Why does your electric bill change from one season to another?
Do electricity rates go up in the summer or in the winter compared to the spring and autumn? Or are there other factors that cause your bill to significantly change when the hot or cold months arrive?
And what can you do in order to keep your bill low regardless if the electricity prices change in the summer and winter or if they remain the same?
I’m an electrical engineer with more than a decade of experience, and I wrote this short guide in order to help you understand how you get billed during the different seasons, and how you can minimize its effect in order to keep more money for yourself.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Do Electricity Rates Go Up in The Summer?
Depending on your location, and on the energy provider, electricity rates might go up in the summer compared to the prices that you get charged during the spring, and that might lead to higher electric bills during the hot months of the year.
But in some places, the electricity prices do not go up in summer, but you might still get a significantly higher bill compared to the previous season for one or more of the reasons I will mention in the following section.
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Do Electricity Rates Go Up in The Winter?
Like it is in the summer, the electricity prices might go up during the winter in some locations and from some energy providers when compared to the prices in autumn, which causes a significantly high electric bill in the winter.
And in some other places and with some other energy providers, the prices might not change in the winter months. However, even with the prices are the same, you may still receive a high energy bill compared to the previous months, for one of the reasons I will mention below.
Why Do Electricity Prices Increase in Summer & Winter?
Electricity prices might go up during the summer and/or winter months in the areas where the TOU (Time-Of-Use) tariff structure is utilized.
What TOU tariff means is that you get priced different rates of electricity based on the time you withdraw each kilowatt-hour of electricity from the meter.
Basically, energy companies charge consumers higher rates (peak rates) during the time when there’s a lot of demand on the energy, and the normal rates (off-peak rates) during the time of normal demand, and sometimes, lower than the normal rates (super off-peak rates) during the time of the low demand.
And the peak, off-peak, and super off-peak might be:
- Hours during the same day. E.g. peak hours would be from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Days of the week. E.g. peak days would be the workdays of the week, and off-peak days would be the weekend days.
- Seasons of the year. E.g. peak seasons would be summer or/and winter, and off-peak seasons would be spring and autumn.
- Or, it could be a combination of two or all of the three above cases. E.g. Peak hours during the day in all seasons would be from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., but in summer and winter, the peak rates during these hours would also be higher than the peak rates during the same hours in spring and autumn.
Here’s an example where consumers pay higher prices during certain hours of the day (peak hours), and in summer, they even pay higher rates for these hours compared to other seasons.
And here’s another example where consumers pay peak rates during certain hours of the day (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.), and even for these hours, the electricity rate goes up in winter higher than it is in spring and autumn, and it goes up in summer even more. (Green rectangle)
The aim of electricity companies from utilizing this tariff is that they want to encourage people to distribute their consumption around the hour, week, and year in order to keep the demand on the grid as stable and regular as possible.
Why Do They Want to Distribute The Demand?
Because electricity companies are required to reliably supply electricity to all consumers when they need it without any outages, and if they don’t distribute the demand, what well happen is one of the two following situations:
- At peak-load times, the grid will be overloaded and that will cause some electricity distribution units to heat up and go out of service, disconnecting the power from a large area and causing economic losses to all: consumers, energy companies, and the public sector.
- If the don’t want such outages to happen, then they have to upgrade the current grid components such as power plants, transformers, and transmission lines, into a much larger capacity (double or triple the current size), in order just to use it for few hours of the day, and then keep it under-utilized during the rest of the hours.
Although the second situation seems better for consumers as they get all the electricity they want at the moment they wish, but issue would be the huge cost that would be needed to do the necessary upgrades, which requires a very long period of time in order to be paid back.
This is not feasible to energy companies, and the way to overcome such an issue would be to raise the electricity prices on all consumers all the time, not only in summer and winter, in order to make back their investment.
This is why, a better solution is to increase electricity rates in the peak-demand times such as summer and winter, and during certain hours in the days, in order to push the customers to redistribute their usage of electricity and avoid overloading the grid.
And in some areas where summer is not very hot, but winter is very cold, energy prices might go up in winter and remain the same in summer.
While in hotter areas, electricity rates might go up only in summer and remain normal in the winter if the weather is not very cold and the demand doesn’t significantly increase.
However, although the increase in electricity prices during the summer and winter months might cause an increase in your electricity bill, but it might not be the only reason for that change.
There are many other reasons that might cause your summer and winter electric bill to go up regardless if the rates increased during these seasons or not, which is what will be discussed in the following section.
