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Old 12-09-2008, 10:03 AM
9,869 posts, read 18,990,797 times
Reputation: 8533


Hi first post here, I've used this site as a reference in the past but never registered. Looking forward to contributing! Here's my first question though....

OK winter has set in, we're on a pretty strict budget as the wife and I have taken a collective $60k/yr pay cut so far.

We moved here about 6 months ago, bought a fairly new, smallish house at under 2000 SF, with two heat pumps, one upstairs one downstairs. It's an all electric house.

Our bill so far this month (running the numbers from the meter outside) we're looking at $150 (1500 kwh so far and counting) and we've still got a week to go. I estimate it will be $200+ for the month, we're spending over $7/day. Contrast this with Augusts' which was the most I've ever had to pay in electricty anyplace I've ever lived and that was $130. September was $60 and October was $70.

My question is, is this normal for winter with heat pumps? We keep the thermostats at 68F daytime and 65F at nighttime. The aux heatstrips don't come on, I roll up the temps gradually in the morning. The units are operating correctly and efficiently - we had the original company who installed them come and check them out recently (1 week ago).

Just seems to be ridiculous considering we've kept the temps so low and it's a newer house (built 3 years ago). I've never experienced a utility bill this high in other places that I've lived.

I've checked the obvious, windows are closed, seals are good, etc.

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Old 12-09-2008, 10:33 AM
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We get low rates with our heat pump in our apt.

Might want to have the units checked for proper operation since your temp settings are on target.
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Old 12-09-2008, 10:34 AM
Location: North Carolina
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I'll ask the dumb question: are you *sure* that you read the meter right?
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Old 12-09-2008, 10:47 AM
Location: Right where I want to be.
4,508 posts, read 7,644,295 times
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How are you sure the electric strips aren't coming on?? With temps as low as we have had them, it seems likely they would be engaging.

One thing we do is set the thermostat to raise only one degree every 30 minutes in the morning. Otherwise the system will think it is taking too long to warm up and flips to the heat strips.

Dh had a toggle switch by the thermostat but we took it out when we got a new unit installed in the spring. We may put it back on or have an outdoor thermostat installed. I don't care if it takes longer to warm up....but we would like to minimize using those heat strips.

Oh, we also have a mattress pad warmer on each bed and stay toasty warm even though the thermostat is set at 60* overnight.

Here's some info that might help.
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:01 AM
Location: Raleigh NC
1,249 posts, read 4,168,096 times
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My home is 17 months new and I have the heat pump system, I keep my upstairs at 65 and downstairs at 66, the heat strips do not come on as I never play with the thermostat (digital) I set it and forget it...lol... my last Progress Energy bill spiked almost $40.00 since the temps went down, not sure why, I am thinking because the unit has to go on and off so much?? My home is efficient as is the Lennox unit...I change my filters monthly, who knows...everything goes up but our paychecks. I am just happy I don't have oil heat here in NC, those oil deliveries were a killer!
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:03 AM
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That actually sounds reasonable. $200 for electric bill and you don't have a gas bill. The past 30 days have been really cold. My electic/gas bills will be more than double that for this past month, and my house isn't twice as big as yours.
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Old 12-09-2008, 12:04 PM
Location: Oxxford Hunt, Cary NC
4,141 posts, read 9,528,431 times
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The colder it is, the more expensive heat pump heat gets. It seems like it's been colder than usual lately. I'm expecting a $200 gas bill this month - plus whatever my electric bill is for lights/fridge/computer, etc. At least I hope it's only $200 - my prior month was ~$95.
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Old 12-09-2008, 12:10 PM
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Yes the meter is being read correctly I'm just shocked it's this high. I tried turning down the heat at night or even off it gets to around 58F but if you sit there and slowly dial it up to a reasonable temp it will take 2-3 hours to get there. No I'm not going to do that.

I've had heat pumps in apartments before they've always been reasonable that's why I'm surprised.
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Old 12-09-2008, 12:47 PM
Location: North Carolina
530 posts, read 1,728,552 times
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I too had concerns that our heat pump wasn't working right, so a couple weeks ago I paid the big bucks and had it looked at. While the young fellow was recharging the unit, I really picked his brain about heatpumps (and he seemed glad to be able to display his knowledge). He said not to turn the thermostat down at night and up in the morning. This potentially causes the dreaded heat strips to come on OR it causes the pump to run and run because the walls, floors, furniture etc. have gotten cold and need to be heated up.

He also said that when it gets below 35 or so he purposely sets his to run on heat strips--he claimed it uses less electricity to run the strips a few minutes at a time versus the heat pump running nearly continuously. Not sure I agree with him on that, but there you have it.
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Old 12-09-2008, 01:07 PM
Location: RTP area, NC
1,277 posts, read 2,929,349 times
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We have heat pumps and Dec has been a bit unusually cold. We'll get hit with a largish bill b/c I have heard them running a lot this month.

I really like the idea of raising the temp 1 degree every half hour - I am going to program the temps to do that upstairs. I really only raise the heat upstairs from 6-7:30am while we are all getting showered in the am. the rest of the day it is kept at 67 b/c the heat from downstairs keeps it all warm enough. I try to leave downstairs on 68 but will bump it up to 70 in the evening if we don't use the fireplace.

Given this pattern of usual usage and usual weather here in Raleigh, I have found our electric bills are highest in July and January. Dec and Feb are closest to January. June and August usage is the next highest, but average less than Dec and Feb. Mar, April, May, Sept, Oct and Nov are all lower --- with April, Sept and Oct usually the months I do not need them on at all. Or just use the fan to circulate air.

So...given that, our total electric bills are still cheaper than oil & electric of my sister-in-law up in CT and we count ourselves lucky not to be paying oil prices in the winter. note: we do not run our floodlights on outside b/c they raise our bill largely.

Have you considered asking progress energy for an average monthly payment? When I have asked for one, they usually quote a higher amount, but when I get the Dec, Jan and Feb bills, I always wish I have done it b/c they are so much higher.
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