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Old 01-22-2013, 06:29 PM   #1
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How to set heat in large home

I just moved into my first home. It is a 3200 sq ft home comprised of 3 stories and a large attic. 4-bedroom 2 bath large second floor. living room, dining room kitchen, family room, laundry room on 1st floor, and a basement which is 1/2 finished. there are 2 independent heating systems.
The basement and 1st floor are heated with a Gas furnace (LP) Which is located in the unfinished side of the basement.
The 2nd floor, where the bedrooms are, are heated with an electric heat pump with the air handler located in the attic.
So far this winter, my electric bill has been much higher than it was in the summer,which surprises me because it hasn't been very cold yet.
In addition, I have used about 500 gallons of LP which also seems very high.
I have a programmable thermostat on the first floor set at 65F during the day and 67F at night.
We keep the 2nd floor at 66F. I keep the doors of the 3 unoccupied bedrooms closed with their registers closed as well. The upstairs stays pretty darn cold, other than the master bedroom.
Anyone know any tricks I can use to lower my total energy consumption?


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Old 01-22-2013, 07:34 PM   #2
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Open the registers on the unused rooms on second floor. Having them closed could be making your heat pump lock out on high pressure which makes the high priced electric elements run. It has to have the designed air flow to work correctly.


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Old 01-22-2013, 08:19 PM   #3
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Winter bills will always be higher than Summer bills. The best thing to do is get something like this and two extra sensors, so that you can get an idea of all floors, to help find common set point for the thermostats.

It also does not help when you have people going by and changing the temp due to too warm, or too cold. We keep ours at 69 during the Winter, 65 at night. Summer we keep it around 71 to 72 depending on the tempst outside, may adjust if it is cooler outside, but humid, so the inside stays not stuffy, due to the system not running.

Also in the Winter, take advantage of the Sun to help warm the home up during the daytime hours, but during Summer, you want to block the sun by drawing drapes & using blinds to keep the temp down, so the system does not have to work harder. And yes, ceiling fans do work for both during the Winter & Summer.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:56 PM   #4
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How old is the house?
Old leaking windows?
Has it been air sealed? (filling all holes in the top and bottom plates with spray foam, sealing there any plumbing was run, sealing where any ceiling lights or fan go through the ceiling in the attic.)
How much insulation is in the attic?
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:00 PM   #5
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One thing that can raise electric bills for heat pump homes is when the heat pump has to run with the auxillary heat. This happens when the pump can't keep up or after a set-back period. If the charge is low the heat pump won't produce enough heat to keep up and this also can keep the resistance heat working more than it should. Have the heat pump checked out for a proper charge and have the LP furnace cleaned as well. I have one heat pump and a 2800 sq ft home and my electric bill rarely gets over $200 in summer or winter. Spring and fall it's often $70-80.
Do you want it your way or the right way?
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:20 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=gregzoll;1099815]Winter bills will always be higher than Summer bills. The best thing to do is get something like this

Depends on the climate. Our summer bills run in the 3 to 400 range but our last months power bill was 170, this is running a pool pump and 4 ton heat pump with auxiliary heat shut off.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:12 AM   #7
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Big House... Big Bills.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:24 PM   #8
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Thanks for all of the advice so far.
I have opened all of the upstairs registers; even in the 3 unoccupied bedrooms.

Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Winter bills will always be higher than Summer bills.
I wouldn't think that would have applied with this home. Reason being that the main heat source is LP gas. I would have thought that cooling would have created a higher electric bill than heating primarily with the Gas.

This is a very well built home built in 1999. Great windows and insulation. Even during the hurricane a few months ago, we couldn't hear any sounds of wind or rain.
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:47 PM   #9
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Depends on the area. My in-laws got in on a group bulk purchase of LP this year, so it actually cost them around 74 cents a gallon, compared to the normal pricing, but their electric is still high, due to they use eletric baseboards to supplement in the upstairs, and downstairs bedrooms.

Our city owned utility actually raised the rates, and included a Summer use surcharge, so our Summer rate is higher than our Winter rate. To add to that, our Natural Gas utility (Ameren) kept rates low, but have not adjusted due to costs to deliver, etc., just their electric side went up. Go figure. Also what is bad, is utilities are raising rates, due to increased consumer cost saving ways to reduce use in homes and businesses. So either way, you still get hit no matter what you do.
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:26 AM   #10
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If your not already, I'd keep the upstairs set to a constant temp 24/7 otherwise as stated previous to me the aux heat strips will kick in and run your bill up like crazy during recovery. Also heat pumps don't really like setbacks (takes too long to recover without aux heat). Downstairs set it back about 8 degrees at night, bring it up a little during the daytime if anyones around, then bring it up to your "comfort" temp in the evening when people are home. Make sure all the vents are open (which you did already), I'd apply this to the main level too, especially if it's a more open floor plan. and last but not least, make sure your filters are changed and kept up on!

What I told you is everything I do in our 1990, 3,100 sqft multi level home. Tight and well insulated, except for a couple leaky doors and tons of windows on the main level. Two 80% efficient NG gas furnaces, one up, one down. downstairs 70 evening, 64 at night, 68 daytime. Upstairs 66 daytime, 71 at night. This past cold month was 278 for gas (Usually lower but the heat was cranked up quite a bit this past month)
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:59 AM   #11
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Is the gas furnace an 80% efficient or a 90%plus efficient furnace. Where does it gt its combustion air from. Check for duct leaks in the basement.

Also check for duct leaks on the heat pump. And make sure the supply and return boots and registers are sealed to the ceiling. Change or clean your air filter on a regular basis.


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