Your Xcel bill won’t drop much if you turn down the thermostat

Your Xcel bill won’t drop much if you turn down the thermostat

Xcel Energy advises customers to turn down their thermostats to save money. We found out what change can really do for your bill.

DENVER – It will be below freezing Tuesday night.

A night when Xcel Energy encourages customers to “turn your thermostat down a few degrees, ideally to 68 degrees or less” so customers can save on their energy bills.

How much does it save exactly?

Paulo Tabares, a mechanical engineering professor at the Colorado School of Mines, calculated numbers on a 1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 square foot home.

Each house produced the same relative energy savings.

“For every degree you raise or lower, you’re going to raise your heating bill by 3%, if you lower it by one degree, you’re going to lower your bill by 3%,” Tabares said.

Using a computer program created by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and calculating the data, he determined that a user can save 3% for every degree they turn down their thermostat and increase their bill by 3% for each degree.

“Let’s say you pay $100 a month for heating. That means for every degree you go to lower your set point, you’ll save $3 per month,” Tabares said.

But that’s assuming you turn your thermostat down one degree each day that month.

“Now if you say it’s not really much, and I agree, only $3, right? But if you reduce it by 5 degrees from 70 to 65, you’re talking about 15%,” Tabares said.

What about a night like Monday night, when it’s minus zero. What to do if you want to heat your house an extra degree. How much will it cost?

Using the example of the $100 bill, which saves about $3 a month, that would be about 10 or 11 cents for one night’s usage.

To calculate this estimate for your own home, find your gas bill. Take your total before franchise fees and taxes and subtract service and installation fees, DSMCA and energy assistance fees.

Then take what’s left and multiply that by 3%.

This is your one month total to raise or lower your temperature by one degree.

Now divide that by the number of days your meter has been billed for and that will give you an estimate per day for this one degree decision.

“What I’m doing is lowering the thermostat set point to 58 degrees Fahrenheit for the whole house,” said Dr. John Zhai, a professor of architectural engineering at the University of Colorado.

Zhai just received a high gas bill last month, so he and his wife are trying a new approach. They’re the only ones home at night, so they turn the thermostat down, while using a heater in the bedroom.

“The electric heater I use is very simple, very cheap, $100. They don’t even have temperature control. You know one to six settings,” Zhai said. “The heater I use, I use it for eight hours at night. I use minimum heat, just 200 watts as I use setting one. This will reduce the total energy consumption.

He said he doesn’t set his house below 55 degrees, to avoid freezing the pipes. He also heats his house a few hours before his alarm goes off.

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