Oh yes, it’s that time of the year again. The seasons are about to change, and every time that happens, we feel a slight twinge in the back of our minds at the thought of the upcoming electric bills. It always happens when summer and winter come around. With the prices of gas being higher than electricity lately, though, it seems like the fall and winter months sting more. There’s no doubt that you want to save as much energy as you can while operating your HVAC system. Very few of us are wasteful or so brazen with our money to let our HVAC system cost us a pretty penny. There are times, though, when you get an initial bill and you are absolutely shocked by what you see. You think to yourself, “How could this possibly be right?” We’ve all experienced it before, and we’re going to give you a few tips to troubleshoot your bill before you go blaming your HVAC system.
First and foremost, call the energy company to see if there was an error made on their behalf. We’re human, and errors happen, so don’t rule it out. Was the meter read correctly? Was there a computer glitch? Are you being charged for someone else’s energy? If you feel there’s a significant jump in your energy bill that cannot be justified, this should be the first step you take in your sleuth work. If you’re told that everything was done correctly, but you still feel awkward about the resolution, ask to have a technician from the energy company come out and evaluate your meter to make sure it’s operating properly.
If the error is not on the part of the energy company or your meter, you need to examine your own habits. Many times people are shocked by a bill, but when they really sit down and think about their energy usage, it makes sense. For example, if winter’s coming and you’re preparing more meals that require pre-heating an oven for a good period of time, because it’s comfort food, and you add that amount up over a month period, that’s a significant increase in your energy usage. Are you leaving your fireplace on all day? Are you running your dryer more often and longer because of thick winter clothes? Really analyze your habits, and if you can’t see how even significant changes in your habits could cause your bill to increase by “X” amount, then you need to consider if the issue lies with your insulation.
Most houses lose a significant amount of energy and heat because of poor insulation. For example, is your water heater covered with an insulation blanket to protect it from chilly weather? Do you have insulation running along your door frames and windows? Are your windows double pane? Is all of your heat escaping through your high ceilings and/or roof? Your HVAC system is only as good as the environment it is in. If you run a heater in an open field, odds are, you’ll only feel the heat within a 2-foot diameter surrounding the heater. Same concept applies to your home. You need to make sure your HVAC system is optimized to prevent large energy bills.
Another good idea is to investigate whether any of your existing equipment needs to be upgraded. If you’re working with outdated equipment, it could be causing you a large amount of excess money in energy bills. Purchasing energy efficient models, like Energy Star qualified products, may cost you an initial investment up front, but it will save you a healthy amount of money in the long run because of your lowered energy bills.
Lastly, if you’ve exhausted all your options, you just may need an HVAC technicians help. It could very well be that a thermostat is malfunctioning (i.e. your programmable thermostat is on the “fritz”). It could be that your ducts need to be cleaned. It could be that your vents are not optimized for efficiency. Your HVAC technician will be able to troubleshoot the issue and provide some solutions that will work well for your family.