Understand Your Usage
Cold Weather Impacts on Energy Use
The Polar Vortex brought extreme cold temperatures to the Northeast
During the week of January 28, frigid air from the polar vortex in the Midwest traveled into the Northeast. Below normal temperatures in Maine felt like -30 degrees.
Electric usage varies from day to day and month to month, depending upon a variety of factors including your daily habits, the weather, and the time of year. An increase in your electric usage could be caused by a variety of factors:
Bills may be higher during the winter months, due to both the increased energy requirements for home heating and fewer daylight hours, resulting in increased use of lighting.
Changes in the Weather
Your heating system is the largest energy user in your home. As the weather gets colder the heating system operates longer, increasing your bill. If you use an energy-efficient heat pump, your electric bill will be higher. Be sure to review operating instructions for maximum efficiency.
A sudden spike in energy usage may indicate a repair problem with an appliance, heating system, or water heater. A spike can also be caused by a period of very cold weather in the winter. Don't forget that since billing cycles are about a month long, sometimes it can be a few weeks before the effect of really cold weather will be seen on your bill.
An Empty House
If your home is empty for extended periods of time during the winter, you won't necessarily use less electricity. Your daily activities when you are at home generate a fair amount of heat. When you are gone the lack of activity means your heating system must work harder to keep the house warm.
A Full House
If the number of people living in your home increases, your energy use can go up. More people means more showers, cooking and laundry, which can significantly increase your energy use.
We offer FREE tools, powered by your smart meter, to help you better understand your electricity use.
Track your energy usage online, hour-by-hour, day-by-day. With Energy Manager, you can create a checklist of ways to save and get helpful tips for managing your electricity use. Other innovative features include:
- View weather data along with usage information
- Match usage to your billing statement
- See a breakdown of your usage by category
Receive alerts and updates about your electricity usage and estimated cost - all made possible by your smart meter! You can choose to receive any of the following alerts:
- Usage Update: Receive weekly updates with your usage, estimated cost, and daily averages for the current billing period.
- Usage Amount Exceeded: Set a monthly electricity usage or dollar amount, and we'll notify you if/when you exceed that amount.
- Usage Change: We'll notify you of big changes to your daily usage. Specifically, if your daily usage is 50% higher or 75% lower than your past 30-day average usage for three days in a row.
Enroll in Usage Alerts
Helping you understand
Energy Manager and Usage Alerts may help connect your activities to your usage. Consider the following when looking at your data:
- Additional people in the home (children out of school, guests)
- Heat pump hot water heater / heat pump
- Outdoor hot tub
- New appliance / seasonal appliance
- Pumping wet basement
- Electric portable space heaters
- Heat tapes on pipes, roofs and walkways
- Auto engine block heaters - diesel trucks
- Home construction
- Heaters in barns for animals
Stay warm & save on energy costs during extreme cold
- Schedule an energy audit of your home to find out where you can gain energy savings
- Consider lowering your thermostat to a comfortable temperature when you are at home and awake
- Consider lowering your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees when you're asleep
- If using a heat pump, keep it at a moderate temperature setting — review operating instructions
- Check windows and doors for air leaks. Add weatherstripping or caulk to keep cold air out
- Open curtains during the day on windows that face south and take advantage of the sunlight. Close them at night.
- When not in use, keep the damper closed in your fireplace to reduce heat loss.
- Replace filters in your furnace once a month and schedule regular service for your furnace each year
- Turn down the temperature on your water to 120 degrees
Sources: Based on information from Accuweather.com and Energy.gov
"We have a heat pump to supplement our other heating sources. During the very cold weather this winter, we shut off the heat pump as it is not efficient with the below zero temperatures. Last weekend (Sunday), my husband turned it back on in our family room and he was supposed to shut it off later that night. Well, that didn't happen! On Wednesday, I received a Usage Alert. "We've detected a change in usage for your account. Your usage from 4/16 to 4/18 has been 38 kwhs, 61 kwhs, and 29 kwhs. This is much higher than your recent usage per day." The first thing that crossed my mind was did my husband forget to shut off the heat pump... Oh yes he forgot!! With a quick phone call to confirm my suspicion, he immediately shut off the heat pump and we instantly got our usage back under control within normal range. I appreciate having Usage Alerts and Energy Manager as tools to help us monitor our use and to be alerted when there are fluctuations so we can take action." Ann B., Oakland