The Only GUY To Call. Why are my utility bills so high? What can I do to lower my energy expenses?

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1 The Only GUY To Call May Why are my utility bills so high? What can I do to lower my energy expenses? Did you know... that between 2007 and 2012, the average U.S. household spent more than $700 on heating their home using natural gas and $1,700 on heating homes using heating oil! Heating your home is the largest energy expense in your home, accounting for more than 45% of the average American family s energy bills. That means making smart decisions about your home s heating and cooling systems can have a big impact on your energy bills. For starters, take a close look at your monthly gas utility bill. Under the section entitled, Detail of Charges for Gas Service, you will find a listing of the various charges applied to your bill for that month. One important detail is the gas supply usage. Your gas bill is calculated in therms. One therm is equivalent to 100,000 BTUs. Your supply charges are based on a cost per thm. This rate varies by supplier. Recently, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc. filed a request with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) for an increase in your natural gas distribution rates as of May 20, If approved in its entirety, the bill for a residential customer who purchases 72 therms of gas from Columbia Gas per month would increase from $87.12 to $96.20 per month, or by 10.42%. First Energy recently sent out a notice to its customers through a postcard that advised of an RTO Expense Surcharge. Pursuant to First Energy customer agreements, this additional ancillary service charge is a pass-through event charge. This means that First Energy Solutions will adjust the bills for its customers through a one-time charge called the RTO Expense Surcharge which will be approximately $5.00 to $15.00 for an average residential customer and will appear on their May, June or July bill. This charge pertains to January 2014 being an extremely cold month with temperatures reaching record lows, resulting in record levels of energy use. As a result, additional service costs were incurred to purchase the power needed to keep the electric system reliable throughout the severe conditions. Being aware of charges listed in your energy bills, in which you have no control over, is the first step. Keep in mind, that in Pennsylvania you have the option of choosing your energy supplier. Many times, doing the research to identify competitive rates, will result in lowering your overall monthly expenses if you choose to switch to a different supplier.

2 The next step would be to understand your heating and cooling systems, and ways to reduce your costs. Even though our winter season is winding down (Yay!), let s take a quick look at the different types of heat sources for heating systems first. Furnaces. A forced air furnace heats air and uses a blower motor and air ducts to distribute warm air throughout the house. The life expectancy of a furnace is between years. The efficiency of a furnace can range between 59% to 98%, depending on the systems age. A new Trane furnace with a higher AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), can save you money every month. If you have an older furnace, you may be spending more on fuel than you need to. For example, upgrading from an AFUE of 60% to an AFUE of 90% can save up to $33 of every $100 spent on fuel. By installing a new Trane 95% efficient furnace, your savings are even higher. Just as important as the AFUE rating, is the care and maintenance of the furnace on the part of the owner. Regular preventative maintenance is the best way to ensure trouble-free operation and peak performance of your equipment. It can help to avoid a system failure in severe hot or cold weather when you need it most, and it can also keep your energy bills from getting out of control. Many equipment warranties will not be covered if it is discovered to be due to lack of routine maintenance. Calling Denillo Heating & Cooling, Inc. and scheduling a 25-point Precision Tune-Up for your heating unit and cooling system is inexpensive and can often identify equipment problems before they cause noticeable malfunction or damage. If a unit is constantly dirty and clogged, it constantly runs harder and longer. This leads to early replacement or frequent component change-outs. Boilers. A boiler heats water to provide hot water or steam for heating that is then distributed through a series of pipes. The life expectancy of a boiler is between years. The efficiency of a boiler can range between 50% to 90%, depending on the systems age. Newer boiler provide higher AFUE ratings due to advance technology and design. The same maintenance and care rules apply to preventing early replacement - - schedule regular preventative maintenance by calling Denillo Heating & Cooling, Inc. to schedule a 25-point Precision Tune- Up for your boiler! Heat Pumps. A heat pump pulls heat from the surrounding air to warm the house and can also be used for home cooling. The life expectancy of a heat pump is approximately 15 years. A heat pump s cooling efficiency is measured using a SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), while its heating efficiency is measured using a HSPF factor (Heating Season Performance Factor). The HSPF can range between 6.8 to 10 HSPF and the SEER rating can range between 7 to 21, both dependent on the type of heat pump and the age of the unit. A heat pump uses electricity as its main fuel source and can be matched with a gas furnace and coil for additional heating power.

