Why Is My Electric Bill So High? – Part 4

We’ve spent the last few blog posts discussing the issue of high electricity bills. Now we move on to how your Heat Pump system may be causing a spike in your electricity bill. Some time back we posted a blog on how a Heat Pump works. To put it briefly, you heat pump uses the outdoor air to warm up refrigerant that is being pumped through the system by a compressor. Yes, that’s right! In the winter time, there is still enough heat in the air on an average cool day to heat your home. Having said that, here is one of the biggest factors that could cause a spike in your electricity bill if you heat your house using a Heat Pump: Just how cold has it been?

Heat Pumps are an efficient way to heat your home when air temperatures outside are above freezing. Once the temperature drops to around freezing they can still be effective, but their efficiency begins to decline. The first reason is that due to the function of a Heat Pump the outdoor unit will start to get a build-up of frost when the temperatures are close to freezing. Of course, it is designed to eliminate this build-up by performing a defrost cycle are certain intervals. However, during the defrost cycle, it will use more electricity because the blower unit in your home, typically called a fan coil unit, will kick on the backup electric heat strips to keep from blowing cold air around your house. So, during that defrost cycle, the outdoor unit is running using the normal amount of electricity while the indoor unit is using more electricity than normal.

See where we’re going with this? If you’ve had an unusual number of days, or nights, with temperatures close to freezing than your heat pump has had to go through more defrost cycles. And that will result in a jump in the amount of electricity it used.

But there’s something else related to the outdoor air temperature. If it gets really cold, and I mean 25 degrees or colder, then the Heat Pump really becomes ineffective at heating your home. The average Heat Pump system isn’t smart enough to know that so it will just keep running and running trying the best it can to heat your home while not really doing any good. Meanwhile your thermostat knows your home isn’t getting any warmer by just using the Heat Pump so it will kick-on the backup electric heat strips. The overall effect is that your house will still be comfortable, but it is because the less efficient electric heater in the fan coil is really providing the heat. So, this will really cause a jump in your electric bill.

With weather patterns changing all over the world, it may be time to consider if your Heat Pump alone is still the best way to heat your home. With average cool temperatures, a Heat Pump is arguably a very good way to keep your family comfortable. A wonderful alternative is a dual-fuel system, also called a hybrid system. This combines a fuel-burning furnace with a Heat Pump. The controller in such systems is intelligent enough to know at what point to quit using the Heat Pump and instead use the furnace. Also, during the defrost cycles the furnace is kicked on instead of electric heaters which also improves energy efficiency.

If you are interested in getting a quote to turn your traditional heat pump system into a dual-fuel or hybrid heat pump system, then please give the friendly folks at GAMA Air a call at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to schedule a visit for a free estimate. You won’t be disappointed since we guarantee your satisfaction 100%.

But there’s one more reason that you may a spike in your electric utility bill if you have a heat pump central heating system? Stay tuned to our next segment to find out why your electric bill may be so high.

Would you like to ask a question about heating or air conditioning but don’t know who to ask? Visit our Ask an Expert page, fill out the form, and our resident expert will get back to you quickly with the answer.

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