When we think of our energy costs, it's pretty straightforward for most of us: the more energy we use, the more we pay. While that's basically true, many other factors can affect how that amount on our energy bills is determined.
Take weather, for instance. Obviously, when temperatures go up or down, you use more energy so that you can feel comfortable. But extreme weather events, such as polar vortexes and killer heat waves far from your home, also play a role, as do more ordinary, localized weather occurrences, such as high humidity.
Here's how weather affects your energy bill:
High humidity isn't an unusual weather event, particularly in warm, rainy times. But when humidity invades your home, it can make you so uncomfortable you're likely to turn down the air conditioner so you'll stop feeling sticky. Humidity over the 50-55 percent range inhibits the cooling mechanism that allows perspiration to evaporate on our skin and cool us off.
High moisture content in the home may also result in more moisture on evaporator coils, which makes the unit run longer.
It's important to keep relative humidity low in the home during summer. Fix ceiling and plumbing leaks, and keep your air filter changed to promote good air flow so the A/C can dehumidify the home properly.
Cost of energy is determined by supply, demand and how much is stored. So whenever storms damage the energy infrastructure - be it a hurricane that hits a refinery, or tornadoes that knock out part of the electric grid - it interferes with the supply and costs can go up.
Extreme heat waves in recent years have also been playing a role in energy costs, since power plants rely on cool water to cool equipment while energy is produced. When air and water temperatures are too high, this cooling process is interrupted where the plant may not be able to operate efficiently.
Visit the Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar website for more information on saving money on your energy bill and on most other HVAC topics, or call us at (408) 868-5500.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).