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Author Topic: Electric bills are high with this cold  (Read 990 times)

Offline clayton95

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Electric bills are high with this cold
« on: January 10, 2017, 04:24:16 PM »
We recently moved into a house with a heat pump for heat in the Tri-Cities area. This is our first time on a heat pump. We do not have natural gas but it is available. Our electric bill for last month was $450. We are strongly considering gas heat for next year. I know that it has been colder than normal but this still seems like a lot. Any one else seeing high bills?

It is an older house and heat pump. The house is well insulated but has only 2x4 walls.

I understand how the system works. I studied it in school for mechanical engineering.

Offline Bucks2Ducks

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2017, 04:29:34 PM »
Dang 450$, that's crazy. I love gas heat, I was mad about 80$ last month on the west side. Not to mention electric stoves are not up to par. How much would it cost to get hooked up to natural gas?
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Offline baker5150

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 04:33:03 PM »
Has it been maintained recently?
Any idea of the age?

If you don't have Natural gas currently at the home, the cost of having service added can be a lot, depends on a few variables.
Most newer heat pumps are cheaper to operate than gas, even at colder temps, but your balance point needs to be accurately calculated.

My balance Point is 5 degrees based on cost of operation, but I run it at 20 degrees for comfort reasons.  This is a 20 SEER heat pump with 97% efficient natural gas furnace.

I would have a maintenance done on it and verify system performance.  Check balance points for auxillary heat and verify all stages of auxillary heat are operational. 

If your spending $450 a month, the savings on a new system could pay it's own financing payment during the winter months, and possibly the hot summer months.  Certainly worth a look.

Offline clayton95

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 04:35:52 PM »
Getting gas hooked up is free. The furnace is the big cost. Not sure but around $10,000 for total new system. We would have to rework a lot of the ducting and build a room for the furnace because the current furnace is just in the unfinished basement now.

Offline clayton95

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 04:38:32 PM »
We just had the furnace serviced and checked when we moved in last month. They said that everything was fine.

The current system is about 12 years old.

20 SEER is a very efficient heat pump.

Offline baker5150

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 04:41:52 PM »
Getting gas hooked up is free. The furnace is the big cost. Not sure but around $10,000 for total new system. We would have to rework a lot of the ducting and build a room for the furnace because the current furnace is just in the unfinished basement now.

Free?
Thru PSE?  not sure of provider over there.

Cascade will charge you if they have to gopher it. 
Living on the main line side of the street has it's benefits.



Offline baker5150

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 04:44:47 PM »
We just had the furnace serviced and checked when we moved in last month. They said that everything was fine.

The current system is about 12 years old.

20 SEER is a very efficient heat pump.


Check your balance point between heat pump and auxillary heat.  Make sure it isn't too high.  Should be between 30 and 40 if I had to guess at it.

I manage an HVAC company, so let me know if you any questions.

Offline 2labs

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 04:54:28 PM »
Just got a Diakin mini split installed!.. Freakin awesome! Love it!
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Offline Reidus

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2017, 04:59:18 PM »
Sounds like you could use some insulation upgrades too. There's probably some rebates of some sort available. Maybe add some insulation in attic and crawl space?  I have gas furnace/water heater/oven and my gas bill is rarely over $100 in the winter and more like $12 in the summer. Approx 1500sq-ft house.

Offline Reidus

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2017, 05:01:00 PM »
Do you have electric heaters installed in addition to the heat pump? $450 to run a heat pump is crazy. You must have some serious insulation issues.

Offline Fishstiq

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2017, 05:04:01 PM »
Just an idea here, but you said you just moved it.....  Are you sure you're not being stuck with a previous balance that accumulated while the house was unoccupied or from a previous owner?  I've seen that happen....
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Offline clayton95

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2017, 05:20:42 PM »
Cascade Natural Gas over here and I already talked with them. Gas connection is free. It runs down our street.

I put in a call to Benton PUD to discuss. We had one other previous billing and it seemed high but was only for a few days.

Insulation is fine , 15" of blow-in in the attic, I have seen it myself during the home inspection. No crawlspace, we have a partial basement and a slab.

I will check the set point for auxillary heat.


Offline Mark_436

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2017, 08:51:00 PM »
Cascade Natural Gas over here and I already talked with them. Gas connection is free. It runs down our street.

