By Todd Long
There are two times of year when your utility bill will be higher than usual: January/February and July/August—the coldest and hottest times of the year. Heating and cooling your home accounts for approximately half of your home’s energy usage, and nothing impacts that usage like the outside air temperature. Simply put, the colder (or hotter) it is outside, the harder your system must work to heat (or cool) your home.
When utility bills go out after these times of year, we inevitably hear from customers who ask, “Why is my utility bill so much higher? I never even touched my thermostat!” What they don’t realize is that they just answered their own question. If the average temperature one month was 50 degrees, but the following month it was 30, and you didn’t touch your thermostat, your heating system had to work harder in the second month to get your home to the setting on your thermostat (and that means you used more energy).
Most experts suggest setting your thermostat to 68 in the fall and winter, but you can’t just set it and forget it. If your home is unoccupied during the day, turn your thermostat down even lower so you aren’t paying to heat an empty house. You can also do this when you go to bed at night—wearing warmer pajamas and adding extra blankets can help offset the cooler temperature. We suggest installing a “smart” thermostat you can program or control from your smart phone.
And while we have heard the argument that your system will have to work harder when you turn it back up, studies show the total savings offset the difference.
So how do you know how much energy your home is using? While this information is included on your monthly statement, there’s a free and easy way to track your electricity consumption down to 15-minute intervals!
Simply sign in to the My Account feature of the Huntsville Utilities website. If you don’t already have online access to your account, you can register for it here, as well. Once you are in the My Account section, click “Contract Overview” in the menu to the left. On the Contract Overview page, click the “Consumption History” tab in the middle of the screen. This will take you to a graph showing your last twelve months of energy consumption. To get more specific information, click on one of the months. From there, you can click on a specific day, and from there, to a specific hour.
Watch this video for more information on how to use this feature:
If you notice an unexplained rise in electricity consumption, it could be indicative of a problem with your heating/cooling system or other electric appliance. If you’re not sure what the problem might be, call our Customer Information Center at 256-535-1200, or contact our Energy Services Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s also worth noting that homes equipped with natural gas heating systems pay less to warm their homes than those with electric heat. If you’re interested in switching to natural gas, call us at 256-535-1200.