New England winters historically have often been brutal and cold. Recently however, it has gotten worse. Our winters have left us with less than desirable amounts of snow and significantly below average temperatures. Summer hasn’t been ideal either. Many days have been in the upper 90’s and for New Englander’s that is quite simply…unbearable.
What does this mean for New Englanders and their comfort? It’s been something to strive towards…and not always easily achieved. The quick fix is to put on more layers, crank up the thermostat or keep the fires burning. In the summer there seems to be fewer options—you just turn on the air-conditioner. All of these choices, aside from layering, weigh in on our wallet.
You would think, as thick-skinned New Englanders, we would know how to keep ourselves comfortable and keep our energy bills down. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
All over the U.S, but specifically in New England, the ratio of annual peak-hour electric demand to average hourly demand has risen over the past 20 years. New England’s peak-to-average energy demand has dramatically increased from 1.52 in 1993 to 1.78 in 2012.
What that means is that the peak-hour energy demand in New England rose 78% above the average hourly level.
This rise has a number of unwanted consequences. Firstly, cost. But, perhaps of equal importance is the drain on electric generators and the potential problems for homeowners and businesses.
Electric generators in New England now are faced with decreasing average utilization. There has been a shift from what was once consistent demand over the course of the year, to extremely high demands in shortened “peak” time segments. The revenue funding these electric generators is becoming more sporadic magnifying the need for capacity market payments.
We have come to expect hot summer days to translate into cool-aired nights in our homes. Similarly, our expectations in winter are comfort and warmth despite below zero temperatures.
Energy efficiency, or it’s preferred term, energy savings, can give us that comfort. Energy efficiency enables those old drafty windows and boundless inefficiencies in ones’ home to be rectified. The cold wind blowing between the crooked doorframe can be blocked, insulation can keep the below freezing temperatures away from your skin and efficient heaters provide you with consistent comfort as you aspire to thaw out in the warmth of your home. And in the summer, when we are using substantial amounts of energy at peak periods, we can be comfortable without being wasteful. Our wallets, our comfort and the New England electric generators will thank us.