Why Is My Electric Bill So High? – Part 5

You can’t spend too much effort saving energy. If you’re like me, you’re careful to turn off lights in empty rooms, you keep your thermostat set at a reasonable temperature, and you’ve replaced many of your standard light bulbs with higher-efficiency light bulbs. That’s why we’ve been spending time on the last several blog posts discussing what to do if you think your electric utility bill is high.

In Part 1 we covered how to analyze your electric utility bills and figure out what is really happening. Part 2 went on to help you figure out what in your home is using so much electricity. Part 3 got into your heating system and how that might be affecting how much electricity your home is using. Then Part 4 specifically dealt with how winter weather could affect your electric consumption if you have a Heat Pump central heating system. 

Now that spring is right around the corner you may not be worrying about the cold weather anymore. So that’s what makes Part 5 the perfect topic to make that transition from the winter cold to the summer heat. Why? Because this problem we will deal with will affect how much electricity you use in the winter or in the summer. If your electric bills have been higher than normal, and you have a Heat Pump heating system, then this is worth taking note of.

When is the last time you had your Heat Pump system tuned-up? Does that have anything to do with your electric usage? Absolutely. As you will recall in an earlier blog post about how Heat Pumps work, the fuel used to heat your home is essentially electricity. That’s a simplified statement, but very true. So, here’s where the topic of maintenance comes into the picture: If your Heat Pump system has not been tuned-up in a long time, then it is almost certainly using more electricity to keep you comfortable than it should be. This is due to two main reasons:

1. Dirt. Yep, a dirty unit makes it harder to heat your home, and therefore uses more electricity to do so. Over time the coil of the heat pump outside will build up dirt, grass clippings, leaves, etc., gradually restricting the airflow through that coil. The less air flowing through that coil means that in the winter time it is harder to heat your home, and in the summer time it is harder to cool your home. The same idea applies to the coil in the indoor unit of the heat pump system. A clean system runs more efficiently.

2. Low refrigerant. (Calling it “Freon” is common, but isn’t entirely accurate.) In a perfect world, your heat pump system will never lose any refrigerant. Contrary to commonly heard myths, an air conditioner or heat pump does not ‘use up’ refrigerant. It isn’t like a fuel that needs to be replenished, or not even like oil in a car that very gradually gets used up indirectly. Refrigerant in a central heating and cooling system is completely contained and will never run out… IF this were a perfect world. The truth is that for various reasons the refrigerant in your system may leak out. Since refrigerant is the medium used to move heat into or out of your house, then when the refrigerant level drops the system has to work harder to heat or cool your home. The bottom line is that more electricity is used to keep your family comfortable.

Now is the time to get a system check and tune-up on your central heating and cooling system, regardless of the type of system you have. The professional technicians working here at GAMA Air are standing by to visit your home and do a tune-up and safety check on your system. Give us a call at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to schedule a visit. You won’t be disappointed since we guarantee your satisfaction 100%.

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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