Why You’re Paying Way, WAY Too Much on Your Heating Bill

December 22, 2016

"OMG!!! This is my highest electric/gas bill ever!” 

It’s a common complaint we get round this time of year. And we feel you. We really do. 
 
If you feel like you’re paying too much on heating your Kansas City area home, you’re probably right. You are.
 
Here are 4 reasons why you’re paying too much and what you can do to keep heating bills low.

Reason 1: Keeping your thermostat on the same thermostat setting

Do you keep lights turned on in empty rooms? Probably not.

So why would you keep your thermostat on the same temperature setting when you’re away from home? 
 
If you’re not there to enjoy the heat, you should turn the thermostat down a bit. Otherwise, you’re just wasting money.
 
Do this: According the U.S Department of Energy, during winter you can save money by setting your thermostat like this:

  • Set the thermostat to 68°F while you're awake and at home.
  • Turn your thermostat back 10°–15° when you’re away from home for any period that lasts over 8 hours. You can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill—a savings of about 1% for each degree.

You can automate this whole temperature-setting process with a programmable thermostat.  Contact us if you’d like us to install a programmable thermostat in your home.

Reason 2: You have closed air vents in your home

Do you close air vents in your home, thinking it saves you money? Well, think again. 

Closing vents increases pressure in your ductwork, aggravating air leaks in supply ductwork. Which means you’re paying money to heat your attic. And why would you pay to heat an unconditioned space? 
 
You can see what we mean in this graphic:

Closedsupplyvents Furnace

Also, due to the higher pressure in the ductwork, the furnace blower struggles to circulate air, causing all sorts of trouble, including higher energy bills.

We go into more detail about this issue in this article: 3 Nasty Consequences of Closing Air Vents in Unused Rooms
 
Do this: Keep air vents open, even in rooms you’re not using.

Reason 3: Your air filter is dirty

When was the last time you checked your heating system’s air filter?
 
If you can’t remember, it’s time to check. A clogged filter is like a snotty nose. With a snotty nose, you can’t breath in well, and you’re not happy.
 
Similarly, a dirty filter acts like a barrier to return air, meaning the blower is struggling to “suck in” the cool air in your home to reheat it. So your heating system has to run longer and harder to heat the air in your home. And, of course, your heating system isn’t happy about all this extra work. 
 
We talk about the dirty details of dirty filters in this article: Dirty Air Filter: How It Will Kill Your Home’s Air Conditioner.
 
Do this: Check your filter and change it if it looks like this filter on the right:

Dirty Vs Clean Fiberglass Air Filter2

Reason 4: Your heat pump is running on auxiliary (AUX) mode

Do you own a heat pump? Has it been blowing really hot air lately? 

This sizzlin’ heat means that the heat pump is running in ‘auxiliary (AUX) mode. In this mode, your heat pump kicks on an all-electric heater coil (like the ones you see in toasters) to assist heating your home during  freezing weather.
 
If your heat pump never turned on this mode, your home would never get warm enough on those really cold Kansas City days.
 
However, running this secondary heating can cost you 4 to 6 times the cost of running the heat pump. Yikes! 
 
Do this: If the air coming out of the vents is very hot only sometimes, there’s not much you can do. That’s just how a heat pump works.
 
However, if your heat pump is blasting hot air all the time, check your thermostat to make sure it’s not set on ‘emergency heat.’ This setting forces the electric coil to be the main source of heating. Use this setting ONLY in case of an actual heating emergency, not just when it’s freezing cold outside.
 
But, let’s say your heat pump isn’t set on emergency heat and the heat pump’s AUX setting is constantly on. That’s bad. Call for service.  
 
Also, if your heat pump is covered in an inch or more of ice and isn’t defrosting, call for service.
 
Learn more in this article: Heat Pump Air Too Warm?
 
Santa Fe Air Conditioning and Heating serves Olathe, Overland Park, Lenexa, Gardner, and the Kansas City metro area. For more information, contact us online.