Six-month weather outlook predicts average bills

Last month, Punxsutawney Phil stuck his head out of his little man cave and saw his shadow, which meant we needed to keep our winter wear handy – a lesson we learned yet again this week, as temperatures see-sawed by more than 40 degrees in a single day.

We don’t have a furry fellow like Phil, but our friends in the forecasting business at Schneider Electric did just report to CPS Energy what kind of weather we can expect during the next six months. We use that information to help plan our generation needs.

Let’s start by introducing a new friend to the mix – El Niño. We’re expected to be in a borderline El Niño phase through June, which means temps are expected to be near to slightly below normal. No extremes are forecast, which means our A/C units may not have to kick into overdrive this spring like they did during 2011.

This graphic shows the normal temps for San Antonio for the next four-month period.

Normal temps

Forecasters are predicting about 36 days will hit 90-plus degrees over the next four months, with an estimated peak temperature of 100 degrees. While that may sound hot, it’s milder than the weather we experienced in 2011.

Come July and August, the forecast predicts slightly above average temperatures by a degree or two. Again, nothing drastic.

So, maybe… just maybe, this spring and summer weather will not have as dramatic (and expensive) an impact on our energy bills. Normal seasonal bills would be a welcome relief after this unusually cold winter.

The polar plunge continues to affect natural gas prices nationwide, however; so, customers will see that reflected in continued higher fuel adjustment charges on bills.

This is also the time of the year when utilities in the south, including CPS Energy, take down units for maintenance, which means the electric fuel cost is up as well. But, hopefully, with the need to heat homes winding down, residential electric and gas use is expected to be lower in March than February. The result should be lower bills.

Improving a home’s energy efficiency is the best way to control energy costs. Now’s the time for qualified low-income customers to take advantage of our free Casa Verde weatherization program; others can save money with one of our many rebates, including those for insulation, and window and central A/C units. To better manage your energy, check out our free Home Manager or Smart Thermostat.

Turning back to that spring gardening for a moment, the long-term forecast doesn’t show any relief from the drought, with the exception of May and possibly June. So, don’t expect a drought buster unless the hurricane season, which begins in June in the Atlantic, comes through with some surprises. And just as the cheapest energy is that which you don’t use, conserving water saves not just a precious resource, but money, too. The San Antonio Water System offers lots of ways to save.

Christine Patmon

Christine is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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