5 Reasons Bills Increase Regardless if Electric Rates Go Up in Summer & Winter
Heating & Cooling
Heating and cooling are among the loads that usually cost the most on energy bills.
And even if heating was not provided through a gas or diesel boiler, that doesn’t mean that it is not one of the costs that your electric bill includes, as you still need to use electric pumps to circulate the water in the pipes.
And during summer, your use of the cooling systems would significantly increase compared to spring, especially if you live in a hot area.
And during the winter, your usage of the heating systems would increase compared to the usage in autumn.
This would make your electric bill increase in summer and winter compared to spring and autumn, even if the electricity rates were the same and didn’t go up in the hot or cold months.
Try to utilize the habits that can save on the air conditioning in order to lower your electric bill during the summer, and utilize similar habits to save on the heating energy consumption during winter.
Staying More at Home in Winter
During winter, we all tend to spend more time at home, and since it gets dark earlier, would need to turn on the lights for longer hours in order to satisfy our basic needs of comfort and productivity.
This is in addition to using appliances like the TV, computer, …etc., for longer hours.
These all add up and can cause your bill to increase even if the electricity rates in winter didn’t go up. Then how about if the prices go up in the winter and you increase your energy consumption at the same time.
The solution to this is to try to turn off the appliances, especially lighting units, when you don’t need them, in order to save energy, as leaving the lights on wastes a lot of electricity, and maybe switch to using LED light bulbs as they save energy.
Water Heating in Winter
As it gets colder, it becomes more uncomfortable to use cold water to wash your hands or feet or wash dishes.
This is why we want to keep the water heated all the time, and that requires a constant supply of energy, which further increases your electric bill even if the rates in winter didn’t go up.
The solution to this issue is to try to turn on and off the water heater based on your needs, as leaving the hot water on all the time is not cheaper as people think.
Water heater timer can save you money if you use them to control or schedule when to turn on and off the heater in order to make it easier on yourself instead of having to remember it in your mind all the time.
More Laundry in Summer
We change clothes a lot more frequently in the summer than we do in other season, and we need to do laundry more often as a result.
And this causes your electricity consumption to increase, especially that you also need to iron your clothes afterwards.
A solution to this would be to try to do laundry in full loads in order to run the washing machine for fewer cycles every months, use natural drying instead of forced drying that uses a lot of electricity, and iron clothes in bulk in order not keep heating the iron from the scratch every time you want to iron few pieces of clothes.
Also, you may pick the right time to do laundry to save on energy bill during the off-peak hours when the electricity prices are lower.
Shift in Consumption Times
Sometimes, the prices do not go up in summer or in winter, and your consumption might not significantly increase, but the electric might go up significantly.
The reason for this would the change in your behavior where you shift doing certain activities from the hours of the off-peak demand and lower electricity rates into the peak-hours with high rates.
This means that you still consume the same number of kWh’s per months, but the time of using some of these kWh’s changes in the hours of the day when you pay a higher rate per kWh.
This is one of the reasons why electric companies change meters and install smart ones that can record the hour of withdrawing every kWh from the grid.
And this would significantly increase your bill if you were not conscious about your usage of electricity.
The solution to this would be to find out what are the peak and the off-peak hours specified by your power supplier, which can be found on the bill, their website, or by calling them, and try to shift as many of your electricity usage to outside the peak hours.
Conclusion – Overcome Electricity Prices Increase in Summer & Winter
There are many ways to reduce your electric bill in summer such as saving on the cooling systems, using natural light, using fans instead of air conditioners when it is not too hot, and doing laundry and ironing in bulk.
And there are many ways to save on electric bill in winter such as keeping doors and windows closed, fixing any broken insulation, knowing when to use the central heating, the air conditioner, or the space heater, turning off the lights you are not using, and more.
And there are many devices and gadgets that can help you save electricity at home.
And there are many reasons why we should save energy regardless if the electricity prices go up in summer and winter, or if they remain the same, such as saving the environment and conserving resources for future generations.
And after all of that, you can even make yourself more immune to changes in electricity rates during the summer and winter months, and saving the environment at the same time, by generating your own electricity through a solar panel system that can be installed on the roof.
Even if you don’t have the capital, there are some companies like SunPower that can guide you on finding financing solutions to build a complete solar plant without a down payment.
That’s how you stop worrying if electricity rates go up in the summer or winter, save money to spend in other areas in your life, and help the environment all at once.
I hope that my guide was helpful for you.
If you still have any question on anything mentioned here or if you need any help, please, tell me in the comments’ section below, and I will do my best to help you out