Are you one of those? Yes, you. Just opened your Texas January electric bill and it is five times what you normally pay. You then post it on Facebook  – that your electric company raised their rates!  You call your electric broker or retailer.  You kick and scream and jump up and down and hold your breathe. . .

Welcome to what we call a “Polar Vortex!”

If that describes you, you’re not alone. Almost everyone has an electric bill and almost everyone had an incredibly high electric bill for January. Most likely your rate didn’t go up at all, but it is pretty much a guarantee that your usage went up – thus, your bill went up and here’s why. OK – faceplant on the forehead! We just had record cold temperatures. Now if your home or business is heated with gas or propane, your hit won’t be nearly as dramatic, so I’m talking to the people out there with electric heat.

Most of us if you don’t have gas use a heat pump for heat. For the most part, it is a very efficient way of heating your home – BUT – what most people don’t realize is that a heat pump has an effective range, and for the most part when the temperature starts dropping below 30 degrees, the heat pump shuts off and your auxiliary heat kicks in.  Some units on your thermostat will actually say “aux heat” or sometimes “emerg heat.”  That means to continue heating your home, electric heat strips come on inside your air handler.  Have you ever looked inside a toaster or a conventional electric space heater?  Remember those electric grids that start glowing red hot? That’s it. Many of your heat strips are going to look similar, and as that glows red hot – imagine the kilowatts burning like crazy!

So just know that your bill is going to be high! Next record cold snap – and February may bring another one – burn the fireplace more for heat or put another blanket on the bed. Lower the thermostat during the day and wear more clothes around the house.  Stay warm my friend!

OK – before I leave you. This would be a great time to check your bill to see if we can lower your rate because I know for a fact that 90% of everyone out there is paying WAY TOO MUCH.  For a free bill evaluation, give me a call or an email. 936-674-5912 or

Lee Miller is a energy consultant broker and independent senior consultant with Ambit Energy.