Personal tools

  • My Bill
  • Customer Service
  • Ways to Save
  • Clean Energy
  • Stay Safe
  • My PUD
  • Home > Customer Service > High Bill Concerns > How does cold weather affect your bill?

    How does cold weather affect your bill?

    It takes more energy to heat your home when the temperature drops.   

    The more difference there is between the temperature outside and the thermostat setting inside, the harder your heating system will work and the more energy it will use, even if you don’t turn the thermostat higher. This is especially true for homes that don’t have enough insulation, homes with single-paned or aluminum-framed windows, and homes with a lot of air leaks around windows, doors, and plumbing & electrical boxes. 

    Ways to minimize your energy use during a cold snap: 

    1. Thermostat SavingsTurn your thermostat down a few degrees. Each degree you lower it can save up to 2% on your heating bill. Set it even lower when you are away or asleep but be sure to keep your house at least 55 degrees at all times to prevent pipes from freezing and to avoid moisture problems.
    2. Use portable space heaters wisely. If you spend most of your time in one or two rooms, using space heaters to keep those rooms warmer, and turning your furnace down to let the rest of the house stay cooler, can help save energy. This works best if you can close off the rooms you are using, and if you only use one or two space heaters. A typical space heater uses 1,500 watts of electricity and an electric furnace uses 10 times that much. Read more about using space heaters efficiently.
    3. Get rid of drafts. If you feel cold air coming in, warm air is escaping. Keep windows and doors closed, and use caulk or weather stripping to seal leaks around windows, doors, and plumbing penetrations.
    4. Cover your windows. Tight fitting, insulated window coverings can help minimize heat loss through the windows. Keep curtains and blinds closed unless the sun is shining directly on the glass.
    5. Properly maintained equipment will provide greater comfort and lower energy costs.Check your furnace filters to see if they need to be cleaned or replaced. Dirty or clogged filters make your furnace work harder, increasing energy usage.
    6. Check your insulation levels. If your home is poorly insulated, adding insulation will lower your energy bills.  If you heat with electricity, ask us about rebates for insulation upgrades.
    7. Upgrade your heating system. If you heat your home with electric resistant heat (electric furnace, baseboards, plug in heaters, etc.), consider upgrading to a much more efficient heat pump or ductless heat pump.  
      Learn about air-source heat pumps.  
      Learn about ductless heat pumps. 

    See More Tips for Saving Energy in Winter 

    Discover free and low-cost ways to reduce your energy use and cut your bill during winter months.

    Learn answers to some common questions about winter electric bills.

    Two ways to compare temperatures: Average temperature & degree days

    Average temperature:

    If your energy use is higher than you expect, it might be weather-related. Comparing the average temperature during the month to the same month last year is one quick way to tell if the increase is weather-related.

    You can calculate the average temperature for your specific billing period on Weather Underground

    Month Average
    Temperature
    Average Temp for
    Same month last year 
    10-Year Average
    for the Month
    Feb 2017 40 47 42
    Jan 2017 33 41 39
    Dec 2016 35 41 38
    Nov 2016 50 43 44
    Oct 2016 54 57 53
    Sep 2016 61 61 62
    Aug 2016 70 70 68
    July 2016 67 71 68
    June 2016 63 68 61
    May 2016 59 59 56
    Apr 2016 55 50 50
    Mar 2016 48 50 46
    Feb 2016 47 48 42
    Jan 2016 41 42 39
    Dec 2015 41 43 38
    Nov 2015 43 44 44
    Oct 2015 57 58 53
    Sep 2015 61 63 62
    Aug 2015 70 71 68
    July 2015 71 70 68
    June 2015 68 61 61
    May 2015 59 59 56
    April 2015 50 51 49
    Mar 2015 50 47 46
    Feb 2015 48 38 42
    Jan 2015 42 40 39

    For example, the average temperature during November 2016 was 50 degrees, which is 7 degrees warmer than the average of 43 degrees in November 2015. This is likely to have resulted in a lower energy usage for you in November 2016 than in November 2015.

    Degree days:

    For a more precise look at how temperature affects your bill, you should use degree days. 

    Winter weather can increase heating bills, especially in poorly weatherized homes.

    A Degree Day (DD) is the difference between the average temperature for a day and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the difference is positive (if it’s warmer than 65), it’s called a Cooling Degree Day. If the difference is negative (if it’s cooler than 65), it’s a Heating Degree Day.  In our area we have more Heating Degree Days than Cooling Degree Days, because the average temperature is below 65 more often than it is above 65.  

    Here’s an example: On November 28, 2016, the average temperature in Scappoose was 46 degrees. Taking 65 and subtracting 46, we get 19, so that day had 19 Heating Degree Days.  

    If you know the degree days in a month, you can compare it to other months to get a feel for how much warmer or colder it was. During months with a large number of heating degree days, you can expect your heating bills to be higher. 

    Month Average
    Temperature
    Heating
    Degree Days
    Cooling
    Degree Days
    Feb 2017 40 685 0
    Jan 2017 33 996 0
    Dec 2016 35 937 0
    Nov 2016 50 442 0
    Oct 2016 54 326 0
    Sep 2016 61 128 13
    Aug 2016 70 21 173
    July 2016 67 28 85
    June 2016 63 122 70
    May 2016 59 176 15
    Apr 2016 55 306 6
    Mar 2016 48 516 0
    Feb 2016 47 519 0
    Jan 2016 41 736 0
    Dec 2015 41 709 0
    Nov 2015 43 657 0
    Oct 2015 57 225 0
    Sep 2015 62 135 40
    Aug 2015 72 0 171
    July 2015 71 10 210
    June 2015 68 38 137
    May 2015 59 185 5
    April 2015 54 439 0
    Mar 2015 50 442 0
    Feb 2015 48 478 0
    Jan 2015 42 717 0

    We're here to help

    If your bill is unexpectedly high, give us a call at (503) 397-0590 to discuss it. We can review your energy usage patterns and talk with you about payment arrangements that you might qualify for. We can also help you figure out if a home energy evaluation would be a good step to take.

    Contact Us

    24-Hour Outages & Emergencies
    (503) 397-1844

    24-Hour Pay By Phone
    (503) 397-0590

    Business Hours
    8 a.m. - 5 p.m., M-F
    (See holidays

    Customer Accounts 
    (503) 397-0590

    Energy Services
    (503) 366-5470

    Engineering
    (503) 397-0760

    Operations
    (503) 366-3242

    General Information
    (503) 397-1844