You have my sympathies. All electric homes can be extremely expensive to operate if the home wasn'tdesigned with a thermal envelope that significantly reduces heat loss/gain.
- Operating costs rise becauseyou are either using more energy or the energy unit cost has risen.
- You use more based on age andcondition of the equipment, climate conditions and occupant lifestyle changes (i.e. preventativemaintenance, thermostat set-points, etc.)
Keeping costs down
There are things you can do to keep the costs as low as possible subject to design limitations.
- Keepwindow treatments open during the day to allow in sunlight (converts to heat into the home) and closed atnight to keep the heat indoors.
- Electric resistant heat strips become more costly to operate as they age.Seventeen years is pushing the envelope on design service life. So replacement now would go a longway to reducing operating costs.
- The other thing to consider is operating the emergency electric heatingelements as little as possible.
Setback thermostats are not recommended when using a heat pump
When using a heat pump it is best to find a comfortable heat setting (in cold weather months) andleave it there. Setback thermostats are not recommended.
Most electric backup heating strips areautomatically brought on line if there is a 2-degree temperature difference between the thermostatsetting and the ambient temperature.
So, if you set the thermostat back during the day (while at work)you can guarantee that you'll be reheating the house using electric resistance, a very expensive option.
Buying a new heat pump
If you are in the market for a new heat pump you are in luck. Technologies have changed significantlyand it is now possible to have an air-source heat pump that operates at much lower outdoortemperatures than your existing system.
Optionally you might consider installing a ground-source,closed-loop heat pump. In most instances these systems can be sized to provide all of the heat yourequire, using the auxiliary heat only in the event of a pump failure. As with air source heat pumps youshould not use a setback thermostat with ground source heat pumps.
Find ways to reduce your heating/cooling load
Before making a purchasing decision have your home analyzed by an energy auditor to see if thereare things you can do to reduce your heating/cooling load.
The money you spend to hire a third-party auditor will be money well spent.
- They can help you size the equipment and provide a return oninvestment analysis on proposed improvements before you proceed with upgrades.
- Make sure that yourauditor can provide you with a computer analysis as part of their audit as well as Manual J calculations.