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Hot weather could offset winter energy savings

The mild winter meant a dearth of heating degree days. Early in the cooling degree days season, the warm trend is having the opposite result.

Degree days are a measure of how much energy is needed to warm homes to 65 degrees in winter. One degree day means a one-degree difference between a day's average temperature and 65.

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The heating season was more than 1,100 degree days short of normal because the mild weather meant furnaces were given a break. The average temperature this winter was 5 degrees above normal, making it one of the mildest winters on record, and the 1.8 inches of snow was the least since 1972.

But as of Thursday, cooling degree days were three times above normal levels. It's still early, of course -- the cooling degree day total stands at 27, according to the average temperature as measured at BWI Marshall Airport, and compared to a standard 65 degrees. In a normal year, 9 degree days have been measured by this point in May.

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Perhaps anticipating the heat, utility Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said it will test its Peak Rewards program twice this week to check on improvements made last summer. The program gives customers rebates if they agree to have their air conditioning turned off for some or all of the summer's hottest days, when cooling systems strain the power grid.


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