You may have just received your bill and thought, “This bill can’t be right!” Well, you are not alone.
The recent weather patterns are abnormally cold. In fact, we experienced some of the coldest temperatures in about 30 years based on data from the Little Rock National Weather Service.
Below is a summary of temperature data collected in Berryville compared to one year ago.
The cold temperatures in early January caused Carroll Electric customers to break an all-time high for energy use on January 8. The 455 megawatts of power broke the previous record high of 423 megawatts in July 2006.
To put this power consumption into perspective…it would be as if all 87,000 members of Carroll Electric were each running a total of thirty 42” LCD TV’s simultaneously. That’s more than 2,610,000 televisions!
Unlike when your air conditioner runs in the summer, during winter months as temperatures drop during the night, your heating unit runs more often to keep you warm. Extreme cold causes auxiliary heat strips to operate more frequently. This, of course, increases consumption as well.
Of course other factors can contribute to higher energy costs.
- Possible problems with your heating equipment. If you suspicion your heating unit is not working properly, have it serviced by a licensed HVAC or furnace dealer.
- Is your equipment properly maintained? Has it been serviced annually?
- Check your air filter. If it shows signs of dirt, immediately change it. A dirty filter will cause the heating equipment to work less efficiently.
- Increased use of your electric water heater:
- If it is located in an unconditioned space in the home, the cooler temperatures will make it run more often to keep the temperature at the current setting. In the winter the ground water temperature can be 6-8 degrees colder which means more energy is needed to raise it to your water heater’s thermostat setting.
- Lifestyle – habits around the home cause different people to consume different amounts of energy.
- Do you turn off lights when leaving a room?
- Do you take showers instead of baths? Do you take long or short showers?
- When replacing a burned out light bulb, are you using compact fluorescent light bulbs, especially in the rooms which are used most often?
- Do you turn off or unplug your electronics when not in use? (i.e. computers, the Wii or Xbox, phone chargers, etc.)
- Do you use space heaters in rooms when not occupied? Because this type of supplemental heat quickly consumes energy, we suggest you only use these in occupied rooms when someone can enjoy the extra heat provided.
- Did you add an electric blanket to your bed for extra warmth?
- Use of a heat source to keep water lines from freezing.
- Many customers found it necessary to put a heat lamp or space heater in their crawl space or pump house to keep the water lines open during these frigid temperatures.
- Holiday use:
- Many customers entertained during the holidays which means more food preparation, perhaps more decorating, perhaps more waking hours with activity in the household.
- Decorating with indoor lights and electric holiday decorations.
- Outdoor decorating with yard ornaments and/or lights on the house.
- College kids home on break.
- School kids home during Christmas break.
- Empty houses consume nearly as much energy as occupied houses for several reasons:
- The heat setting may be turned lower yet the heating unit is still working to maintain the house at that setting and nothing else is contributing to keeping the home warm. (i.e. body heat from humans or pets, heat from ovens/dryers/stoves/showers, etc.)
- If the water heater temperature is not adjusted downward or the breaker turned off, it still continues to keep water hot.
- Refrigerators and freezers continue to run during your absence.
- The energy adjustment on your January bill (and likely February) increased. This can mostly be attributed to:
- Arkansas Electric Cooperative (our wholesale power supplier) had one coal-fired generating plant out of service during 21 of the 31 days in December. It wasn’t the same one for all 21 days but in essence that’s what it adds up to. What this means to our consumers is the natural-gas-fired generating plants were more heavily used to produce the power we needed in December. Natural gas costs more than coal. The fuel adjustment billed to Carroll Electric on our wholesale power bill reflects the increase in fuels needed to produce the power. This is what the “Energy Adjustment” is based on.
- Reasons for the outages at the generating plants varied. Some were for routine maintenance which identified other unknown problems that had to be resolved, extending the outage time. Some were to install new equipment that increases efficiencies in the operations of the plant.
- Not enough insulation – for more information on this, please call one of our energy auditors to learn more about the importance of R value and insulating your home.
- Your meter may have malfunctioned.
- Rarely do we find a meter that is not registering properly. However, it is a possibility and Carroll Electric can schedule an in-field test of your meter. In the last three years, Carroll Electric in-field meter tests found only three meters operating outside of the standardized limits set by the Arkansas Public Service Commission…and, only one of these was registering faster than normal. The cost to test your meter is $35.00 and is refundable if the meter test results are outside of the tolerance limit as to accuracy of registration as required by the Arkansas Public Service Commission per Special Rules - Electric Rule 7.05.B.
Copyright 2012, Carroll Electric, 920 Hwy 62 Spur, P.O. Box 4000, Berryville AR 72616, 870-423-2161