Pointe Coupee Electric reminds members that high-energy use during the winter could lead to higher power bills after temperatures begin to rise.

General Manager Joseph H. “Jodie” Cotten points out that monthly power bills reflect energy use that occurred during the previous 30 to 60 days.

Thinking about how electricity is used - and how much is used - is not usually a priority for many homeowners and businesses, especially during high demand periods such as the recent cold snaps and winter storms.

But that changes when the bill arrives.

According to Randy Pierce, CEO of the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, which represents the state’s electric co-ops, consumers should be aware that unusually high power bills can arrive long after extreme weather is gone.

“When we have unusually cold winters or very hot summers, high bills begin to arrive once the weather has turned milder. Then consumers want to know why their bill has gone through the roof, and they often question if their meter is functioning correctly,” Pierce said. “In the great majority of cases, it’s simply because so much more power was consumed.”

He said there could be a span of two months from the time a kilowatt hour is consumed and the time it shows up on a power bill, pointing out that unlike groceries and gasoline, electricity is billed and paid for long after it is actually consumed.

Other factors may come into play, such as longer billing cycles and more energy use due to the fact that schools and businesses shut down during inclement weather and families stayed indoors and used far more power than normal playing with electronics, watching TV, baking, etc.

In the winter, heating costs generally account for the largest percentage of residential bills and consumers are quick to reach for the thermostat without realizing that just one degree difference can increase heating costs 6-8 percent. Those who have electric heat are often hit the hardest. Electric heat is the most inefficient form of heating, and during extreme cold weather, does create more energy usage, which in turn leads to higher electric bills.

In December, January and the first half of February, temperatures were exceptionally cold as a polar vortex left the area with extremely cold weather for an extended period of time. In December, only seven days out of the 31 had lows exceeding 40 degrees.

Pierce noted that electric cooperatives are non-profit, member-owned power providers that only charge the amount that is required to cover the cost of serving their members.

Remember that all electricity usage counts, and it really adds up.