We all thought it was an exceptionally cold January, but just how cold was it? We asked Bill Murray with Alabamawx.com to help us compare this January to previous years. Long story short, it was COLD! Here are some interesting stats from the meteorology desk:
January’s average temperature of 36.1⁰F ranks as the 5th coldest month in the city’s history and the coldest since 1985. It was also twelve degrees colder on average than January 2013 (January 2013: 48.3⁰F and January 2014: 36.1⁰F).
January 7 was the coldest day, with numerous records broken across Central Alabama.
There were four days when the temperature never got above freezing in Birmingham. This resulted in two, sixty-hour stretches where the mercury never got over 32⁰F.
So how did these temperatures impact heating demands?
January 2014 featured 888 Heating Degree Days (HDD). HDD is a measurement designed to reflect the demand for energy needed to heat a building. It is derived by subtracting the average temperature for the day from 65⁰F. The average for January in Birmingham is 644. The 888 is the most since 1985 and the first most ever in any month.
What can you do to conserve energy?
When temperatures are at an unprecedented low like this past January, quite frankly, it’s next to impossible to keep your energy bill from increasing. But, there are some things that you can do and control to prevent wasted energy. Here are a few tips that are proven to help conserve energy.
- Take advantage of the heat from the sun. Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Cover drafty windows. Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
- Adjust the temperature. When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
- Find and seal leaks. Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. And, add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
- Maintain your heating system. Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently. Also, don’t forget to replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
The impact of the cold weather on your gas bill and what you can do.
January’s cold weather will impact everyone’s energy bills (gas and electric). We understand that these extraordinarily cold temperatures will significantly affect many family budgets. Because of extreme fluctuations in our weather at times, we encourage all of our customers to sign up for Average Monthly Billing (AMB). The AMB plan spreads your gas costs throughout the year. The amount you pay is calculated each month so you receive the greatest benefit with AMB when you stay on the plan year round. This is the best way to prevent large fluctuations in your energy bills.
We also understand that for many, January’s cold temperatures have created hardships. If you are having trouble paying your natural gas bill, give us a call at 1-800-292-4008 and we will help set up a payment plan to assist you.