The dog days of summer are here. Nothing says that louder than the hum of air conditioners working nonstop. However, the return of triple-digit temperatures and can also mean higher electricity consumption.
Summer is traditionally OPPD’s peak demand season, with warm and often humid conditions a big contributor. 2017, according to the National Weather Service, has seen some of the hottest weather conditions in recent memory. Unfortunately, all of this can result in higher electric bills for OPPD customers.
A number of customers have already noted that their July bills were higher than their bills just one month ago, and notably higher than one year ago. Some initially feared that something must be wrong with their electric meters. Others wondered whether the higher bills may be tied to an increase in the customer service charge that went into effect on June 1.
As Edward Easterlin, vice president of Financial Services and OPPD’s chief financial officer, explained to the district’s board of directors at its July meeting, the real culprit is higher energy usage due to outdoor temperatures and weather conditions.
Easterlin explained that in June (the month reflected in July bills) the number of degree days was 70 percent higher than normal. In other words, June was much hotter than average and considerably higher than last year. To cope, customers used more electricity. “Degree days” is a measurement used to measure the demand for energy needed to cool (or heat) a home or building.
With hotter than usual temperatures expected for the remainder of this summer, there are some things that customers can do to lower their energy usage and hopefully keep their bills manageable:
- Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. 78 degrees is often cited as an optimal temperature. When setting your thermostat, a one-degree increase can conservatively save 3 to 5 percent on energy.
- Keep window shades and blinds closed to block direct sunlight.
- Schedule a check-up of your cooling equipment with a licensed contractor, if you have not done so this year.
- Clean or change your system’s air filter monthly to save energy and help prevent system failure.
- Use ceiling fans to enable you to raise your thermostat about 4 degrees, with no reduction in comfort.
- Turn off fans when you leave the room. Fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind-chill effect.
- Delay such tasks as dishwashing or laundry until after 8 p.m., and restrict the use of heat-producing appliances such as ovens until later in the day.
- Unplug appliances and shut off lights that are not in use.
- Shower early in the morning or later in the evening.
OPPD offers these and many more seasonal energy-efficiency tips online.