11:49 AM

Freezing January temperatures impacting member bills

(JEFFERSON, GA. Feb. 8, 2018) – A prolonged period of exceptionally cold weather for Northeast Georgia has caused Jackson EMC members to consume the most energy in winter since 2011.

When temperatures remain below freezing, energy use typically increases as heating systems work harder and longer to keep homes and businesses warm. Temperatures were below freezing for a combined 33 days in December and January -- more than twice as many days as the previous year.

Jackson EMC members consumed more than 112 million more kWh in January than in December. The January energy usage for the cooperative was the highest it has been in winter since 2011.

On average, residential electric use by Jackson EMC members increased by 500 kWh from December to January, resulting in about a $40 bill increase. Last year, the consumption increase from December to January was half of what we’ve seen this year.

Historically, Northeast Georgia sees freezing temperatures in February and March, as well. To save money, Jackson EMC recommends members follow these energy efficient tips:

Energy Efficient Heating Habits

Nearly half of the electricity used at home goes to condition the air inside. To impact cost, the HVAC unit needs to run less.

  • Set your thermostat to 68 degrees.
  • Homes with heat pumps: In the winter, nighttime setbacks and frequent thermostat changes will increase energy costs and are not recommended. Programmable and smart thermostats designed for heat pumps permit setbacks without increasing operating costs.
  • Only set the thermostat to “emergency heat” in the event the heat pump is not working. Because emergency heat costs nearly twice as much to operate as the heat pump during normal operation, it should not be used except in the case of system failure while awaiting repairs.
  • Check and/or replace air filters every 1–2 months. Dirty or clogged air filters restrict airflow and cause your compressor to work harder, increasing costs.
  • Use the fireplace sparingly. It draws your home’s heated air up the chimney.
  • Ensure proper airflow to indoor supply and return vents, and around your outdoor unit. Do not block indoor supply and return vents with furniture or other objects. Keep the outdoor unit free of leaves, grass, shrubs, snow, or anything else that can block airflow.

Cut energy use everywhere else

  • Activate “sleep” features on computers and office equipment that power down when the equipment is not in use for more than an hour.
  • Do full loads when you use clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers.
  • Use dimmers, timers and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs, which burn longer and use less energy.
  • Turn off or unplug any unused appliances or lights.

Plan long-term

  • Insulate floors, walls and attics to keep homes cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
  • Get your air conditioner tuned-up. Consider a maintenance contract that provides a checkup twice a year, prior to peak cooling and heating seasons.
  • If your HVAC unit is 10 years old or more, consider replacing it. New models are more efficient and may lower your electric bill. Jackson EMC offers rebates and low-interest loans for qualifying members. More details about these programs are available at www.jacksonemc.com/rebates.

For more money-saving tips, check out the list at http://www.jacksonemc.com/waystosave.

To minimize the impact weather has on electric bills, many electric utilities offer billing options that level out the costs from summer and winter energy usage over a 12-month period. Jackson EMC’s budget billing plan for members works by averaging the current month and the last 11 months of electric use, which becomes the new monthly payment amount. Members interested in budget billing should call their local office at 1-800-462-3691 or learn more at www.jacksonemc.com/budgetbilling.

Jackson Electric Membership Corporation, the largest electric cooperative in Georgia and one of the largest in the nation, is headquartered 50 miles northeast of Atlanta in Jefferson, Ga. The cooperative serves more than 225,000 meters on 14,000 miles of energized wire. For more information, visit jacksonemc.com.