What Causes high Electric Bills? | Dick Kearsley Service Center
Utility bills come every month almost with same certainty as the sun rising each morning. Most homeowners can expect their electricity bills to remain relatively constant from one month to the next. However, what if your status quo is higher than it should be? When you find out a neighbor in a comparable home has much lower bills, you might wonder why.
Electricity bills can increase for a number of reasons, and some of the biggest draws of power are your HVAC system and your appliances. Problems with these mean higher bills, and the bills will stay high until you get the trouble addressed.
Here are some common reasons why your HVAC system and your appliances could be causing the drain on your wallet.
One of the most common reasons why your power bill is so high is because your appliances and system components are simply older. Of course, purchasing a new set of appliances is expensive, so many people try to get as much use out of older ones as possible.
But modern appliances that are Energy Star approved could save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the year. This estimate is true for things like your washer and dryer, your dishwasher, your fridge, and your oven, but it also applies to your electric furnace and your air conditioning compressor.
For example, new air conditioners have more effective fan blade designs. They can move and cool more air with less power. A 20-year-old compressor sucks up vast amounts of energy, using as much as 6,000 watts per hour of cooling. A modern compressor, on the other hand, might use less than a third of that amount of electricity to produce superior cooling.
Similarly, a high-efficiency clothes dryer, which accounts for a huge amount of energy consumption for most homes, must be 20 percent more efficient than a normal dryer with today's technology. Compared to less advanced tech from years gone by, the efficiency comparison becomes even more drastic.
Water Heater Waste
Electric water heaters can also be the source of persistently high bills. If gas is available in your area, it's worth looking into whether or not you can switch to a heater that uses this less expensive fuel. If not, you can increase savings by:
- Replacing a little-used tank heater for a tankless water heater. These are better for small families or couples who use just a little hot water for a shower or a load of dishes. Having an entire tank in reserve burns up energy, and most of it is wasted if you don't use much.
- Having your tank insulated. This step helps to decrease energy loss from an already heated tank of water.
- Lowering the thermostat. Most people can get along lowering the temperature on their water heaters without any adverse effects on comfort. You can also increase savings by decreasing the temperature when you leave for the weekend or even just for a day away from home.
Water heaters will start to show signs of age. They may have trouble keeping pressure or they may start to collect deposits, which affect how efficient the heater is. Have a professional look at the heater for any signs that it might be the culprit of your high electricity bills.
Lack of Maintenance
A huge factor that affects energy use is basic maintenance, and many people simply aren't aware of it. Almost every appliance becomes less efficient if you aren't using it correctly.
For example, your air conditioner works less effectively if the filters are not changed. Furnaces also have filters that need to be changed every few months, but many people simply forget or choose not to do it.
Refrigerators, even those that have Energy Star ratings, will eat up electricity if they have dusty, grimy coils. Cleaning these coils takes just a few minutes, but a thick layer of dust and grime will make your fridge work harder to cool your food. Cleaning the fans and the freezer vents can also help prevent efficiency troubles.
You can also use simple savings tricks, like not using the heated-dry setting of your dishwasher or by buying a dishwasher that automatically opens at the end of the cycle to let the dishes air dry. Your fridge will work best if it not overcrowded and packed with items. These are basic savings tricks, but they can help reduce your bills and extend the overall life of your appliances.
Finally, poor installation or outfitting can be a reason why your electrical bills are steadily high. For example, an air conditioner that is too small for the house will run constantly to try to maintain the temperature set by the thermostat, but a small unit simply cannot cool a space too large. The result is unreasonably high energy costs for substandard cooling.
For more information on appliance, furnace, or air conditioning repair, contact us at Dick Kearsley Service Center.