If you're like most homeowners, you have a tendency to pay for your heating bills without actually reading the fine print. Unfortunately, this bad habit could be costing you money. By taking the time to understand how to interpret your heating bills, you'll be able to make positive changes that will lower your spending.
Learn the lingo
The first step to understanding your heating bills is learning the language of your utility provider. Here's a look at several common terms associated with gas usage:
- BTU – The British Thermal Unit is among the most common terms used to describe heat energy.
- Therm – Sometimes abbreviated as "thm," this term is used to simplify the description of BTU usage. One therm equals 100,000 BTUs.
- CCF/MCF – CCF represents the usage of 100 cubic feet of gas, whereas an MCF equals 10 CCF (or 1,000 cubic feet of gas).
- Base allowance – Most utility companies set a "base allowance" for its users. This allowance describes what the utility provider feels is the minimum amount of gas that residents of a particular region will require in order to meet their basic needs. Households that consume gas within this range will pay the lowest utility rates, whereas those who use an excess of gas will be charged at higher intervals or "tiers."
Once you understand the lingo used on your heating bills, you can use it to your advantage. First, take a look at the amount of gas (in BTUs, Therms or CCF) that the gas company has chosen as your base allowance and compare it to your average gas consumption. If you're consistently using gas above the baseline, it may be time for a professional energy evaluation. Your HVAC contractor can help you to find problem areas, and may recommend that you upgrade to more efficient heating or cooling equipment. By reading the EnergyGuide label, you can determine an appliance's annual energy output (in BTUs) compared to other models and select the most efficient model for your home.
For more helpful energy-saving tips, contact the professionals at Joe Behr Plumbing & Heating. We proudly serve residents of the Mid-Ohio area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about lowering your heating bills and other HVAC topics, visit our website.