Brace yourselves: Colder temperatures contribute to higher energy bills

For five days in November, San Juan County experienced a cold snap — with an average daily temperature of only 25 degrees — and OPALCO members are going to notice the difference on their power bills that go out at the end of the month.

“When temperatures drop below 50 degrees, we see electrical usage go up as members use more energy to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature,” OPALCO System Engineer Joel Mietzner said in a press release.

Power purchases for the five-day period added up to 6,826,980 kilowatt hours, as compared to 3,274,460 kWh for the same five-day period in 2009 when the average temperature was 45 degrees. The rest of November was comparable to last year in terms of temperature and power purchases.

“Load growth is steady at less than 1 percent,” Mietzner said. “It’s the temperature that contributed to higher bills this billing cycle.”

A good first step in protecting your household from higher energy bills is to have a Home Snapshot Energy Assessment through OPALCO. A certified contractor will inspect your home from top to bottom and leave you with a detailed report on areas where you could see savings—in kWh and dollars—with energy efficiency improvements. Once you discover how your home could benefit from some energy efficiency upgrades, OPALCO can also help with the cost of making improvements.

“Weatherization rebates are available for insulation, window replacement and duct sealing,” Energy Services Assistant Manager Anne Bertino said. “And, federal rebates are continuing into 2011. Now is a good time to take advantage of all of the incentives and start seeing the savings on your energy bill.”

To learn more about OPALCO’s energy efficiency rebates and Home Snapshot Energy Assessments, visit or call 376-3586 to schedule an energy assessment.

OPALCO is a member-owned cooperative electrical utility serving more than 11,000 members on 20 islands in San Juan County. OPALCO provides electricity that is 95 percent greenhouse-gas free and is predominately generated by hydro-electric plants.

OPALCO was founded in 1937 to bring electricity to rural islanders.

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