March Sticker Shock
If you like sunny weather, March can be one of South Central Texas’s finest months. It’s no wonder some Cooperative members might expect their GVEC electric bills for March to be lower compared to other months. After all, milder temperatures mean your AC/heating system—the single biggest driver of every home electric bill—runs far less. Plus, who wants to spend free time indoors when it’s beautiful and inviting outside? That means you and your family will spend less time inside playing video games, browsing the internet, taking hot showers, watching TV, etc. All of these have potential to impact electricity usage. Isn’t it reasonable then, to expect GVEC electric bills for March to reflect the transition to a less chilly season?
Not so fast.
The Billing Cycle
GVEC electric bills are based on a 30- or 31-day billing period. On the bill itself, that billing period is labeled as your “Service Dates.” Look closely at your bill. The last day you were billed (or your last Service Date) will be between seven and 14 days before the Billing Date (the day the bill was issued). In regards to weather, a lot can happen in two weeks, but you need to think back even further! For a 30-day billing period, the first Service Date could be up to six weeks before the Billing Date! Relying on what the weather’s offering the day you receive a bill or in the days leading up to a bill isn’t a reliable gauge of usage—not even close.
GVEC Electric Bills: Weather Matters
As we’ve stated many times here on the blog (and in The GVEC Review), weather is one of the biggest drivers of electricity usage. In short, weather matters! To get a better understanding of your GVEC electric bills, you’ll need to review the outside temperature for the days of the cycle in question, along with your usage levels. Fortunately, SmartHub®, GVEC’s online customer portal, can provide this information (for more on SmartHub, visit our blog at gvec.org). Temperatures for the beginning of your billing cycle may have been significantly cooler, meaning you and your family probably stayed in more, watched more TV, played more video games, and used computers and handheld devices more often. You may have also cooked at home more often, and/or taken long, hot showers, all of which adds extra usage.
Heating & Cooling: The Biggest Expense on GVEC Electric Bills
The biggest expense on your bill, though, is heating costs. On average, heating and cooling costs make up roughly 50 percent of GVEC electric bills. To reduce usage, start here: For every 1 degree you set your thermostat down in winter or up in summer, you save up to 4 PERCENT in heating and cooling costs! We recommend setting your thermostat to 78 degrees in warmer and hot months and 68 degrees while cooler weather is here.
The colder (or hotter) it is outside, the harder your system must work to keep the inside temperature constant. For example, let’s say the low temperature hovered between 34 to 36 degrees during several days of your billing cycle. Even if your thermostat was set to 68 degrees, that’s over a 30-degree difference—a big number for any AC/heating system to overcome. Under those conditions, your heater would be working hard to keep up; lowering the thermostat would not only impact your bill, but could also reduce system wear-and-tear.
For More Information on Conserving Energy, Call Us or Visit gvec.org
If your March bill is higher than you hoped, don’t let it get you down. Remember: Your next bill will include much of the mild weather we enjoy this month. Keep reading our blog here at gvec.org, too, for regular tips on how to lower electricity usage. We also welcome you to call us 800.223.4832 to speak with one of our energy solutions specialists about conserving energy and to schedule a free home energy audit, an exclusive service for GVEC members.