On the coldest of days, you may see notices on City social media accounts about “Peak Usage” warnings encouraging residents to reduce electric consumption during certain hours of the day.
The Westerville Electric Division wants customers to understand the impact of these days of very high electric usage.
What is Peak Usage?
With frigid temperatures dipping well below zero this winter, the Westerville Electric Division has issued multiple “Peak Usage” warnings this season. These warnings are issued by American Electric Power or American Municipal Power during periods of extreme cold or heat. In short, the warnings indicate to the City that we are at risk for hitting the highest peak in a 12-month period for electric consumption.
The Westerville Electric Division wants customers to understand the impact these days of very high electric consumption can have on our present and future:
IMPACT TO MONTHLY UTILITY BILLS
Severe temperature shifts mean your heating and cooling systems are working overtime to keep our homes and thermostats happy. While your HVAC is putting in the extra work to keep you comfortable, it doesn’t always do the trick. This can lead some to employ the use of electric space heaters and the like. Space heaters burden your home’s energy output even more and can run up your monthly bill big time. While it may seem worth it in the moment, footing the extra money on your electric utility bill can be stressful.
IMPACT TO THE ENVIRONMENT
Your checkbook isn’t the only thing that can take a hit when your electricity is working overtime- it could impact the environment as well. One of the unintended consequences of home electricity use is the emission of pollutants into the environment. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), emissions from the most common sources of electricity generation include carbon dioxide (CO2), among others.
Want to reduce the impact the of your energy use on the environment? Start by calculating your household’s carbon footprint.
IMPACT TO THE LONG GAME
Westerville does not rely on chance to secure reasonable electric rates for customers. The Electric Division purchases power from the market, but the cost of transmission and other bill components are largely out Westerville’s control. Those prices are based on, among other things, the highest peak consumption days in any given year. Therefore, the overall cost of power in the future will be partially based on the highest days of power consumption leading up to that year.
That is to say, a day of extraordinarily high power consumption citywide in 2018 could ultimately lead to more expensive electric payments in the future for all consumers. It is the Westerville way to look ahead and secure a safe, affordable future for residents. Together, we can make it happen.
There’s no need to freeze this winter. Check out these smart, simple energy-saving tips for winter from the Westerville Electric Division.
Winter Energy Efficiency
With temperatures dipping to freezing and below, the Westerville Electric Division encourages residents to keep energy efficiency in mind while keeping homes warm.
TURN BACK THE THERMOSTAT
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning down the thermostat 10-15 degrees for eight hours a day, like while you sleep, can help save you around 10% per year on heating and cooling bills.
LET IN THE SUNSHINE
Put the sun to work in your home by opening curtains during sunny days to take advantage of the natural heat source. Be sure to close them again when the sun sets.
LIMIT ELECTRIC APPLIANCE USE
Electric-powered heating devices, such as space heaters, are major consumers of energy (not to mention can pose fire risks when left unattended). Consult the manufacturer’s suggestions for use and never leave appliances unattended while running. Learn more about safe portable heater use from the U.S. Department of Energy.
CHECK FOR DRAFTS, LEAKS
From windows to electrical outlets, there are plenty of places in your home from where cold air could leak. Professional services are available to help air seal your house and there are steps you yourself can take to block the chill. Learn more about common air leaks.
EMBRACE THE SWEATER WEATHER
While it is certainly your right to enjoy the creature comforts of modern heating technology, the most environmentally conscious solution is one you’ve probably heard echoed from parental figures your entire life- grab a sweater. When frigid temperatures have their grasp on the region, it can be tempting to shed a few layers of clothing and crank up your home heating system to a subtropical temperature. However, this will end up costing you and the City’s power grid. Instead, experts recommend you keep your home at a comfortable 68 degrees and bundle up in warm, cozy clothing and blankets.
Information for this story was provided by The City of Westerville.