Imagine this: it’s wintertime, and the weather is cold. As a result, you’re bound to be turning up your heating. However, when you get your energy bill you’re in shock. You didn’t have your heating on that much, did you? Maybe not, but then again, perhaps your extensive electric bill is showing an even bigger problem.
How do all your utilities work together?
Most of the energy that you are paying for goes into the home to provide for three main utilities: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Two out of three tend to rely on electricity, whilst one, the heating system, tends to be powered by either gas or electricity or both. Collectively, these three utilities are known as the HVAC system, and are designed to keep you comfortable throughout the winter months, and cooler during the summer weather. Your HVAC is almost symbiotic in the way that each appliance works together.
In simple terms, the way they work is this: the furnace heats and releases hot water, which travels along pipes to radiators within the home. These radiators heat the air in the home, with the vents keeping the air circulated (bringing in fresh from outdoors, and ejecting traces of carbon monoxide wastage). The air conditioner units keep the air clean and also dry, filtering out any moisture and ensuring the temperature remains nominal.
This is why it’s important to stay on top of maintaining your utilities and their appliances. If you get stuck doing so or want to give them an upgrade ready in time for next winter, then call Berkeley Heating and Air Conditioning for advice on furnace service and a quote.
The thermostat is turned all the way up, so why are you still cold?
However, this way that your HVAC system works together can also cause problems that increase your utility bills. Should one component fail, then the others will almost overcompensate to put it right, (and use more energy in doing so). However, these problems are often not noticed until you see that the energy cost is so much higher than it’s supposed to be. Nevertheless, there are clues that point to there being an issue, you just have to know where to look.
The first sign is that you’re feeling cold, but the thermostat is turned up too high. Ordinarily, you might put that down to the airflow in the home, or the fact that the weather is so cold. If you have your heating system on and the thermostat is turned up, yet you can still see your breath, then put on some extra layers and turn the HVAC off for now.
Other clues include the appliances appearing to be noisier than they usually are. Those sounds that you’re hearing are signs that something is not quite right, as they are working so much harder but having much less of an effect. The louder the noise, the higher the energy usage, and if you are still getting lower temperatures then clearly the energy consumption is way too high as well.
Why turn the HVAC system off? It’s freezing!
The heating within the home starts and ends with the furnace. Hot water is released from the boiler, goes through the home, and then returns to it on a constant cycle of pipes and plumbing. If your bill is much higher than normal, then this is a good starting point to see if there are any problems. The issue may not be the boiler, but it will certainly be adding to that bill.
Remember that symbiotic relationship? Consider this: your AC is broken or powered down for the winter and there is a leak in one of the pipes, meaning hot water is falling out of the central heating system. The moisture is not being removed from the air, and now your heating is working much harder to warm up both the air and the water in the air. This is why more energy is being used, and how you end up with humidity in the home. Aside from unsightly mold, and a danger to electronics, humidity at any point of the year is a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. However, dry indoor air can also be harmful in wintertime, so having a little moisture in it is not something that should be persuaded against. Consider adding a heat pump to your air conditioner unit, and keep warm air that isn’t too dry circulated. Until then, use the HVAC system less until a professional has had a look at it and made it safe.
If the leak is from the boiler and the vent is broken/blocked then this is even more serious, as odorless and lethal carbon monoxide is building up. Again, turn the HVAC off, and wait until a professional has inspected it. Your health is more important than temporary discomfort, despite the colder temperatures.