Why Is My Electricity Bill So High?
When it comes to high electricity bills, we automatically start jumping to conclusions. It's in our D.N.A. so to speak. The truth is, there can be many different reasons why your wallet is being drained!
Too many people today throw money at expensive home improvements in an attempt to combat a high electricity bill, only to find that thousands of dollars were wasted on improvements that had little to no effect on the power bill.
This thought process is the same as a person having stomach pain going online to find the cure. We all know someone that does this and it rarely works out in their favor.
As a wise person knows you should see a doctor. Tests are performed to determine the exact cause of the pain, then a course of treatment is prescribed to eliminate the problem.
That is the exact same way you should confront the problem of a high electricity bill!
What Is A Typical Homes Energy Usage?
Well if you're really interested in getting to the bottom of things, then lets begin.
This pie chart (Average Home Energy Usage) shows what the average Floridian household uses in energy (Plus or minus
3-5%). As you can see, your cooling & heating system, water heater, and pool pump (if you own a pool) play a major role in the consumption of electricity. Just those three items add up to almost 75% of your overall usage! Well that's huge by any standard.
So getting a new cooling & heating system replaced solves most of my problems? Not so fast.
Unfortunately it's a bit more complex than most cooling and heating companies want you to think.
With the next set of charts we'll begin to break this whole mess down into more simple terms, so you can understand the relationships between your home (home meaning the structure itself), the air ductwork (located in your attic), and finally the cooling & heating equipment. We will also be covering how to deal with the other two main factors that we mentioned earlier (water heaters & pool pumps).
Am I Really Getting The Full Efficiency
Out Of My Cooling & Heating System?
Lets explain the Cooling & Heating Delivered Loss pie chart.
In many cases your cooling & heating system only delivers 73% of its efficiency to your home. The chart shows that in a typical home 27% of the efficiency is lost. That's quite a lot when you have to pay the electric bill.
15% of the loss is due to the air ducts in the attic leaking conditioned air to the outside. This happens because the ducts are not sealed where they are connected together. In some cases rodents will chew holes in the duct to make a home.
3% loss on improper airflow. This is so common of a problem that we see out there. Lets say that your home needs 3 tons of air conditioning (every ton of air conditioning is the equivalent of 12,000 BTU's (British Thermal Unit)) to properly cool your home. For every ton of cooling, you need to move 400 cubic feet of air for the system to work properly. If you have a 3 ton unit you will need to move 1,200 cubic feet of air. Believe it or not, in most cases the ducts are too small, so you are paying the electric company for 3 tons of cooling but maybe only getting 2 tons of the cooling delivered.
4% is the final issue that we are facing here. You'd be surprised to learn that studies have been completed on this subject and results have found that 70% of the cooling and heating systems that were tested had the incorrect amount of refrigerant in them causing at least a 4% drop in efficiency!
When you add all of this up you are dealing with the 27% drop in efficiency that we mentioned earlier. This is like having a car that is supposed to get 20 miles to the gallon but in reality it is operating at under 15 miles to the gallon.
5% is lost simply because the original cooling & heating company has installed the wrong size equipment! By law they are supposed to complete what is called a load calculation. Less than 10% of the contractors perform this test. So the homeowner ends up losing out and paying for higher electricity bills.
How Does The Structure Of My Home
Play A Role In All Of This?
The Cooling Load Breakdown pie chart represents why your cooling and heating system needs to turn on and run in the first place. Let me explain. When the outside temperature becomes hotter or colder than the inside, the structure of your home begins a battle to maintain the indoor temperature at a comfortable level. The structure is your defense from the outdoor temperature and humidity levels. Each of the sections in the pie chart contribute to the need for your system to turn on and maintain the indoor temperature.
Windows 30% Loss: When the sun rises, it begins to deliver what is called radiant heat gain that passes through the glass on your windows. This will cause the home to heat up making your air conditioner turn on more often in the summertime.
Air Infiltration 16% Loss: Air infiltration means how many times during the day your home exchanges its air with the outside world. The larger the percent, the more your system will operate to heat or cool this new air. This is caused by things like cracks and gaps in the home.
Walls 6% Loss: The material that your walls are made of and the type of insulation inside those walls play a role on energy efficiency. Remember, the better the material and insulation, the less your system will need to operate to maintain the indoor temperature.
