Author Topic: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?  (Read 3997 times)

nirvines88

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High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« on: February 15, 2015, 08:31:52 AM »
I recently bought a home and now have 2 months of energy bills to look at.  On the bright side, I did see a decent decrease from month 1 to 2 after being more proactive with my energy habits (many of which were gleaned from various energy threads on MMM), but I'm not satisfied with an $80 electric bill...  Both bills are much higher than expected, since I consider myself a relatively light energy user...

Month 1: $97 (average outside temperature of 41 degrees; used 887 kWh in 28 days, or 32 kWh per day)
Month 2: $81 (average temperature of 41 degrees; used 725 kWh in 29 days, or 25 kWh per day)

*For an apples to apples comparison, I included only the cost of electricity.  All taxes, service charges, and "energy conservation" credits have been removed from the 2 months of totals above. 

Some facts about the house and energy usage:
-I live alone in a 1300 square foot single story house.
-It uses electric for everything (oven range, water, heat, etc.). 
-It has a heat pump.  During month 1, I kept it set at 63 degrees.  During month 2, I kept it at 58-60 degrees (brrr!).  I make sure the aux heat doesn't come on.
-The water heater is a half tank set at 120 degrees.  I take 10 minute showers everyday.
-I run the washer, dryer, and dishwasher 1 time each per week.
-It has been insulated below the floors and in the attic.
-I created an insulated hatch cover so that heat wouldn't escape as easily through my attic stairs access. 
-Most of the doors have storm doors.
-Windows are new and all have blinds (open in day for sun, close at night).
-I have added additional weatherstripping to the doors. 
-I keep very few items plugged in (2 lamps, an alarm clock, an LED TV, a Roku, a microwave, and other appliances; everything else is unplugged when not in use).
-All lights are LED or CFL.

Any obvious, or not so obvious, energy usage culprits I have overlooked?  Any tips to continue reducing usage?  Or should I just chalk it up to my area (NC) having a cold winter the last couple of months?  I know a heat pump is not ideal for cold temperatures and has been doing quite a bit of work even to keep my house a balmy 60 degrees... Should I perhaps call my energy company and ask them to check the meter or ask what I'm doing wrong?




Greg

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2015, 11:47:48 AM »
Sure seems like you've done what you can.  Are there areas of your home you can close off and not use/heat? 

Also, consider a timer for your water heater, so that instead of keeping the water hot while you're gone or asleep, it turns on long enough before you need it to get hot.  And a insulation blanket for it. 

For comparison, our home is 1750 sq. ft. and we used 1,021 kWh in the past 2 months, family of 3.  Big differences are likely propane range, radiant floor heat source, woodstove.

Rural

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2015, 12:01:54 PM »
Blinds on the windows won't do much to limit heat loss; for that you really need heavy drapes.


But it depends on the windows. Are they double pane?


To answer your questions of why it's costing so much more than you expected, look into the windows and the amount of insulation. These things may not be worth changing, though.


You have checked the filter on the heat system, right?

colganc

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2015, 12:31:12 PM »
I doubt you have much to reduce unless you are ready to start spending thousands on items that won't pay back, but will lower the monthly consimption.  With all of your stuff on electric that is a very low usage rate in my mind.

Insulating your crawlspace, sealing air gaps in your attic, increasing insulation in your attic, changing can lights to normal flush mounts, leaving south facing windows blinds open during the day, installing a properly insulated and energy efficient door, etc.  Those are the kinds of thingd I've researched I would need to do to reduce my emergy consumption in a meaningful way.

For refernce my house is about 200sq ft more.  Prior to solar panels my combined electricity and natural gas bill ex-taxes and hookup costs came in around $110.  Seeing as your house is on all electric appliances and your costs are below mine, from my perspective you have an extremely low bill.

Dan_at_Home

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2015, 04:45:04 PM »
Install some indoor clothes lines to dry clothes without using the dryer.  The dryer consumes a lot of electricity. 

