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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

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Why lowering your thermostat in the winter can help conserve electricity

February 13, 2024 | Terry Zank | energy efficiency, energy savings, weather
Woman adjusting a smart thermostat on white wall, closeup.

When OPPD encouraged customers to conserve energy use in January during Winter Storm Gerri, this question came up: If I have a natural gas furnace, how does lowering the setting on my thermostat help save electricity?

Eric BenSalah, an OPPD energy consultant, provides this answer: “A gas furnace’s electricity use comes from the blower that moves the warm air throughout the home. On average, a blower uses about 400 watts of energy while in operation.

“By comparison, high-efficiency, variable-speed blowers can often use as little as 75 watts of energy,” he said.

“Of course, when it’s really cold, like it was earlier this winter, your furnace’s blower will cycle on more often and run for longer periods of time,” he said. “That makes lowering your thermostat by a few degrees one of the best ways to reduce your electrical consumption in the winter.”

Last month, when OPPD asked its customer-owners to conserve electricity, residential, business, commercial and industrial customers chipped in to help reduce energy demand during that period.

When large numbers of customers heed such calls to conserve, their collective effort helps decrease the strain on the system during periods of peak usage, which typically occur during extreme weather. This type of response by customers supports OPPD in its ongoing effort to provide reliable electric service.


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About Terry Zank

Terry Zank is a contributor to The Wire and senior digital channel specialist at OPPD, where he has worked for 30 years. He and his wife have three sons. Terry enjoys bike riding, playing racquetball, hiking, watching college football, watching great movies from years’ past, and citing quotes from those movies, much to his family’s chagrin.

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