February 1, 2018 | Leif Munkel

Answer: Power bills following periods of prolonged cold weather or extreme heat can be higher even when you have not changed the thermostat. Heating and cooling costs make up the largest percentage of a home’s energy use. When the temperature changes drastically or stays extremely hot or cold, your heating/cooling unit must run longer to keep your home at the programmed, comfortable setting.

Even the most efficient heating system set to the recommended 68 degrees sees much more use in extreme cold weather. If you have extreme cold days, or prolonged periods of very low temperatures, your heating system works harder and for longer periods to make up difference.

  • Imagine today’s temperature is a cool 50 degrees, and your unit is set to 68 degrees. The unit will run until it makes up the 18 degree difference in temperature and reaches the programmed setting.
  • Now imagine, a morning with a 15-degree temperature. You didn’t change your thermostat. It’s still at 68 degrees, but now your unit must make up 53 degrees in temperature.

This causes your home to use more energy during this period and results in a higher power bill next month.

Also, space heaters can increase your energy consumption because they require additional electricity to run, and traditional wood-burning fireplaces can allow heated air to escape through the chimney.

The same can happen in the summer due to extreme and prolonged heat, or other factors including pool pumps and other equipment that use more energy.

Factors Other Than Weather Can Also Impact a Power Bill

Our representatives are always ready to assist you with any question you have about your Southern Pine Electric billing statement. Here are some things you may consider researching before calling. It could provide answers to questions or provide valuable information when you call.

Know Your Billing and Energy Use History

Study how much power you’ve used in the last 12 months. Sign up for a MyPower account, which allows you the ability to monitor usage, plus view and pay your bill.

Check the Days of Use

Check the number of days that are billed for your electric use that month. This varies from bill to bill due to the number of days in a month and the days in a billing cycle.

Remember, Appliances Run Even When You’re Gone

If you leave your home for the day, or an extended period of time, any appliances you leave plugged in will continue to use electricity. Water heaters, the second largest energy user in your home, join refrigerators, freezers, cable boxes, heating and cooling systems, well pumps and more continue to run and use energy while you are away. Check your thermostat setting before you leave; your heating and cooling system will work to stay at that temperature whether you are at home or away.

Know That No Two Households Are Alike

You do not use energy the same as your neighbor, and houses are not built exactly alike, so comparing your electric bill to your neighbor’s is like comparing apples to oranges. It is best to compare your current energy use to past energy use.

Also, consider other factors:

  • Did you have extra guests stay over the past month?
  • Add a swimming pool or other major appliances or electronics?
  • Welcome a college student back home?
  • Adopt new hobbies that include the use of power tools, ovens or other appliances?

All of these factors and more could increase your home’s energy use and result in higher power bills.

Consider Appliance Use, Placement, and Age

Lighting, refrigeration, cooking and appliances account for a large percentage of your home’s total energy use.

  • Location of refrigerators and freezers can have an impact. Never place a refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or in an unconditioned space such as a garage. The unit will work much harder and use more energy to overcome the excessive outdoor heat during warmer months.
  • Ensure refrigerators and freezers have adequate ventilation to maintain peak efficiency.
  • If an appliance is more than 15 years old, the efficiency of that appliance may be decreasing significantly. This means it is requiring more energy to do the job.
  • It is important to maintain appliances to ensure they are working at peak efficiency and energy savings.