Cold Temperatures Kicking Auxiliary Heat on For Some, Doubling Usage
Updated: Thursday, February 27 2014, 10:52 AM EST
The average temperature in January 2014 was 27 degrees, compared to 35 degrees in January 2013. Due to the bitter cold, the amount of electricity used by an average house increased significantly.
The cold temperatures for some kicked in auxiliary heating.
For customers who have electric heat pumps, when the temperature drops below freezing the heat pump will kick in to auxiliary heating. That can almost double their usage - which has a direct impact on their bill.
"If they do have an electric heat pump check with your manufacturer to see what the most efficient setting is for that heat pump to make sure they are not using that auxiliary heat unless it is absolutely necessary," BGE spokesperson Rachel Lighty advised.
Auxiliary heat supplements the heat pump on very cold days and tries to quickly raise indoor temperatures. Lowering the winter thermostat temperature to 68 degrees or lower will help minimize the use of auxiliary heat. BGE advises customers who heat with natural gas to set the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night
For every degree below 73 during the colder months, customers may save 2%-4% on heating costs.
"During the colder months, heating systems typically account for more than 40% of customers' energy bills because extreme weather generally triggers significant increases in energy use at home," said Carol Dodson, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. "Even when the thermostat is kept at the same temperature, heating units must work harder to maintain the set temperature. Without taking steps to save energy during these times, energy bills will reflect additional usage and will likely be higher than in months when temperatures are more moderate."
Customers who heat with older model electric heat pumps are especially vulnerable to sharp increases in usage when auxiliary heating is activated during cold weather.