Local News

January 23, 2014

Extreme winter weather will push energy bills higher

The extreme winter weather conditions being experienced in the Tennessee Valley in January have resulted in record energy usage that will ultimately impact end-use power consumers through higher — perhaps significantly higher — power bills in February and March.  

Earlier this month, an arctic weather system — recognized as a polar vortex by the National Weather Service — passed through the region, causing record-setting cold temperatures that resulted in an average of 4.2 degrees across the valley on Tuesday, Jan. 7. On that day, energy usage on TVA’s system set an all-time record during a 24-hour period with 703 million kilowatt-hours. North Georgia EMC set a new peak demand at 7:22 that morning of 754 megawatts (MW), surpassing the previous system peak of 714 MW.

We are pleased to report that despite these extreme weather conditions, North Georgia EMC and TVA employees working together met this record demand with no major power outages or issues to the electric system.

“Our electric system was put to the test with record low temperatures, and we were very pleased with the system’s performance,” said Paul Ruud, vice president of engineering and operations at NGEMC.

With colder temperatures expected to continue in the weeks ahead, there are a number of steps power consumers can take to keep energy usage and costs down:

• Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.

• Lower the thermostat setting when leaving home for an extended period of time.

• When adjusting your thermostat upward, please note that heat pumps should only be raised gradually (in 2-degree increments) to prevent utilizing backup strip heat, which consumes more electricity.

• Check air filters. Dirty air filters increase your energy usage and can also damage your heating. Be sure to use filters approved for your specific system.

• Caulk around windows and replace old weather stripping around doors to keep the cold air out.

• Reduce cold-air drafts around windows — typically seen in older homes — by using heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets, or tape clear plastic film inside your windows. Ensure the plastic is sealed tightly to reduce cold-air drafts.

• Close your fireplace damper when not in use.

• Schedule service for your heating system, and ask what maintenance is required to keep it running optimally. Keep up with maintenance milestones.

• Open curtains on your south-facing windows on sunny days to naturally heat your home with sunlight. Close the curtains at night to reduce any chill or drafts.

You can find additional energy-saving suggestions by visiting TVA’s Energy Right Solutions website at www.energyright.com.


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