How cold weather is impacting bills

A higher-than-normal bill can come as a shock and may leave you wondering why your heating costs are up. January’s long streak of cold weather in Southeast Michigan worked your furnace overtime to keep you warm, which typically leads to a higher bill (even if you keep your thermostat at the same or lower temperature).

It’s important to understand what can drive up the amount you pay for service to avoid a surprise when you open your bill.

  1. Weather

A big influence on the amount of energy you use to heat your home is the weather outside. January’s long snap of frigid weather made your furnace run more often and for longer, which increased the amount of energy you use.

You can reduce the weather’s impact on your bill by sealing air leaks that allow frigid air into your home and the warm air out. Use caulk or weather stripping to seal leaks around windows and doors and consider installing energy-efficient windows and doors when remodeling.

Also, remember to maintain a clear path to your gas meter by removing obstructions such as snow and ice. This will allow access during natural gas service visits, periodic safety inspections or emergencies.

     2. Longer bill cycles

Your bill covers a month’s worth of actual energy usage, but because of several factors, the exact number of days on your bill can vary from month to month. As a result, you may receive a bill that covers as many as 35 days of service, making your total larger even if your usage patterns didn’t change. Billing cycles can run between 26 and 35 days.

If your bill going up and down is making it difficult to budget, DTE offers several programs that can help you manage your monthly charges.

     3. Household changes

Did you have more people in your home in the last month? Typically, more people inside your home will increase the energy you use. Additionally, less sunlight and more time indoors due to the cold weather mean increased lighting and appliance use, so make sure to turn off unused appliances or unplug them from outlets.

It’s also important to make sure rugs and furniture are not blocking vents in your home. This could be preventing proper air circulation from your furnace.

     4. Increased usage

The main reason for a higher bill is usually higher energy use. Consider:

  • Did you raise your thermostat setting? Your furnace will work harder, increasing your energy use.
  • Were you home more often? This requires more heat to keep you comfortable, and you are likely using appliances more often.
  • Did you go in and out of the house more frequently? This potentially lowers the temperature inside and make your furnace turn on more often.

These are just a few of the potential reasons you may have used more energy, and increased usage will increase your bill.

To keep a handle on your usage, install a programmable thermostat and set it at 68 degrees Fahrenheit to stay warm while saving energy. With proper use throughout the year, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 annually in energy costs. You can also reduce the temperature at night when everyone is asleep. To stay comfortable around the house, put on an extra layer of clothes or use a blanket to stay warm so you won’t need to raise the thermostat.

For more tips on how to stay warm and manage your heating costs, visit


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