Also, revisit the attic.  It is nice that you insulated the attic door, but unless you have R-40 or higher, there is always room for improvement in the attic.  This is one of the biggest sources of heat loss.  If you are still not sure, have an energy audit done by a pro, it is well worth the money (usually this is subsidized by the electric company of government, mine only cost $100 total), be there to walk through the house with the auditor and ask plenty of questions, and ask them to identify areas of weakness in the insulation and how to fit it.


nirvines88

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 04:03:22 AM »
Sure seems like you've done what you can.  Are there areas of your home you can close off and not use/heat? 

Also, consider a timer for your water heater, so that instead of keeping the water hot while you're gone or asleep, it turns on long enough before you need it to get hot.  And a insulation blanket for it. 


I do close off the vents and doors to rooms that I don't use as often.  I'll look into the timer thing. I thought about getting an insulation blanket for my water heater, but I opened it up and saw that it was already heavily insulated.  Still worth it to buy a blanket? 


But it depends on the windows. Are they double pane?

You have checked the filter on the heat system, right?

I believe the windows are double pane as they are new (previous owners upgraded them), but I'm not positive. 

Do you mean the air filter inside my house that you change monthly or so?  If so, yes.  If you are referring to some kind of filter on the actual outside unit that I'm unaware of, then no, I haven't checked it.

Install some indoor clothes lines to dry clothes without using the dryer.  The dryer consumes a lot of electricity. 

Also, revisit the attic.  It is nice that you insulated the attic door, but unless you have R-40 or higher, there is always room for improvement in the attic.  This is one of the biggest sources of heat loss.  If you are still not sure, have an energy audit done by a pro, it is well worth the money (usually this is subsidized by the electric company of government, mine only cost $100 total), be there to walk through the house with the auditor and ask plenty of questions, and ask them to identify areas of weakness in the insulation and how to fit it.



I've thought about creating an indoor drying line and perhaps I should finally bite the bullet and do it.  What does it actually cost per load of drying though?  50 cents or so?  It would take 15-20 minutes to hang up and take down all of my clothes.  If this is the case, it's probably worth buying the 15 minutes back for 50 cents.

I'll have to see if my utility company offers any similar credits.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2015, 05:16:24 AM »
How old is your water heater, and is gas available? My water heater is old, so I'm getting it replaced with gas (I already have gas heat) because the payback time is under 3 years by my math.

Also, is the fan on your heat running constantly, or only when the heat is on? How old is your house; might your ducts be gross?

aj_yooper

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2015, 05:43:27 AM »
An energy audit through power utility is a very good idea.

Look for drafts in your house and solve them when you can, like doors, under the sinks, by water heater and furnace.  Make sure all windows are tightly closed.  Window locks?  Insulate the switch and outlets using foam strips.   Timer on the water heater could work very well for you.  Use a power switch to turn off all electronics, including any wireless.

I wonder about insulation under the floors in a crawl space.  Best practices now recommend insulating the walls, not the floors, and avoiding insulation bats entirely in the crawl due to air quality issues.  Attic insulation works well if your crawl space has vapor barrier and is insulated.

I think you are smartly looking at your electric costs.  Good job!

KD

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2015, 06:10:32 AM »
Do you have an attached garage?  Is the door out to it insulated?  Is the garage door itself insulated???  We have an all electric house including the heat pump.  I am NOT happy w/our electric bill. 

nirvines88

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Re: High Energy Bills in New Home - Tips to Fix?
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2015, 06:28:46 PM »
I'll look into the age of the water heater but I think it is relatively new. 

I do have an attached garage.  I doubt the door connected it to the kitchen is insulated.  The storm door is a weird half screen half glass deal, so it might be worth it to make sure it's properly sealed and add a glass panel to where there is now just screen to increase insulation.  The garage door itself is definitely not insulated. 

I am in contact with a local energy efficiency company for 2 reasons: 1) For a "free energy analysis" to see if I can improve anything (after which I'm sure they'll pitch their services) 2) To see if my house is a viable candidate for solar panels and see payoff schedules for such technology.

Thanks for the help...I'll keep y'all posted.