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Why is My Heating Bill so High?

December 12, 2014

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Around Christmas time, you probably want your hard-earned money to go toward presents and holiday festivities rather than heating bills. Just like August in Maryland is notorious for the highest air conditioning charges, December, January and February can empty your wallet when it comes to paying for the heat. Did you notice that your heating bill is higher this year than before? Do you feel like it shouldn’t cost you that much to heat the space you have with the low temperature you keep? There are many reasons for high heating bills, and here are a few things to check.

Missing or Deteriorating Insulation

The insulation inside your walls should last a long time unless you have rodent or water damage. However, some insulation like caulk or weather stripping used to plug holes and prevent drafts may deteriorate over time, causing the warm air inside your house to escape. Check the following areas to ensure they are properly insulated:

  • gaps around piping that goes through the walls
  • weatherstripping around doors and windows
  • attic access door
  • around and behind electrical outlets
  • AC vents, storm windows and fireplace damper closed

Also check the integrity of your home’s siding, as damaged siding can lead to major heat loss in winter.

Air Duct Leaks

Even if your home is well-insulated, you may still experience high heating bills if you have leaky air ducts. When you have an air duct leak, the heated air won’t reach the space you are trying to heat, which means the furnace/heat pump will keep running, pumping air into the voids around the ducts.

Malfunctioning HVAC Equipment

Sometimes, the problem could be caused by failing or improperly installed equipment, whether it’s a furnace, a heat pump or a boiler. Here are some of the issues that can cause your heating bill to double and even triple:

  • a faulty or mismatched thermostat
  • heat pump stuck in the defrost mode or set to emergency heat
  • poor flame adjustment on the furnace
  • failed heat pump condenser
  • wrong size heating unit for the space

Essentially, any failed component can impair the appliance’s heating efficiency. This is why timely HVAC preventive maintenance is crucial to keeping your heating bills low. Something as simple as a clogged filter can restrict the airflow, causing your furnace to work twice as hard.

Hike in Fuel Prices

If you heat your home with a wood-burning stove and collect firewood in your backyard, your fuel is virtually free. But when you have a gas or oil furnace, fuel accounts for a large portion of the operation cost. In case of natural gas, for example, prices tend to fluctuate depending on the demand. But remember that besides the gas itself, you are also paying for “gas delivery,” which can be a hefty charge depending on where you live. Compare fuel prices to last year’s to make sure your sudden hike in heating bills is not attributed to this.

Unless it’s been unusually cold, one of the above reasons should explain why your heating bill has increased compared to last year. Saving money on heating bills is a science, and even after you check all of the above and make sure your home is as air-tight as it could be, you still can’t expect to walk around in your shorts and tank without sending half of your paycheck to the utility company. If you wish to keep your home at 74F all winter, then high heating bills can’t be avoided.

Still struggling to understand why your heating bill is so high? Call your local Maryland HVAC contractor to conduct a top-to-bottom inspection. Our HVAC specialists at Cool Breeze have helped dozens of clients save money on home heating and cooling.

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