We expect our heating bills to increase during the winter months, but sharp spikes are a cause for concern. If you’ve noticed that your heating bill has suddenly increased dramatically virtually overnight, there are a number of possible causes. In this article, we will look at the most common causes to help you get your energy bills under control.
Failing or Insufficient Insulation Levels
Every building has something called an “energy envelope” which, includes: entry doors, windows, skylights, exterior walls, and ceilings. These are effectively treated as enclosures for the property, and if the energy envelope is well insulated, the heat transfer can be minimized. In simple terms, this means that the indoor temperatures can be kept at a consistent level without the need for additional heating to compensate.
The inverse is true; poor insulation will allow the heat to escape, and as you might expect, this would increase the need for more indoor heating. A well insulated home will stay warm, and the energy bills can be decreased significantly. If your energy bill has spiked, the insulation may be failing in key areas, and it is probably a good idea to contact a local HVAC specialist to get them to perform an energy audit.
Heating System Inefficiency
Every heating system requires some kind of fuel or energy source in order to work. This could be gas or electricity, the exact source doesn’t really matter, but that heating system must be efficient. If you have a heating system that is inefficient, it will generate less fuel and cost you more in energy for the privilege. The best way to improve the efficiency of your heating system is to schedule some regular maintenance. Ideally, this should be carried out prior to each heating season, and early fall is the best time.
During the early weeks of fall, the weather is still pleasant, and any downtime required for servicing will have a less dramatic effect on indoor comfort levels. Many people leave HVAC maintenance until the last minute, or they don’t bother, and their heating system fails when the weather is colder. For this reason, your local professional HVAC specialist may be in demand, and there could be a delay.
If you have an older heating system and you’re noticing that the repairs are becoming too frequent, you may want to consider an upgrade. If you’re looking for a new heating system, pay close attention to the specifications and look for a high AFUE rating for a furnace and a high SEER rating for a heat pump. Significant advances have been made in recent years to improved energy efficiency to meet stringent environmental standards. This means that high efficiency heating systems are now better value than ever, and you can save a considerable amount on your energy bills without compromising your indoor comfort levels.
A Lack of Regular Maintenance
We’ve already touched on this point, but it is vitally important, and it bears repeating. An HVAC system represents a significant investment, and yet many people simply expect it to work without any maintenance. If you were to purchase a car and never get a tune-up it would eventually fail, and an HVAC system is no different.
An HVAC system is a complex piece of technology with electronic, electrical, and mechanical moving parts. We rely on it for most months of the year, and it needs to work hard to keep our homes comfortable. When a component fails, this usually happens at the worst possible time because of the increased demand for heat.
Some simple maintenance tasks such as replacing the air filter each month are easy to perform, and full instructions are provided in the owner’s manual. But, more complex maintenance should be left to a professional local HVAC specialist. A comprehensive service visit will include: inspecting, cleaning, calibrating, and testing your heating system to ensure that it is working at peak efficiency. Any minor faults can be detected before they develop into larger problems that will be more expensive to fix. When you look at the energy savings and the money saved on potential repair bills, some regular HVAC maintenance starts to look like a bargain.
Using an Outdated Thermostat
Many homeowners are still using outdated thermostats that they set and leave. This is extremely inefficient because if you forget to change the thermostat or your plans change and you cannot get home at the usual time, you may be heating the home for no reason.
When you think about thermostats, it’s better to imagine them as the brain of your HVAC system. Without the thermostat, the system would not turn on, and the desired temperature could not be set. Now imagine that you can have a smarter brain that you can control directly, and you can start to see the possibilities.
Adding a programmable thermostat to your heating system will allow you to turn the heating on and off during the day when you’re not at home. It’s a good idea to have a little heating to prevent frozen pipes and to keep pets comfortable. But, generally speaking, you can drop the operating temperature by around 7º with no negative effects for your home. Then around 30 minutes before you’re due to return home, you can program the thermostat to go back up to your desired temperature. This may seem like a very minor adjustment, but when you extrapolate this across an entire winter season, you can make significant energy savings.
If you want the ultimate in heating system controls, then you need to look into a smart thermostat for your home. As the name might suggest, this unit can be controlled remotely in real time with a handy app that you install on your favorite mobile device and PC. This allows you to make any adjustment you like from anywhere as long as you can get a WiFi signal, and this has even greater possibilities. Imagine that you are stuck at work unexpectedly; simply change the time when the heating turns back up, and you just saved yourself some energy. It’s also possible to monitor your energy use and make adjustments to improve the efficiency. If a fault develops in your HVAC system, the smart thermostat will inform you immediately!
If you want to avoid heating bills spikes, boost performance, and improve the efficiency of your heating system, contact your local HVAC specialist today.