Electric-Heat Drives Up Consumption, No Snow Required

Nearly half of Texans have heating systems that rely primarily on electricity


A snow shoveler crosses a street during a winter snowstorm in Cambridge, Massachusetts January 24, 2015.  Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Though snow is not forecast, cold temperatures can drive up electricity consumption for Texans who have electric heating systems. 
Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

The recent winter storms in the Northeast United States dropped loads of snow and increased the use of home heating fuels, but it doesn’t take severe weather to drive up electricity consumption for Texans who have electric heating systems.

According to ERCOT data, just less than half of Texans appear to have heating systems that rely primarily on electricity. That includes baseboard strips and heat pumps.

The generally heavy consumption of baseboard strips is fairly well established – particularly compared to other heating sources – but the impact of heat pumps can be confusing. That’s because heat pumps can be tremendously efficient in mild temperatures and when properly managed.

However, the U. S. Department of Energy says a heat pump’s capacity and efficiency “degrades significantly at cold temperatures.”

And while just more than half of Texans appear to have gas-fueled heating systems, it’s important to remember that those systems also depend on electricity for fans and other components.

All consumers can manage their winter heating consumption and spending by regulating their thermostat settings and maintaining other good energy habits.

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