Extreme Weather Mythbusters

The Truth About Winter Energy Efficiency & Keeping Electric Bills In Check

By Pam Spettel

After periods of extremely cold or hot weather, 1 of the most common questions Lane Electric receives is, “Why was my bill so high?” Here are some straightforward answers to how extreme weather affects residential energy use and drives higher electric bills, and what you can do to lower your bill.

Myth Number 1: Weather Does Not Affect My Electric Bill.

Fact: The larger the difference between the temperature of the air outside and the temperature of the air inside, the more energy must be used to heat or cool the air. Even if you don’t adjust the setting on your thermostat, changing outside temperatures mean your home’s HVAC system must work harder to maintain a constant temperature indoors.

Myth Number 2: My Bill Should Be The Same As Last Month/Year If I Didn’t Adjust My Thermostat.

Fact: When temperatures dip, running the heat for long periods of time can result in a significantly higher bill. The larger the difference between the temperature of the air outside and the temperature of the air inside, the more energy must be used to heat your home.

Myth Number 3: I Can Lower My Bill Using Space Heaters.

Fact: Most space heaters consume approximately 1,500 watts of electricity or more. A 1,500-watt space heater used for 12 hours a day for a month will add an extra $50 dollars to your bill—for each space heater!

Myth Number 4: Turning Off The Upstairs HVAC Unit Will Save Money.

Fact: If you have 2 HVAC units and the upstairs unit is turned off, then the downstairs unit works even harder to supply heat for the entire home. As you heat the downstairs, that heat will rise upstairs. If there is a major temperature difference between upstairs and downstairs, your HVAC system will work twice as hard.

You can prevent your downstairs unit from overuse by turning on the upstairs unit and setting it a few degrees cooler than the downstairs one. If no one is upstairs, it does not need to be as warm as the main living area. Keep it cooler but not off. It takes more energy to reheat an area than to keep it at a lower temperature.

Myth Number 5: Closing Vents & Doors In Unused Rooms Saves Energy.

Fact: Keeping a vent closed prevents the warm air from going into a room, and this can negatively impact how your home circulates warm air. Closing off vents in unused rooms makes cold areas, and it prevents a consistent temperature in the home. Also, it is best to leave interior doors open when possible as this also aids in air circulation inside the home.

Myth Number 6: I Can Save On My Electric Bill By Heating With My Oven.

Fact: Running an electric oven costs even more than running a small space heater. The longer an oven is on—especially unattended—the greater the chance of an electrical malfunction leading to a fire. Ovens are designed to heat the small, internal area where your food is cooked, not an entire room in your home.