Florida may not have the extreme temperature swings seen in the Northeast, but the seasons do bring on significant changes that are noticeable. You might turn on your furnace for a bit during the winter and you certainly rely heavily on your AC during the hot, humid summers.
If you’ve lived here for any length of time, we’re sure you’ve noticed how much it costs to keep your air conditioner on 24/7 during the hottest months. With this article, we hope to explain in greater detail the correlation between the weather outside and high electricity costs and what you can do about it.
How Weather & Climate Affect Your Energy Bill
One of the biggest reasons behind fluctuating energy bills is weather. It’s pretty obvious that when it’s very hot outside, we rely on our air conditioners more and therefore pay more money to keep them running all day. When temperatures dip in the winter and our furnaces are in use, our electricity or gas bill (depending on your heating system’s fuel type) similarly increases. This is a pretty basic view of the issue, though—your bill is affected by a number of factors, both direct and indirect.
Your energy bill can be impacted by:
Extreme weather changes / temperature anomalies. Extreme temperature changes put a strain on your HVAC equipment, causing it to run longer and at maximum capacity. For example, if the weather changes from a chilly 40 degrees to 90 degrees the next day, your system is going to have a lot of work to do to change your indoor temperature. This increased demand for energy will reflect on your bill.
Climate. Florida is a naturally humid place. Humidity affects how we perceive temperature; the more more moisture is in the air on a hot day, for example, the hotter it will seem. Many people try to combat this by lowering their thermostats, but it’s important to remember that humidity and temperature are separate things, and there’s only so much your AC can do that wouldn’t be better left to a separate dehumidifier. The only thing lowering the thermostat will achieve is longer system run times, more wear and tear on your system, and higher bills.
Supply and demand. Just like any commodity, prices for electricity and gas are dictated by supply and demand, which is partially affected by the weather. When temperatures soar, the demand for electricity goes up, and therefore you can expect prices to rise as well. The same goes for the prices of natural gas in the colder months as more people run their gas furnaces.
Energy infrastructure. Unfortunately, “infrastructure” makes it onto this list because of its connection with climate change. A recent study posits that infrastructure expenditures may rise as much as 25% due to climate change alone, with the Southeast and Northwest of the U.S. being the most vulnerable regions. As hundred-year weather events become alarmingly more frequent, weather-related power interruptions and long-term impacts on the power grid will likely continue to drive prices.
The condition of your HVAC system. This is a big one. You can’t control how humid it is outside or geopolitical and environmental conditions affecting the price of energy, but your HVAC system belongs to you, and you have the power to keep it in good working order. Neglected HVAC systems can become huge energy hogs as their energy efficiency decreases with lack of maintenance. A few simple DIY tasks and regular HVAC service appointments can keep your system from consuming more energy than it should and jacking up your energy bills.
Be aware of your utility bill during the changing seasons. These weather changes can increase your energy usage when inefficiencies are present in your HVAC system.
4 Tips to Keep Your HVAC System Efficient
While there isn’t anything you can do about the weather or the current cost of electricity, you do have it in your power to make sure your HVAC system runs as efficiently as possible. As with most big investments, maintenance is key to performance and longevity. The less energy your system consumes while running, the lower the cost of operation and the more you’ll save.
Here are four simple tips to keep your HVAC system running optimally so that you can enjoy lower energy bills.
1. Regularly Change the Air Filter
When hot days are the norm, your utility bill will probably rise with a neglected air filter. Be sure to clean or replace the HVAC unit's filter on a frequent basis. It will look obviously clogged after running for a few months, depending on the model. Clogged filters force the system to work harder than it should, which leads to expensive utility bills. The filter is normally easy to reach for a quick look every few weeks.
2. Make Sure Your Home Has Adequate Insulation
One of the biggest inefficiencies in any household is the insulation. It may not be properly rated for your region, or it's missing entirely. Professionals can evaluate the home, such as the attic, to come up with a plan to update the insulation. Keeping the conditioned air in the home is the goal. Proper insulation performs this job whether it's winter or summer.
3. Don’t Skip the AC Recharge
As you pass by an AC vent, it's an automatic reaction to turn up the system if you feel warm air. However, you're just wasting energy by making the system work harder than necessary. Be sure to ask HVAC professionals to recharge the components. By adding coolant and checking for leaks, the system runs with as much efficiency as possible.
4. Keep the System Clean
Whether you're running the furnace or AC unit, allowing the interior components to remain covered in dust will impact the system's efficiency. Dust creates a layer on the parts, which reduces their ability to emanate heat. The system runs hotter than designed, so the parts will work extra hard. The parts pull additional energy from the electrical panel as a result. Keeping the system's internal components relatively clean will prevent this scenario.
Skyrocketing Energy Bills? Have Your HVAC System Checked Today!
Contact your local HVAC company if you notice a significant difference in your utility bills. There's a solid reason and solution to this scenario. Regular service on your HVAC system will reduce energy usage and give it a prolonged life. A professional evaluation provides a clear view of the problem.
Need help with your HVAC system in the Gainesville area? Call Mid-Florida Heating & Air now at (352) 377-4414.