Author Topic: How do I fix my heating bill?  (Read 1335 times)

notmyhand

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How do I fix my heating bill?
« on: July 02, 2018, 06:33:12 PM »
I only have access to electric heat.  I live in SW Pennsylvania and leave my thermometer at around 68 in the winter when we are home and the bedrooms are still freezing.  We have baseboard heat in the rooms and we also have a heat pump (which obviously runs on emergency heat when it is freezing).  Even wearing hats indoors, my winter electricity bill runs 800-1200 each during December/January/February.  For comparison, in the spring and fall we run about 100 and about 150-200 with ac in the summer.  2800 square foot ranch home, brand new roof, new insulation in place, have had an energy audit.  Heat pump was installed in 2016.  What can I do to bring my heating bill down? 

Edited to add the suggestions of the energy audit -
They suggested a few things (top #5):
-More efficient heat pump saves us 20.1%. This is a brand new heat pump though (2016) so not sure about the cost/benefit here.
-Add insulation to attic saves us 4.2%. The roofer disagreed with the amount of insulation they said to add saying it would cause mold so we increased it slightly when we did the roof.
-Reduce leakage saves us 3.6%. We did as much as we could.
-New windows will save us 1.9%. We did not do this as we live in an A-frame. Replacing these windows will cost a fortune.
-Replace fridge will save us 0.9%. We have not done this yet.

Therefore, if we did their top five suggestions, my $1000 bill becomes an almost $700 bill which still seems crazy high for the amount of money I would have to spend upgrading things.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2018, 07:21:43 PM by notmyhand »

pecunia

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2018, 06:45:38 PM »
How much heat loss do you think may be from your windows?  Maybe, you can use some of that heat shrink film over the windows.

notmyhand

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2018, 06:58:19 PM »
According to my energy audit report, upgrading my windows will only save me 1.9% :(

kpd905

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2018, 07:14:25 PM »
Well what else does your audit say?

notmyhand

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2018, 07:21:26 PM »
Well what else does your audit say?

They suggested a few things (top #5):
-More efficient heat pump saves us 20.1%. This is a brand new heat pump though (2016) so not sure about the cost/benefit here.
-Add insulation to attic saves us 4.2%. The roofer disagreed with the amount of insulation they said to add saying it would cause mold so we increased it slightly when we did the roof.
-Reduce leakage saves us 3.6%. We did as much as we could.
-New windows will save us 1.9%. We did not do this as we live in an A-frame. Replacing these windows will cost a fortune.
-Replace fridge will save us 0.9%. We have not done this yet.

Therefore, if we did their top five suggestions, my $1000 bill becomes an almost $700 bill which still seems crazy high for the amount of money I would have to spend upgrading things.

kpd905

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2018, 07:28:02 PM »
You said you have it at 68 when you are home, what do you set it at when you are not home?

We typically have ours at 68 during the evening, drop it to 66 when we sleep, and 58 when we are gone from the house.  We have gas, and our highest gas + electric bill for a 1700 sq ft house in Wisconsin winter has been $240.

notmyhand

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2018, 07:31:16 PM »
You said you have it at 68 when you are home, what do you set it at when you are not home?

We typically have ours at 68 during the evening, drop it to 66 when we sleep, and 58 when we are gone from the house.  We have gas, and our highest gas + electric bill for a 1700 sq ft house in Wisconsin winter has been $240.

We have tried anywhere from 55-60 when we're not home.  We do not have gas.

Grogounet

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2018, 07:35:50 PM »
Do you drink beer?
If so:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLGZPti_n-M

I'm building one for myself now

kpd905

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2018, 07:41:04 PM »
I guess a 2800 sq ft ranch is pretty huge, so it would probably increase my $240 up to almost $400.  Then the rest of the difference might just be using electric vs gas.

Cranky

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 10:03:17 AM »
You say the bedrooms are "still freezing". Are they colder than 68 degrees? Why is that? It seems like if they are upstairs they should tend to be warmer in the winter.

Do any of your neighbors have natural gas heat? What are their bills like? It's hard to compare electric to gas, and figure out if your energy costs are just crazy high where you are, or if there's something strangely inefficient about your particular setup.

I'm in NE Ohio, so it's probably a little colder than where you are, and my winter gas bills would be around $200/month, though we have them equalized to spread it out all year.

I'd definitely use the shrink plastic on the windows and get some heavy thermal curtains.

pecunia

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2018, 10:45:24 AM »
Man if I lived in an A-frame, I'd get a wood stove.  It just seems right.  I used to live in a ranch and heated with wood.  The propane company eventually charged me rent for their tank because I burned no gas.

A used outdoor boiler may be another wood burning option.

Jon Bon

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2018, 12:23:18 PM »
All your options pretty much suck, sorry.

I would call the local utility company about getting gas piped to your street. That or have a big old propane tank installed. I mean even if this cost upwards of $5000-10000 the payback period would only be a few years.

When was your house built? How old are the windows? (dbl pained  I assume). It sounds like your house is already somewhat insulated, so your biggest return would be a better heating source. If you cant find a way to do some sort of gas I would get a Franklin stove.

Dave1442397

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2018, 12:32:14 PM »
Man if I lived in an A-frame, I'd get a wood stove.  It just seems right.  I used to live in a ranch and heated with wood.  The propane company eventually charged me rent for their tank because I burned no gas.

A used outdoor boiler may be another wood burning option.

