Cold weather season is here and so is the time to turn on the furnace. Besides checking your system to make sure it is in working order before you use it, you will also want to double check one other thing: your thermostat. Make sure the temperature setting is not higher than it should be, so it is not running more often than it needs to.
You will also want to check that it has not been put into "auxiliary mode" or "emergency heat" mode. As a result, this causes heat pump or geothermal units to run in back-up heat mode, which is often electric heat strips (like an electric furnace) unless you have propane back-up. The electric heat strips are not very efficient and can really increase your electric consumption. The result is a higher than normal electric bill for heating your home. We encounter a handful of people each winter who experience this issue and are always happy to help people solve their high usage problems.
Another factor that can affect your bill in the wintertime is the use of space heaters. Though they are typically small, the amount of electricity they use is rather large. The typical electric space heater uses 1,500 watts (which is 1.5 kWh) per hour. If you used an electric space heater for 16 hours in a day, that would be 24 kWh consumed per day by that space heater alone. If you used it the same amount of hours each day for a month, you would consume 720 kWh of electricity with that one space heater, which would cost you $85.68 on your electric bill, just for the use of that one space heater. If you can, use space heaters sparingly to save on your winter electric bills.
When talking with your neighbors or family about your bills, keep in mind that it is nearly impossible to compare your bill to theirs because of the following 10 factors:
- The source of heat could be different, including the size and age of the unit.
- The square footage of the two houses is likely different. Ceiling height could be different too.
- The number of doors and windows and the type and style of them could be different (air leaks).
- The amount of insulation in the walls, attic, and crawl space can be different.
- The thermostat setting could be different. You might be on 72, they might be on 68.
- The number of people living in the two houses could be different = more all-around usage.
- Because of lifestyle, the amount of laundry and lengths of showers is different.
- The size of water heater, use of a dehumidifier, space heater, and type of siding could differ.
- The amount of shade trees, amount of sun, or wind breaks from trees could be different.
- The way you use components such as TVs, computers, refrigerators, dishwasher, is different.
--As you can see, no two houses are the same, so it is very difficult to compare one house to another. You can make a significant difference on your bill by simply adjusting your thermostat down by just two degrees.