Weather and Your Texas Electricity Bill
Everyone in the state of Texas is familiar, even if they don't understand why, of the fact that their electricity bills might rise and fall from month to month depending on the time of the year. For Texans, this fact is specifically true in the summertime. But what might be curious to people is how this happens, even if a customer has a fixed rate plan and fastidiously keeps their thermostat at the same setting, month in and month out throughout the course of the year. So if this is the case, why does your electricity bill fluctuate? Well, there are many different reasons, but unquestionably, a huge factor that affects your electricity bill is the weather.
For Texans, lets start with what we're most familiar with, which is the summertime. As I've said, everyone knows that our bills go up in the summer, and we know basically that this is because the summers in Texas get hotter. But why does this affect your electric bill? Well, to understand why this is, you need to wrap you head around the basic understanding of temperature and your electricity bill.
For Texans, even if you keep your thermostat at 72 all year round, when it's 100 degrees outside, suddenly your generators have to work to move the temperature down 28 degrees, when they might perhaps only have to work to move it 4 degrees from 68 to 72 in mid-October. That means that in the summer, the generators are working four times as hard to keep your apartment at a constant temperature. So the general rule is that the harder a generator has to work, the higher the cost of your electricity bill. Seems fairly simple, right?
Summer Weather and Your Electricity Bill
The same principle about electricity bills and the cost of cooling your place has other affects on the cost of your summer electricity as well. We've already discussed the effort it takes to keep the electricity in your home at a constant rate, and how that relates to the cost/amount of electricity you use. Well, that general idea also applies for the actual creation of electricity as well. If it takes more energy to keep your home cool in the summer, well, that extra electricity has to come from somewhere. This means that the actual generators that create the electricity for your home have to work harder (or more generators will have to be utilized) to make up for this increased need for energy.
So not only are you using more electricity to get the same results, but the costs to generate the electricity for the local Transmission Distribution Service Provider (companies like ONCOR and Centerpoint) increase as well. Naturally, that increase in costs will be passed onto the Retail Electricity Provider who sells the electricity to the customer. And that increase will in a measure be passed onto the customer.
But let's reference this with a recent real world example that happened recently in the Texas electricity market. Recently, an electricity generator in Texas went offline for an extended period of time. Well, this put an extreme amount of strain on the other generators to keep up with the demand for all of the electricity customers in the state of Texas. They generators have to be run constantly. Imagine driving your car at 80 miles per hour for 24 hours straight. Eventually, something is going to happen, be it you'll run out of gas, the car will overheat, or something inside will break.
Now consider that this came at a time of peak summer heat and in the midst of an extremely brutal Texas drought, which has also been working overtime to make sure that Texas isn't getting any kind of reprieve from the heat. So all things considered, you're talking about a lot of factors that have been putting extreme stress on all of the generators in Texas, and one finally broke and went offline. That's one less generator to keep up with the same demand.
So the weather and oppressive heat were a double-edged sword in this instance. The excessive drought and heat caused the generators to work overtime to keep up with the increased demand for customers to keep their homes and business cool. These two factors combined to essentially cause a generator to go offline. So before when the demand was at its peak, now there's even one less generator helping to produce electricity and keep things cool.
This caused the price of electricity to go up even higher, which was a cost difference that had to be paid out by both the Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) like Bounce Energy, Reliant, TXU, etc. These companies who sell electricity to customers have to pay higher prices for them, and that cost is then passed onto the customers themselves. And all of this can be tied in directly to the oppressive summer weather in the state of Texas.
Winter and Your Electricity Bill
Well, we've taken a look at summer, but now let's take a look at how your electricity bill will be impacted by cold weather. Now, things are different in the state of Texas than they are in the northern states, for certain, but lets take a second to overview how it works all over.
The same way that the summertime is the most expensive time of the year for Texas, in the northern states, the most expensive time of the year is the wintertime. Because in 15 or 20 degree weather, the cost of raising the temperature of a house to 70 degrees is much more expensive than trying to do it from 55 or 60. And the primary method of heating houses up north comes from natural gas consumption. So, again, the more natural gas that is consumed, the higher the cost of the natural gas because of the increased demand.
One important thing to consider, not that it matters to a person's pocketbook, is that much like houses down in Houston with gas ranges, almost all houses up north have a natural gas bill and an electricity bill each month. Up north, it's common for natural gas directly to be the source of heat in people's individual homes, as where in Texas natural gas is used as fuel in the power plants to create the electricity people use in their homes to both heat and cool as well as turn on the lights. So when the winter sets in, it's the gas bill that goes up, not necessarily their electricity bills.
But at the end of the day, we're still talking about an increase in everyone's utility bills in the wintertime. And the take away here is simply a further illustration that the different weather and the seasons have a strong effect on the costs of a person's individual electric bills.
General Weather and Catastrophes and Your Electricity Bill
It probably goes without saying, but there are other weather events that can affect your electricity bills, most of these are a lot more obvious but are still worth mentioning. On the largest scale would be weather catastrophes, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Obviously these things, if they disrupt your local power plants or power lines, are going to disrupt your electricity flow.
Floods and mudslides, volcanic eruptions, obviously anything that makes a news broadcast as some kind of weather event is going to inevitably come with electricity disruptions. But other minor events can also affect things as well. In the north, ice storms can cause tree branches to snap and knock down power lines, or even damage electricity generators, which again will affect electricity flow. Freezing is less common in the south, but flooding happens regularly and has been known to cause electricity disruptions as well.
Granted, all of the things I've listed in this section are in the nature of cutting off your electricity, which at the end of the month will mean a lower bill, as opposed to the main theme of what I've been writing about, which is ways in which the weather will cause your electricity bill to fluctuate. Still, it's interesting to consider just how every facet of the weather can affect your electricity bill on a month to month basis.