Some people question whether their electric meter is registering correctly. Most blame air-conditioning as the culprit. While cooling usually consumes the largest portion of home energy bills during hot months, there is another reason why you must reach deeper into your pocket to pay summer electric bills.
To support high electricity usage on very hot days, your electric utility often requires supplemental electricity from additional generating facilities. For most utilities in the U.S.,
these peak periods occur weekdays, between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sometimes “peaker” plants, which run on natural gas and usually do not operate 97 to 99 percent of the year, can be switched on quickly to satisfy periods of peak power demand. Other times, less-efficient fuel oil and coal plants are added to the generation mix to meet increased electrical needs.
Estimates show that 10 to 20 percent of the overall annual cost of providing electricity comes from supplying electrical demand during the 100 most-expensive hours of the year. In Nebraska these “peaks” usually occur during the summer; therefore, most Nebraska utilities bill their customers using a summer rate. Some utilities begin their summer rate period as early as May 15 and run as late as October 15. In general, summer rates are often designed 25 to 35 percent higher than winter rates to cover additional peaking power costs.
Is there anything you can do to reduce the cost of your summer electrical use? Absolutely! Consider this: the wholesale purchase price your utility must pay for the electricity
you use is significantly impacted by what time of day you are using it. If you use it most during the peak period, your utility will pay more for additional energy resources needed. But if you can reduce or shift your usage to another time of day, your utility will pay less. That reduces the need for future rate increases to you.
Here are easy ways for you to help your electric utility and reduce your “peak” energy use:
We want to help you make the most of your energy dollar this summer while keeping you cool. For more ideas on how you can make your home or business EnergyWise℠, along with possible energy efficiency financial incentives for the cooling system tune-up and heat pump water heater mentioned above, view our
When this season rolls around, I always remember to check and change the furnace filter in my heating an cooling (HVAC) system.