Why Is My Bill So High?!

“Summer, where is thy sting? Thy heat? Stifling humidity? Hast thou forsaken us for fairer shores? Must we endure these tepid days until autumn holds sway?” Okay, so it is not Shakespeare but fear not, summer will arrive, bringing the heat and humidity we all know and love. So, is your cooling system ready?

Regardless of how it seems, we will eventually see hot and sticky weather and the first step in preparing is to make sure your cooling system is up to the task. So,

  • Refrigerant level at proper charge?
  • New, clean filters in place?
  • Outside equipment clean and free of debris?
  • Plenty of ice tea and lemonade on hand for internal temperature control?

Answering no to any of these questions means you should:

  1. all in an expert or,
  2. go to the store (for more tea and lemonade!)

How about your temperature control strategy? Is it ready for the season ahead? On especially hot and humid days, you are making your system work harder if you leave the thermostat at your normal temperature. Here’s a good analogy. When you drive your car in cooler weather, it has no problem keeping up with the heat produced by the engine. The radiator is awash in cooler outside air that whisks away the heat. On summer days, the hotter, more humid air has less ability to absorb heat and the engine runs hotter.

Your air conditioning system works in a similar fashion. The outside coil is, in essence, a radiator where the heat removed from the house is discharged to outside air. Sure, refrigerant makes the process significantly more efficient than a car radiator but the fact remains that when the outside air is hot, the system has less chance to dissipate its heat into the surrounding air. Now the system runs more to get rid of the heat. As a result, your energy use goes up along with your electric bill.

Here’s another way to look at it. If you have your thermostat set at 76o and the outdoor temperature is 85o, your cooling system only has to compensate for a 9o difference. But, when the outdoor temperature goes higher, say 99o, now your system really labors to overcome that 23ogap.

There are solutions that are simple to implement and which will help you save money while staying comfortable. Draw the blinds on the sunny side of the house and after about 10 AM, increase your thermostat 2 – 3 degrees above your normal setting. Avoid opening and closing outside doors as much as possible so that the cool air stays where it belongs, inside. Don’t you tell the kids not to leave the refrigerator door open? Same idea here. Make sure ceiling fans in occupied rooms and in the room with the thermostat are running, blowing down to circulate the air. This will reduce the workload for your system and increase the occupant comfort. Why use the fan in the room with the thermostat? To make it think it is cool enough that it doesn’t have to run. Even a smart thermostat will think it is cool. Besides, a ceiling fan uses a lot less electricity than a central air conditioner.

With these few simple steps, you can set up your home to stay comfortable during the heat of summer and protect your budget from higher than necessary bills at the same time. Now that you are ready, get out there and enjoy the summer! Check with your cooperative today for more energy saving advice.