3 Heating System Maintenance you can do at Home. Change your furnace filters monthly and don t purchase the most expensive filters those tend to block air to the motor and other components; buying a less costly filter and changing it regularly on a monthly basis will keep your keep your system clean and allow for proper air flow to the major components of your unit; check air ducts and heating pipes to make sure they are properly sealed; and make sure air vents are not obstructed by furniture or curtains keep your furnace at least two inches from the wall where an air vent is located. Tips for Cutting your Heating Bills. In the winter months, open your curtains during the day to naturally heat your home and close them at night to keep the heat inside; use a programmable thermostat to set your heater back while you are away or asleep; consider air sealing your home and adding insulation to your walls and attic to help retain your home s heat up to 25% of your home s heat is lost through small cracks and holes throughout your home; weatherstrip around your doors and windows to keep warm air from escaping; set your ceiling fan to spin clockwise to blow the rising hot air down; and make sure your chimney is clean. Now, let s get to the warm and fun time of year Spring and Summer! This is the time of year when your gas bill goes down and your electric bill goes up, switching the energy cost to a different comfort system in your home your air conditioning unit! How many times has this happened to you? Annually, you get a Spring Safety Check performed on your air conditioning unit, you change your filters on time (once a month, remember?), you follow all energy-saving tips, and still your air conditioner breaks down in the middle of the summer! It happens to everyone when their air conditioners start getting up there in age, and eventually there comes a point when air conditioner repairs just won t cut it anymore you re going to need a new air conditioning system. But, how do you know when you hit that point? There are a number of warning signs that will pop up that will let you know when it s time for a new air conditioning unit: Needing Frequent Air Conditioner Repairs. The most obvious sign is the need for constant air conditioner repairs especially if those repairs get progressively more expensive. Let s face it if your air conditioner breaks down more than once in a summer, you can patch it up, but it won t be long before you need to replace it. Temperature Inconsistencies. Another possible sign that you need a new air conditioner is having severe temperature inconsistencies in your home. If you have rooms where the vents are releasing too much air, rooms that can t stay cool or rooms that get humid and sticky, you probably have one of three problems: (1) your air conditioner is malfunctioning; (2) you have poor insulation; (3) you have issues with the duct work. An Aging Air Conditioner. The most common reason why people need air conditioner repair is also the simplest their air conditioner is just old! Air conditioners are not designed to last more

4 than years. If your AC gets much older than that, you ll probably need a new unit sooner, rather than later. A new system will require far fewer repairs and will run much more efficiently. In fact, replacing an aging and worn out air conditioner can actually have a number of benefits, including: Increased energy efficiency, resulting in lower electric bills; Improved indoor air quality; Reduced carbon emissions Assuming that your air conditioner was installed 10 years ago, it probably has a SEER rating of 7. Today, the minimum SEER rating is 13, meaning that almost no matter what, a new air conditioner will save you at least 50% on your air conditioning costs. If your air conditioner accounts for 30% of your monthly energy bills, then a new unit will reduce your monthly bills by about 15%. One of the biggest differences is the fact that older units use a refrigerant called R-22. Unfortunately, R-22 was outlawed in 2010 and is no longer used in new equipment. All units produced now use R-410A refrigerant, which allows for reliable and more efficient operation of your system. Because R-410A can absorb and release more heat than R-22, your air conditioner compressor can SEER RATING Based on performance of one 3-ton air conditioning unit operating for 2100 cooling hours at $0.11/ kwh. Actual costs may vary depending on climate conditions, energy rates, and patterns on usage. run cooler, reducing the risk of compressor burnout due to overheating. R-410A also functions at a higher pressure than R-22, so new compressors are built to withstand greater stresses, reducing the chance for cracking. All of these warning signs relate to lower energy costs when a new unit is installed in your home. And, that s money back in your pocket! Tips for Cutting your Cooling/Electricity bills. These helpful tips are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum energy savings throughout the spring and summer: Using your Windows to Gain Cool Air and Keep out Heat. If you are comfortable, at night turn off your cooling system and open your windows while sleeping. When you wake in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air; install window coverings to prevent heat gain through your windows; find out about window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency. Operate your Thermostat Efficiently. Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be; keep your house warmer than normal when you are away,

5 and lower the thermostat setting to 78 F only when you are at home and need cooling. As mentioned earlier, a programmable thermostat can make it easy to control the varying temperature settings; avoid setting your thermostat at a cooler setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary energy costs. Use Fans and Ventilation Strategies to Cool your Home. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 F with no reduction in comfort; turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room; remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect; when you shower or take a bath, use the bathroom fan to remove the heat and humidity from your home; your laundry room might also benefit from spot ventilation; make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside (not just the attic). Keep your Cooling System Running Efficiently. Call Denillo Heating & Cooling, Inc. to schedule a 25-point Safety Check on your air conditioning unit; avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your thermostat; the thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary; vacuum registers regularly to remove any dust buildup; ensure that furniture, draperies, and other objects are not blocking the airflow through your registers. Denillo Heating & Cooling, Inc. (412) Don t Heat your Home with Appliances and Lighting. On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside; install efficient lighting that runs cooler; only about 10% to 15% of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light the rest is turned into heat; take advantage of daylight instead of artificial lighting, but avoid direct sunlight; wash only full loads of dishes and clothes; take shorter showers instead of baths; minimize activities that generate a lot of heat, such as running a computer, burning open flames, running a dishwasher, and using hot devices such as curling irons or hair dryers. Keep Hot Air from Leaking into your Home. Seal cracks and openings to prevent warm air from leaking into your home; add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows. Lower your Water Heating Costs. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 F); you ll not only save energy, you ll avoid scalding your skin. It certainly takes time and a lot of effort to implement many of these energy-saving suggestions. However, it always comes with a price - - and this time, the savings is in your pocket! We hope this article has been helpful to you. Denillo Heating & Cooling, Inc. is a full-service HVAC company that offers sales and service for all your comfort needs. We encourage you to visit our website at for more detailed information on the products and services we offer.

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