Cold temps equal higher energy usage

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives


Last October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted winter heating costs to be higher this winter than the previous two winters. This increase is due to colder-than-normal temperatures and to some extent, rising fuel prices. In Oklahoma, at least six days in January remained below freezing, with single-digit temperatures as the low on most of these days. Additionally, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet, some days in January only reached the 30s or 40s with some parts of the state experiencing below-freezing temperatures for over half of the month. When temperatures are this low, heating systems work harder and, as a consequence, use more energy. Frigid temperatures can cause heating systems to work overtime, and since heating and cooling can make up nearly half of your electric bill, you may experience sticker shock when you open that bill.   

It is important to understand that higher energy usage leads to higher electric bills. We all enjoy being comfortable in our homes, but we also have to remind ourselves that there is a value to comfort. For example, if you set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter, when it is 15 degrees outside, your system has to work hard to make up that 53-degree difference. Often times we also resort to other heating methods to keep our home warm during cold winter days; these come in the form of heat lamps, space heaters, tank heaters, resistance backup heat and other high usage devices. While these options provide relief during short-lived cold spells, they also directly impact your overall energy usage. 

What can you do to help curb your electric bill during colder months? The U.S. Department of Energy offers several guidelines including: reduce waste heat by installing a programmable thermostat, lower your water heater temperature (DOE recommends the warm setting of 120 degrees during fall and winter months), unplug electronics like kitchen appliances and TVs when you’re away, and more. Being informed and proactive about your energy usage will only help you in the long run. As your trusted energy source, your local electric cooperative is ready to help you with any questions you may have about your electric consumption. 


Fuel diversity is key for co-ops

Scott Copeland
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives


You do it every day—push a button to brew your morning coffee, heat your leftovers, take a warm shower, wash the dishes, dry your clothes, or watch your favorite TV show, and the list goes on. Every day, we enjoy the conveniences afforded to us by electricity. But have you ever thought about where your power comes from? When you flip that light switch on, an electric generating plant, which is likely not located in your neighborhood—and at times not even in your state—works hard to meet your household’s electric power needs.  

Your electric cooperative’s mission is to ensure you have affordable, reliable and safe electricity. This mission is accomplished with an environmentally responsible approach. Both nationwide and here at home, electric cooperatives rely on a broad portfolio of fuels, including clean and renewable resources, to deliver your power. 

Recently, the American Wind Energy Association announced that Oklahoma moved into the nation’s No. 2 spot for wind power capacity, just behind Texas. By the end of 2017, Oklahoma had 7,495 megawatts of installed power capacity. The generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives that provide wholesale power to your local co-op integrate wind generating resources into the power that is sold to your distribution co-op. In fact, these G&T co-ops have interconnections with 15 wind farms. 

Electric co-ops support energy policies in ways that keep costs affordable, promote system reliability and avoid undue burdens that are eventually passed on to member-owners. The flexibility to use all energy resources, which include coal, natural gas, wind, hydro and solar sources are vital to meet our members’ future demand. Because co-ops typically have low consumer densities per mile of line—an average of 5.45 active meters—it is vital that co-ops partake in a diverse fuel mix which helps them to keep affordability at the forefront. Next time you flip the switch on, remember your electric co-op supports an “all of the above” fuel supply because they have their members’ best interest at heart.