January arctic blast increases electric use, leads to higher electric bills

An arctic blast that dropped Central Texas temperatures into the teens in January, the coldest air to hit the area in several years, has led to increased energy consumption for Bluebonnet’s members, which means higher electric bills.

“Those prolonged temperatures at or below freezing had a direct impact in how much electricity our residential members used last month,” said Matt Bentke, Bluebonnet’s general manager. “We constantly monitor how much energy our members are using. When we see temperatures that low for that long, we always see a spike in the amount of energy homes use and an increase in electric bills.”

There are two factors in calculating an electric bill: cost and consumption. The cost per kilowatt hour, which is the unit of measurement for electricity, rarely changes. However, consumption varies from month to month, mostly depending on the weather. The typical family uses more electricity during cold winter and hot summer months than in moderate spring and fall months. Therefore, their electric bills are higher during the winter and summer.

Bluebonnet’s residential members used on average 334 kilowatt hours more electricity this January compared to January 2017. That increased consumption led to an average increase of 21 percent on families’ electric bills.

“The cold weather hits families whose homes have all-electric heat systems particularly hard,” Bentke said. “But even homes that use natural gas or propane for heat will see an increase in their bill because the electric fans that circulate the warm air run more often and longer.”

Bluebonnet’s members can see how weather affects their electric bill. Members who have set up an online account on, can use the co-op’s Energy Tracking Tool to see how much energy they are using down to the hour, how much it’s cost them and see what their bill is projected to be at the end of their billing cycle.

Those who do not have an online account can easily set one up. All that is needed is their account number, the name on the account and to follow the simple directions.

A temperature overlay feature on Bluebonnet’s online Energy Tracking Tool shows the correlation between low-in-the-winter and high-in-the-summer temperatures and electric consumption as well as cost. Bluebonnet’s members can see how weather impacts their energy consumption on an hourly, daily and billing period or yearly basis. They can compare their energy use during a mild spring or fall month, like April or October, to the hot summer and cold winter months. Learn more about this powerful tool at

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