Woman adjusting thermostat on green wallpapered wall, close-up

How to keep cold snaps from ballooning your energy bill

Don your favorite sweater and turn the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day, and 55 at night.

  • Friday, January 7, 2022 1:30am
  • Life

By Snohomish County PUD

When it came to weather, this past year was one of extremes. In June, our region experienced the hottest stretch of days in recorded history, with the mercury hitting triple digits for consecutive days. Nearly six months to the day later, we plunged into single digits for a week between Christmas and New Year.

That’s some wild weather for us Pacific Northwesterners!

The most recent event was a frigid week of snow, wind and cold temps. In the final days of 2021, temperatures hovered 20 to 30 degrees below average and remained sub-freezing day and night. For the PUD, those cold temperatures can mean a huge increase in customer energy usage.

On Dec. 27, with furnaces working hard to warm homes around the county, the PUD set a record for peak customer energy demand. That’s on the heels of setting a summer record for customer demand during June’s extreme heat event.

When energy use spikes during these extreme heat events, it can put pressure on the grid and force the PUD to purchase power on the market. Instead of purchasing more power, the PUD could work with customers to reduce energy usage and avoid those peaks in the first place.

The FlexEnergy pilots the PUD launched in 2021 will help the PUD understand how to encourage and incentivize customers to reduce energy usage during those peak times. In the future, following the PUD’s deployment of new advanced meters through its Connect Up project, programs like FlexEnergy could lower demand during peak periods, saving the PUD and its customers money.

For PUD customers, extreme low temperatures can mean higher than usual bills. The PUD’s rates are based on usage, which means when the temperature drops and heating systems begin working overtime, there can be sticker shock for some customers when they open their bill. Use these tips below to lower your energy usage and save money:

Layer up and lower the thermostat: During the day, don a sweatshirt and set your thermostat at 68 degrees. As the temperature drops outside, this will help furnaces work less to keep temperatures comfortable in the home. At night, drop it to 55.

When you’re away, give your furnace a break: If you spend extended time away from home, lower the thermostat to 55 degrees to save as much as 10% on your heating costs. If you have a smart thermostat, set it to lower temperatures automatically when you leave.

Practice zoned heating and lighting: A simple way to reduce energy usage is zone heating, or heating and lighting occupied rooms only. Customers who have existing baseboard or wall heating should turn down thermostats in unused rooms and close the door.

Close drapes at night and open them to the sun: Using the natural warmth of the sun can help heat customers’ home and give furnaces a break. Open shades on south-facing windows during the day to let the sun in and close them at night to keep the warmth

To purchase energy-efficient light bulbs, smart thermostats and more, go to marketplace.snopud.com.

PUD Power Talks

Join us Feb. 3 for our next Power Talks presentation. PUD rates expert Brian Booth will present information on how the PUD determines rates, where rate money goes to keep the grid strong, and upcoming changes. To register for the next Power Talks, go to snopud.com/news.

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