+1 on that. If you want to get fancy, get an automated pellet heater. I'd say you could easily heat your house to a comfortable level for a hell of a lot less than you're spending now.

https://www.pellergy.com/fully-automated-wood-pellet-heating/

Prairie Stash

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2018, 01:21:50 PM »
Mold from insulation? you may need a second opinion. If you are getting condensation that causes mold, you have a problem with moisture from your house getting into the attic. That means you have air leaks that need fixing, right there is a major energy savings for not very much money.

You shouldn't be using heat from the house to dry out your attic.

Lulee

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2018, 05:02:01 PM »
I think Dave1442397 and pecunia are right about swapping to wood/wood pellets.  I personally find pellets are WAY easier to have around as you're less likely to accidentally bring in ants from the fuel storage site and the hardwood ones burn with far less creosote and ash than wood.  Pellet stoves are expensive so you need to be there a couple of years to get a return on that expense whereas you might be able to Craigslist a decent wood stove for far less.

Perhaps you can turn the thermostat down more at night and even a couple degrees lower for the rest of the time?  I pay for my heat in my apartment and it's expensive though nothing like what you pay.  It's still livable to drop the heat to 60 about an hour before bed because I have a heated mattress pad which I turn on a couple of hours ahead of bed time which heats through the mattress and three blankets/throws on top so I don't need it from there on out unless I'm sick.  During the day, I try to keep it between 64 and 66.  Those changes made a HUGE dent in the oil bills (maybe as much as a third) and there's never been any trouble with frozen pipes, not even during our last almighty miserable winter.

drudgep

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2018, 06:08:12 PM »
Jeez, and I think my $140 in the winter- similar climate is bad. I guess there can be benefits to having 1000 sq ft.

What about insulation curtains? Putting plastic over the windows from the inside? Cut down on the draft.

Also I would also second the pellet stove- not from experience, but if I were in your shoes, I would consider it too

teen persuasion

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2018, 07:30:17 PM »
I only have access to electric heat.  I live in SW Pennsylvania and leave my thermometer at around 68 in the winter when we are home and the bedrooms are still freezing.  We have baseboard heat in the rooms and we also have a heat pump (which obviously runs on emergency heat when it is freezing).  Even wearing hats indoors, my winter electricity bill runs 800-1200 each during December/January/February.  For comparison, in the spring and fall we run about 100 and about 150-200 with ac in the summer.  2800 square foot ranch home, brand new roof, new insulation in place, have had an energy audit.  Heat pump was installed in 2016.  What can I do to bring my heating bill down? 

Edited to add the suggestions of the energy audit -
They suggested a few things (top #5):
-More efficient heat pump saves us 20.1%. This is a brand new heat pump though (2016) so not sure about the cost/benefit here.
-Add insulation to attic saves us 4.2%. The roofer disagreed with the amount of insulation they said to add saying it would cause mold so we increased it slightly when we did the roof.
-Reduce leakage saves us 3.6%. We did as much as we could.
-New windows will save us 1.9%. We did not do this as we live in an A-frame. Replacing these windows will cost a fortune.
-Replace fridge will save us 0.9%. We have not done this yet.

Therefore, if we did their top five suggestions, my $1000 bill becomes an almost $700 bill which still seems crazy high for the amount of money I would have to spend upgrading things.

I have lots of questions.

How cold do you regularly get in the winter? I'm in WNY, and we'd never use a heat pump here.  Emergency heating strips should not be regularly needed.

Heat pump was installed in 2016 - what kind of heating did you have before?  We don't have NG down our road, so our choices are oil or propane.  Electric heating is crazy expensive.

I have never lived with a heat pump, but I've heard that if you do have a heat pump, you do NOT want to turn the temps up and down to save energy, its counter productive.  The heat pump is best used to keep a steady temp all the time; it uses more energy to try to raise the temp when you come home or get up in the morning.  Only heating the house when you are there is better for other types of heating systems like our oil fired boiler with hydronic baseboards, or a gas forced air furnace.

How do you heat domestic water?  If it is also electric, that's another thing boosting your electric bill, and more so in the winter when the water temp has to be raised more degrees (from ambient).  Our water heater is piggybacked on our boiler; previously it was propane.

Jon Bon

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Re: How do I fix my heating bill?
« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2018, 06:33:46 AM »


I have never lived with a heat pump, but I've heard that if you do have a heat pump, you do NOT want to turn the temps up and down to save energy, its counter productive.  The heat pump is best used to keep a steady temp all the time; it uses more energy to try to raise the temp when you come home or get up in the morning.  Only heating the house when you are there is better for other types of heating systems like our oil fired boiler with hydronic baseboards, or a gas forced air furnace.


Yes there was another thread about HVAC efficiency that came up. Sorry I forgot to mention this but basically heat pumps can be very stupid.

So what happens is you turn your heat down at night to 60 degrees, at 6am in the morning your program your thermostat to go back up to 70 degrees, this is normally a very good idea. But in some thermostat/heat-pump combos it sees the 10 degree difference in the setting and the house and triggers the emergency heat to push it up those 10 degrees.

Emergency heat is traditional resistance heat, aka a giant and super expensive whole house space heater. This is the most expensive way possible to heat your home. So you have a large temp gap that is being filled by the most expensive type of heat at the coldest part of the day.

It sounds like there is a very good chance this is happening here. You need to investigate if you have this happening, and if you do a replace the thermostat might just do the trick. I have also heard if you step the increase in temp it can alleviate the problem.

So at 6am instead of going to 70 degrees it goes to 62.
6:30 goes to 64
7 @ 66
etc
etc