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High Electric Bills: HVAC Causes

High Electric Bills: Is My HVAC System To Blame?

Did you recently receive your electric bill and notice a massive jump in cost? Did you know that your HVAC System could be to blame for this?

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High electric bills are a common complaint during the super hot and super cold months. There are several different things that could be causing this increase so let’s dive right in.

Emergency Heat Running, Outdoor Unit Broken

This one obviously relates to the colder months and if you have a heat pump.

Heat pump systems are interesting in that they can essentially have two different ways to heat your home: the outdoor unit and the indoor unit (furnace).

Generally speaking, the outdoor unit is designed to heat your home as long as the outdoor temperature is at 34 degrees or above.

If it gets much colder than this, there is just not much heat outside that your condensor can work with to transfer inside, therefore, your system switches over to “emergency heat” mode.

When this change happens, your outdoor unit shuts down and your furnace takes over at heating your home.

This can cause some serious bill increases if the weather outside is extremely cold and you have an electric furnace.

The simplest way to think about it would be to imagine an over-sized toaster running for hours on end and chugging an enormous amount of electricity at the same time. 

When the weather drops below freezing outside, it is normal for emergency heat to take over.

However, if it is in the 40’s or higher outside, your heat pump should be heating your home, not your furnace.

If you notice your furnace is still heating your home when it is this warm out, check to make sure you have your thermostat set correctly.

If nothing changes, there is an issue with your heat pump that needs to be resolved.

Unit Low On Refrigerant

First, let’s note that your air conditioner is a closed loop system, meaning that you should never run out of refrigerant.

If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, this means that you have a leak somewhere in your system.

If this leak is not fixed, any new refrigerant added will just leak right back out again (you’re better off flushing your money down the toilet). It is possible to fix a unit with a leak, but it is most of the time only temporary and it also can cause undo strain on your air conditioner’s compressor.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on.

If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it will have to work a lot of overtime to be able to keep your house cool (or any if it’s very low). It’s not uncommon for an air conditioner to run for hours on end if this is the issue.

However, in order to have this issue properly diagnosed, you would need to have a professional HVAC company out to evaluate your system.

Unit Needs Maintenance

Did you know that most manufacturers require annual HVAC maintenance by a licensed company in order to keep the warranty on the unit active?

Yep, if your unit kicks the bucket and they find out that you haven’t had your unit maintained by a professional HVAC company, you’re out of luck.

Think of it this way, would a car manufacturer honor a warranty if you’ve never had the car serviced before and it breaks? Nope.

A unit that has never been maintained can also cause high electric bills.

If your outdoor unit looks like a bush is starting to grow out of it, or it’s covered in grass and other debris, this could be part of the issue.

Don’t expect to just clean the unit off and have your high electric bills be cut in half, but by having your air conditioner maintained annually it will help the unit last longer and avoid any spikes in bill charges.

Dirty Air Filter

Going along with the maintenance we just talked about, this fix is simple enough.

Make sure you keep your furnace filter clean and change it every 30 days (or more if you have a lot of pets ect).

If your furnace filter gets too dirty, it will restrict the air flow and force your HVAC system to work much harder to maintain the temperature in your home and causing high electric bills.

Undersized Equipment / Ductwork

This is something you would need a professional to determine.

If your HVAC system is undersized for you home, it is essentially not powerful enough to keep your home at a certain temperature. Imagine putting a window air conditioner in a big warehouse room and expecting it to cool the entire room (fun fact: it won’t happen).

This type of issue can also cause temperature variations on different floors.

Poor House Insulation

If you’ve never updated the insulation in your home, it may be time as this can definitely cause high electric bills.

This includes window insulation as well.

A poorly insulated home will not be able to retain the hot or cold air that you have flowing into it.

No one wants to pay to heat or cool the outdoors do they?

You can have all of this stuff checked out for you by having a routine home energy audit completed. They go over everything from your insulation to what light bulbs you use!

Need Some Help With Those Electric Bills?

Are you in need of some professional assistance in figuring out what is causing your high electric bills? We are here to help! Just give us a call today at 614-475-1800!