Degree Days Provide Additional Insight in Energy Consumption

Consumers can conserve even in extreme conditions


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Energy degree days measure the gap between outdoor temperatures and a targeted indoor temperature. The wider the gap, the more air-conditioning or heating units have to run to reach and maintain the indoor set point.

While the state’s power generation and distribution systems have kept pace with record-setting demand in the past few weeks, Dallas Morning News writer James Osborne rightly notes that high demand means a high level of electricity consumption, which comes with higher bills. That doesn’t only happen during the hottest parts of the hottest day.

Energy planners use what they refer to as energy degree days to measure the gap between hourly outdoor temperatures and a targeted indoor temperature. Energy degree days are broken up between heating and cooling. And the wider the gap, the more air-conditioning or heating units have to run to reach and maintain the indoor set point.

In a normal August, there are 638 cooling degree days at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport weather station. In the first 10 days this month, there were 261 cooling degree days.

While the concept can be dense, knowing the number of energy degree days in a given period is another layer of information that consumers can use to understand the impact weather has on their electricity consumption.

For TXU Energy customers, there also are easy tools such as the TXU Energy MyEnergy DashboardSM and Budget Alerts, which allow each customer to choose a monthly spending level and then get alerts when they appear to be headed toward a bill that is higher than that amount. The alerts go out with enough time for customers to adjust their electricity consumption to avoid the higher spending.

And what can consumers do?

The first thing is to really manage air-conditioning. Turning up the thermostat, avoiding hot foods and hot showers, using ceiling and box fans and keeping doors and windows closed are among the steps residential consumers can take to manage their consumption.

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