Perhaps the most compelling reason why homeowners decide to track their energy usage is to become informed about where their money is being spent. If your energy usage peaks during the winter months, it’s a good indicator that your furnace is working too hard or is inefficient. High electricity bills during the summer might mean it’s time to schedule an air conditioning maintenance visit, change the AC filter, or perhaps replace the air conditioner in your Portland-area home altogether. Another reason to track your energy usage is to evaluate your savings after you make upgrades, like getting a new furnace installed . Here’s how to get started.
Getting Your Account Online
While it isn’t strictly necessary, it can be easier to track your energy usage if you set up an online account with your utility company. These days, most service-oriented companies offer online options, including Portland General Electric and Pacific Power. With an online account, you should be able to view your account history. Your utility company may even offer tools specifically for energy usage tracking. You can also view your current statements online.
Understanding Your Bill
Utility bills can be confusing, and different companies each use their own format. If you aren’t sure how to interpret yours, check the utility company’s website for a tutorial, or call the company directly. Look for the read dates, which tell you the length of the usage period. The read dates are different from the bill dates. When you check the costs, ignore the total labeled “net costs,” since that can include the previous month’s expenses.
Comparing Your Energy Usage
Some utility companies offer brief comparisons of your energy usage and your locality’s average energy usage. Or, you can check with the appropriate municipality or state agency for this information. If your energy usage is significantly higher than the average, it’s definitely time to consider some household upgrades.
Developing Smart Saving Strategies
To make the most significant impact, you’ll likely have to make major upgrades, such as by replacing your air conditioning unit and furnace in favor of energy-efficient options. There are also plenty of other options that don’t require a major upfront investment. For example, you should change your AC filter and furnace filter as recommended by the manufacturer. Otherwise, your HVAC system will use more energy.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units determine how comfortable and healthy your space will be, as well as how much you’ll pay to keep it that way. If you want to save energy in Portland, look at your options and choose your new appliances carefully. Think about what size furnace you’ll need and what type of fuel it will use. If you choose the most energy efficient furnace you can find, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Here’s a look at some questions to consider when choosing a new furnace .
Which size should I choose?
If you need a new furnace but you’re not sure how to start the search, size is a good factor to begin with. The right size heating appliance will be proportional to the space that you must heat. A huge furnace will do a good job of heating your small home, but you might lose a great deal of energy in the process. Conversely, a small furnace might not be enough to keep your large home comfortable. Talk to your heating and air conditioning professionals to find out how much power you need to warm your home while being energy efficient.
Which kind of fuel is best for me?
Air conditioning units just need electricity, but furnaces can use different power sources. Think about the price of these different types of fuel, and consider what kind of fuel you used for your furnace in the past. Sticking with the same fuel is easy, but switching may also have its benefits.
Is this furnace efficient?
Efficiency is always a quality that you should look for when you’re choosing new appliances. More efficiency means less of your money going towards your energy bills, and big heating and cooling appliances like furnaces and air conditioning systems tend to take up most of the energy needs of your household. AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, describes the way an appliance turns energy into heat. Look for a furnace with a high AFUE rating so you and your family can enjoy lower bills and better efficiency.
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