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Cold weather and your electric bill
If you're heating with electricity, be prepared!

Posted by Shane McLaughlin on 12/20/2013 at 6:16 PM

It's been a cold December across the U.S., including here in Houston.  For many consumers, the effects will show up in their natural gas bills.  CenterPoint Energy is already warning local gas customers to be prepared for a high December bill.

But for those Houstonians who heat their homes with electricity, the same warning needs to be given about your electric bill.  

In the electric business, we use load profiles to describe customers.  While we don't know what furnace you have, we have a pretty good idea based on your usage, and that's how load profiles are assigned.

The following chart shows the daily total electric usage for residential customers that have shared their usage data with TrueCost.  The blue line is "low winter ratio" profiles (probably not using electric heat) and green is "high winter ratio" profiles (probably using electric heat).

gas and electric heating profiles for Nov/Dec 2013

When the two lines move in parallel, that is most likely air conditioner use.  When the green line shoots up and the blue line doesn't, that's electric heating. And it's all weather-driven.  

This is a chart from NOAA.  Green is the "normal" and the records are also shown.  On dates where we dip into the blue, you'll see more electric heat load.  And when we're in the pink area, you'll see all customers' usage increase.
average highs and lows for December vs. December 2013 in Houston

Here's the November 2013 chart. You can see the temperatures drop during Thanksgiving week. That's where the usage spikes for electric heat load on the TrueCost chart, too.

 
Houston, TX November 2013 actual vs. historical temperatures
 

Interested in your data?  Create your TrueCost profile, or if you have one already, log in to your account.  From the My Account page, you can view your smart meter data, or sign up for a daily email to keep up with your usage.

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