Roof 20% Loss: In the summertime the roof will play a major role in heat gain. Once again, as the sun beats down on the roof, radiant heat penetrates the roof itself and begins to heat up your attic. The underside of the roof continues the radiant heat gain into the insulation on the attic floor. On average your attic will see temperatures as high as 130 degrees! From the moment this occurs, it's just a matter of time before that heat makes it's way through the insulation and begins to heat up your drywall ceiling in the home. This is called conductive heat. Now your ceiling has just become a large radiator, once again causing the air conditioner to operate.
Duct Heat Gain 12% Loss: Your duct work in the attic has to deal with extreme temperatures in both the summer and in the winter months. In Florida, it is recommended to have at least an R value of 30 for insulation. An R value is a measure of thermal resistance for materials. Air duct work in attics only have an R value of 6 in 99% of all cases. Yes that's right R-6! Any conditioned air that you pay the electricity company to make has no other choice but to travel through this poorly insulated duct system.
Appliances 16% Loss: Pretty much all of your appliances play a role in heat gain. They generate heat in order to operate and this heat has to be removed from the home during the hot summer days. As your appliances and electronics operate, the central air conditioner has to turn on and remove the heat that they generate.
Electric Water Heaters & Pool Pumps
Lets take some time now to cover two very important energy hogs of a typical home. These two items are overlooked so many times when trying to figure out why an electricity bill is so high.
Electric Water Heaters: An electric water heater works like this; When you need hot water, little thermostats that measure the water temperature inside your tank send a signal to two very large electric heating elements. In a lot of cases we are talking about 2,000 to 3,000 watts of power! WOW! This will play a major role on the electricity bill. They maybe the cheapest to install but will cost you the most to operate in the long run.
Pool Pumps: The pool pump that's been running in your backyard for years has never let you down. Are you so sure of that? It may still be operating, but did you know that a standard 1.5 horse power pool pump will eat roughly $1,062.00 a year in electricity! Now that hurt's.
Just because it is still operating doesn't mean you should keep the old energy hog. It goes with that old saying "Tripping over the $5.00 to get to the $1.00).
Electric Usage Summary!
So you've now graduated from the School of PURGE on electricity consumption. Congratulations!
This is why so many companies today try to sell you the silver bullet cure for your electric bill, but now you know that your home is just as complex as a human body, and no one product is going to cure your high electric bill.
So I guess now you're thinking "Where do I go from here? How do I get my home tested and scanned?"
This is where PURGE comes in to help you.
In the final section of this page we will explain the methods and equipment used to properly diagnose your electric usage problems and put together a treatment plan that cures this once and for all!
How Does PURGE Perform The Tests And Scans?
There are many steps in the process of testing and scanning.
PURGE technical consultants begin by installing a specialized fan system into one of your exterior doors.
The home is then put under a negative pressure by drawing the indoor air to the outside. This will cause outdoor air to be pulled into your home through every crack and crevice it has.
At this point, specialized non-toxic smoke testing equipment is used to determine all of the locations that leak in the home.
As outside air is pulled in to the home, the smoke tester shows every location that needs to be sealed. This part of the testing helps explain how the home has so many air exchanges per day.
This pertains to the air infiltration section discussed above.
Photo above is of an average bedroom
Thermal imaging is one of the most important scans you can have completed.
With thermal scans, PURGE is able to identify the sections of the home that not only lack insulation, but also shows any air leakage in and out of the home.
This scan helps determine how much, and what kind of insulation is needed to reduce the overall run time of your cooling and heating system.
As we learned earlier, tightening up the structure and adding the correct amount of insulation reduces your electric bill.
The areas of concern that have been found in your home from the thermal imaging reader is documented for future corrections.
Thermal image of the same bedroom
While using state of the art testing equipment, PURGE is able to determine if your air ducts are leaking conditioned air into your attic.
This has a huge impact on two main factors.
The first is, if your air ducts are blowing conditioned air into the attic, then that means your home is operating under a negative pressure (air is being drawn away from the conditioned spaces). This will increase the amount of air coming into your home through cracks, causing your electricity bill to increase.
The second factor is that you are paying the electricity company to produce conditioned air that never makes it into your home.
PURGE will perform an evaluation to determine if your heating and cooling system is operating properly.
A load calculation will be performed to determined if the cooling and heating system is the correct size for the home.
An evaluation is also completed to determine if the air duct system is the correct size for your home, as well as the correct size for the existing cooling and heating system.
Finally, PURGE will complete an evaluation on the existing water heater and pool pump (if a pump is on location).
This evaluation will determine the age and overall efficiency of the equipment.
Recommendations will be given based on the findings.
So Now It's All Up To You?
If you are really ready to get to the bottom of your high electricity bills, then the time is now!
Click on the 'Contact Us' button and lets get you moving in the right direction!