Why Do We Use More Energy in the Summer?
The end of summer is often the hottest part of the season, which means West Texans are doing everything they can to keep cool. Weather is the #1 driver of energy use in your home. As the temperature increases, so does your energy use. Based on historical averages, there is a 30-40% increase in customer electricity use from May to June and again from June to July.
“In a normal year, Lubbock may hit 100 degrees in the first week of May, but records show a temperature of 100 as early as April 22,” said KCBD (NBC) Chief Meteorologist John Robison. “As Amarillo, Lubbock and Midland exit the severe weather period –usually by the second week of June – high pressure at the surface and aloft takes control of our weather pattern. That brings a major decrease in storm potential and results in the hot summer weather.”
The effect summer has in West Texas varies when compared to other parts of the state, largely due to the moisture content in the air.
“Since we are a semi-arid region, the nighttime temperatures will cool much more than Dallas, San Antonio and most of the state east of Caprock,” continued Robison. “West Texas tends to have the hottest summer temperatures beginning in May through mid-July. As we move into the month of August, our average temperatures will begin slowly decreasing. Central Texas, on the other hand, will have their hottest temperatures beginning in July through early- to mid-September.”
Degree days are one way to estimate your energy use in the summer.
“Degree days assume that when the average outside temperature is 65 degrees, we don’t need heating or cooling to be comfortable,” explained Robison. “For every degree higher or lower than that, you’re probably running your A/C or heater. In a normal summer in West Texas, the average daily outside temperatures soar well above 65 degrees, resulting in higher energy use.”
That means home and business A/C units are constantly being put to the test, driving electric bills higher than any other time of the year.
Aire Serv, a local heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor, provides several expert tips on ways to make sure your A/C is keeping you cool while running smoothly:
- Keep your system working efficiently by replacing your filters regularly to push the right amount of air throughout the house at the right time.
- Properly ventilate your home to prevent the buildup of indoor air pollutants and help control moisture and temperature.
- Conserve energy without losing comfort by installing a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature when home or away.
- Schedule a professional HVAC maintenance to ensure your A/C will be there for you when you need it most.
The good news is LP&L has been working hard to improve infrastructure, stabilize rates and lower costs for customers. With lower natural gas prices and through contract negotiations, LP&L lowered its power cost recovery factor (PCRF) portion of the electric rate on June 1, 2019. The average residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month will pay 8% less this summer compared with last summer.
Reach out to your local HVAC contractor for more A/C tips. You’ll find other ways to save energy and money throughout your home by checking out our Powerful Pointers program, in partnership with ENERGY STAR.