When Temperatures Go Low, Electricity Bills Go High. NOVEC Offers Help.

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Provided by NOVEC

Winter dropped almost a foot of snow on Northern Virginia on Jan. 12-13. Another polar vortex swooping down from the North Pole could bring record-breaking temperatures this week. If weather forecasters are correct, more snow and subzero temperatures could put much of the country in a deep freeze before winter is over. To prepare, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative urges consumers to conserve energy now — before their heating bills arrive.

“When temperatures go low, electricity bills go high,” says Laura Woodcock, a NOVEC energy specialist. “We receive calls throughout the cold season from customers who are shocked when they open their bills and see how much electricity they used in the last 30 days to heat their homes, keep lights on longer during short winter days, and take lengthy hot showers.”

Woodcock anticipates homeowners with heat pumps will notice a hike in their bills: “Heat pumps save money and work efficiently when winter temperatures are moderate. But when outdoor temperatures drop below freezing, more expensive backup electric-resistance heating usually kicks on automatically — depending on how efficient the heat pump is and how well a house is insulated.”

To help budget for their electricity, NOVEC customers may sign up for levelized billing. “This option allows customers to pay their future bills at approximately the same amount each month,” Woodcock explains. To participate, customers may call the Customer Service Center at 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500, or visit novec.com/paymentoptions.

NOVEC’s Winter Energy Cost-saving Tips

  1. Set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower, but leave a heat pump thermostat at a constant setting most of the time to avoid using expensive resistance heating. Make it easy with a programmable thermostat.
  2. Replace air-system filters frequently, according to manufacturer’s instructions. A dirty filter restricts airflow and makes the system work harder.
  3. Have a heating-and-cooling contractor inspect the heating system to make sure it’s working efficiently.
  4. Check to see if storm and regular windows are closed and locked.
  5. Close curtains and other window treatments at night to keep heated air from escaping through glass.
  6. If windows leak air, adhere plastic — available in kits at hardware and home stores — to interior window frames.
  7. Attach insulating door sweeps to block cold air from seeping under door thresholds. Use old blankets or towels as a temporary solution.
  8. Install an attic-entrance insulating cover.
  9. Insert foam rubber pads under wall outlet and switch covers, and use child-protection outlet covers to stop drafts.
  10. Install glass doors over an open fireplace. Close the damper and glass doors when the fireplace is not in use to prevent as much as 14 percent of heated air from going up the chimney flue.
  11. Keep garage doors closed as often as possible to keep cold air from penetrating indoors.
  12. Turn an electric water heater down to 120 degrees instead of keeping it at 140 degrees, set by most manufacturers. Adjust a gas water heater between “warm” and “hot.”

NOVEC offers more energy cost-saving tips at novec.com under Ways to Save.

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