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  • Home > Customer Service > High Bill Concerns > Cold Weather Bill FAQs

    Cold Weather Bill FAQs


    Why is my bill so high?

    There are many reasons for an increase in your electric usage. For many of us with electric heating, the simple answer is winter.
    Cold weather affects energy use. 

    The colder it is outside, the harder your heating system has to work. If you always keep your thermostat at 67 degrees, it takes more energy to reach that temperature when it’s colder outside. 

    The average temperature in January 2017 was 33 degrees. This is down eight degrees from the January 2016 average temperature. That is also two degrees colder than the average December temperature. December 2016 (35 degree average) was six degrees colder than the December 2015 average (41). The drop in temperatures creates a spike in energy usage.

    Typically this will add about 12-15% to heating costs. That amount could be higher if you have a heat pump that relies on an electric furnace for emergency heat. Homes that aren’t well insulated or that have leaky windows & doors will see a higher increase as well.

    We offer rebate programs for insulating your home and upgrading your windows. Learn more about those programs here

    Learn More About Winter Energy Use

    Learn how cold weather affects your bill.

    Find free and low-cost ways to reduce your energy use and cut your bill in winter months.

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    I have a heat pump – I thought they were energy efficient?

    An electric heat pump is one of the most efficient home heating systems you can choose. However, when temperatures drop below 35 degrees, heat pumps must rely on back-up heat (also known as Auxiliary Heat or Emergency Heat) to properly warm your home. This comes from either a gas or electric furnace.

    A thermostat reading "EM" is using expensive backup heat.

    Watch your thermostat. If you see “Auxiliary Heat” or “Emergency Heat” (shown above as "Em"), that means the expensive heat is running. This is true for both gas and electric furnaces. 

    Learn about our rebate programs for ductless heat pumps and air source heat pumps.

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    What else can contribute to the high bill?

    Portable heaters. Running a 1,500 watt portable heater 8 hours a day for 30 days adds an extra $24.48 to a monthly power bill. Someone who runs a portable heater in the garage, RV, and inside one room of their home is looking at a nearly $75 jump.

    If you have a well, consider getting a thermostat-controlled heater for your well house to keep it from freezing. Be sure to insulate your well house to keep heat from escaping and increasing your bill.

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    How can I keep my bill down?

    • Turning your thermostat down 1 degree can save you about 2% on your heating costs.
    • With zonal heating, heat only the room(s) you are occupying. Close doors to unoccupied rooms and reduce the heat in those rooms.
    • If you spend most of your time in one room, lower your central thermostat and use a portable heater for just that room.
    • Switch your lights to LED bulbs, which are more energy efficient than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.
    • Make sure you have weather stripping around doors and windows.
    • Close blinds at night.

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    Ask us a question about your bill.

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