I put in a call to Benton PUD to discuss. We had one other previous billing and it seemed high but was only for a few days.

Insulation is fine , 15" of blow-in in the attic, I have seen it myself during the home inspection. No crawlspace, we have a partial basement and a slab.

I will check the set point for auxillary heat.
  You'll have to make the decision based on how long you intend to stay in the house. High efficiency gas heat with a heat pump will definitely pay for itself in lower bills, and would probably make a modest increase in equity. If you're already looking at $10k, I'd recommend investigating geo-thermal heat pumps. Gets rid of the auxiliary system all together.

Offline Zardoz

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2017, 09:20:53 PM »
Do you have electric heaters installed in addition to the heat pump? $450 to run a heat pump is crazy. You must have some serious insulation issues.

 :yeah:  I had an older house (2400 sq.ft) and the original heat pump and we never crossed the $200.00 mark.

Offline JODakota

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2017, 09:31:57 PM »
 :yeah: same here old house new heat pumps. Heat bill was 250. The heat pumps in the cold like that need a little assistance. Get a space heater to help them out. Should also reduce run time.
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Offline DaveMonti

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2017, 09:38:49 PM »
For those that don't understand, Clayton's heat pump has electric resistance heat as the auxiliary heat source, not natural gas.  Depending on the design of the heat pump, all heat may be supplied by the electric resistance heat when the temp falls below a certain point, which is like having only electric resistance heat for the whole house.  $450 is not that unreasonable for a cold month.

I work in energy efficiency for a utility.  Check to see if your utility has a duct sealing program.  That could save a lot and they may pick up a lot of the cost.  There may also be "fuel conversion" incentives to help with a new gas heat system if you are heating with electric. 

Offline h2ofowlr

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2017, 09:40:08 PM »
One of my friends post a $520 bill as they have been using there ceiling heat.  A lot of money as that bill comes after the fact.
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Offline Reidus

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2017, 11:17:23 PM »
I'd look into getting rid of the resistance heat part or getting a gas furnace or fireplace. Figure out how long it will take to pay for itself then decide.

Offline clayton95

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2017, 06:23:04 AM »
Thanks for the help and suggestions. I will update if anything new comes out of this.

Offline JakeLand

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2017, 06:29:34 AM »
Wood stove. Cheap and warm to hot

Offline BULLBLASTER

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2017, 06:57:19 AM »
For those that don't understand, Clayton's heat pump has electric resistance heat as the auxiliary heat source, not natural gas.  Depending on the design of the heat pump, all heat may be supplied by the electric resistance heat when the temp falls below a certain point, which is like having only electric resistance heat for the whole house.  $450 is not that unreasonable for a cold month.

I work in energy efficiency for a utility.  Check to see if your utility has a duct sealing program.  That could save a lot and they may pick up a lot of the cost.  There may also be "fuel conversion" incentives to help with a new gas heat system if you are heating with electric.
:yeah:
Also tell us a bit about how you are running it. Programmable thermostat? Set points? How are your windows? Are you using curtains or blinds on them? The electric bill does more than just heat the house. There are ways to increase efficiency there
Hot water? What kind of lights do you have?

What is your use for a month in kWh? Are you charged a demand charge also?


Offline jennabug

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2017, 11:50:56 AM »
That seems too high.  :o   Some of it may be the city that you're in; I think Kennewick is the worst for utility cost if I remember correctly.    I also wonder if insulation is an issue or there are other things drawing too much power.

We replaced our 4 ton heat pump and air handling system this year (it was 25 years old and the condenser finally died this spring) with another.  Our last bill was about $200, less than half for the same month last year.   If you want a second opinion, we were happy with "Jacobs and Rhodes".

Offline kellama2001

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2017, 12:27:41 PM »
Wood stove. Cheap and warm to hot

 :yeah:  We rarely use our electric heaters in our older home, the wood stove does an outstanding job...and we don't worry about freezing to death if the electricity goes out
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Offline 180-GRAIN

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2017, 12:31:09 PM »
I burn wood and my bill was double what it was last year at this time. Only thing I am doing different is running a heat lamp in the pump house. Seems like rates went up or something?

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Re: Electric bills are high with this cold
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2017, 12:36:59 PM »
Had a lot of work in my shop winter so had to run heat there. Wife got bill and yikes!