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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    15

    New Home & Big Bills HELP!!!

    Hello everyone & thanks in advance!

    We just built a new home with 2x6 walls, plenty of insulation, etc. Our first two natural gas bills were over $200.00 !!!! I will give as much info as possible:

    -1,800 square foot ranch with basement unfinished with open stairwell
    -We live in North Central Iowa
    -There is no wind break whatsoever around the house and it has been a very cold & windy winter
    -We rarely have the t/stat above 70 degrees and turn it down to 66 when we are gone during the weekdays
    -Rheem RGRL09EZAJS furnace
    -Venmar Constructo 1.5 air to air exchanger
    -Only partial return air panning in basement, I assume they plan on the drywalled ceiling to take care of the rest

    Gas Charge Information:
    -1/9 to 2/10/09, 32 Days, Avg. Temperature 12 degrees
    -254 ccf x 0.974 pressure x 1.023 BTU factor = 253 therms
    -Delivery charge: 253 therms x 0.18438
    -Gas supply charge: 253 therms x 0.66141

    Does the air to air exchanger play a big factor in this? How do you know that it is installed & running the way it should? Thanks ahead of time for all your help. As well built as this house is, I was shocked to see gas bills like this!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    6,959
    Does not sound unusual to me...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cedar Grove, Wi-Sheboygan
    Posts
    1,582
    Doesn't seem to be unusal to me either, I live in Wisconsin 100 yr old farm house, R-50 in the attic, and the walls are bare minimum with 2X4 construction and my heating bills which include both NG & electric togeather were approximately December $300, January $285 and Febuary $215. I leave my furnace fan running 24/7 stat set to 68* set back to 65* at night so your $200 NG bill isn't that bad unless it's strickly the NG portion of the bill Then it maybe alittle on the high side.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    2,687
    that actually sounds about average therm usage for average 12* month. Was the previous month an actual reading or estimated? (several utility companies only take actual readings every other month, so you may have even counted some of the previous months therms into this payment).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    108
    Bill is less than I'm paying in Calif - but we're on propane. 253 therms does seem like fairly high consumption, given the tight construction and 90% furnace. The air to air heat exchanger could be a factor, do you also have a gas water heater, clothes dryer or cooktop?

    Depending on occupant load and usage - bath & laundry exhaust fans can really swap out considerable 'heated' air if left on inadvertently. An inside mounted clothes dryer also exhausts a bunch of conditioned air as well.

    I'm well insulated but have lots of ceiling can lights. These tend to leak pretty badly, there are gaskets that can be retrofitted to tighten that up, haven't tried it yet but the whole house envelope guys tell me it's a big factor.

    You mentioned new house - it might be worth it to just confirm 100% that there are no loose connections or leaks in ductwork. That can trigger high utilities, not fun when you discover it 2 years down the road. We had a cable guy knock loose a connection after startup and it wasn't visible till you dug around.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,171
    If your return panning is open in the basement. Then your adding load to the heating system.

    Your Venmar may be set up incorrectly, and can cause higher heating bills.

    What is it set up for. How many CFM, how often is it set to run?

    Open stairwell to basement, is seldom a good idea.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,240
    Wish we had your price of gas!

    But 253 therms seems high to me. So does using a 90,000 BTU 95% furnace for well built 1800 sq ft home! While not the cause of a lot of gas usage, does stick out for me.

    You have had a very cold winter. Only thing I can suggest is ask neighbors with similar homes what their usage is. Could ask for a blower door test just to see if the house is really tight.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mechanicsburg, PA
    Posts
    310
    1800 sq ft home @ 90k furnace sounds too large to me.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,876
    Wonder where the actual load fell? Could have fallen at 80K so they went larger with the 90K furnace? (just thinking outloud)

    Anyway, round these parts (Ohio) we have many 90K furnaces running 1800 square foot homes and a 200 dollar gas bill is pretty average.

    Personally I have 1620ish square feet and a 70K / 90% and with our coldest winter in 10 years this year, my highest bill was 198 dollars.....

    I usually average around 150 in the cold months.....the stat is set at 70 from 8 am to 10 pm and then drops back to 65 at night....
    I need a new signature.....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    15
    Thank you everyone for the incredibly quick respones!!! Our HVAC installer has been around for 100 years and never does any calculations. load tests, etc. They just do it "the way they have always do it"! I know this personally because I ran the office there for 16 years up to 2002.

    So my question is can our utilities company run the blower door test and/or check the CFM's, how often it's set to run, etc. on the air to air??? Is there any kind of tests "Joe Homeowner" can do?

    THANKS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Bob

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,171
    You can check the air temp at the closest return and supply to the furnace.
    Although not a real good test, if it shows a high temp difference, you may found part of the problem.

    How often does it cycle in an hour.
    How warm is it keeping your basement.
    Check for air leaks in the basement.(a leaky new house )
    Ask them if they forgot to finish panning those returns(drywall ceiling may not stay as tight as they think a few years down the road).

    Most of us(or at least me) are guessing your furnace is direct vent(combustion air comes from outside), is it?
    If you have a gas water heater, where does it get its combustion air from?
    Do you have a hot tub.
    Do you have a gas stove, and do a lot of cooking and baking.
    Do you have a commercial range hood.



    Why do some people answer questions with more questions.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Candia, NH
    Posts
    44
    I would agree with the open return in the basement adding to your additional load, not to mention decreasing the indoor air quality. Incorrect air flow will play a large part of your utility costs.

    http://www.oikos.com/esb/28/duct_losses.html

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Huntsville,AL
    Posts
    4,125
    trust YOUR senses --
    look for holes,
    feel for air flow! [ other than the wasteful return path]

    Lots of windows?
    storms?
    attic insulation?

    DD for the billing period?
    compute therms/DD/sf.

    about every appliance has a name plate; it or the Owner's manual will state the BTU/H consumed
    -- for a stove, it will probably be listed for each burner --
    -- -- BUT, how many hours do you use each burner? 'full on'?
    = not easy to answer;
    one could turn off all appliances, then read the meter, then use just one appliance for a typical period, then read the meter again.
    or put a meter on each pipe for each appliance [ $$$$$ ].

    It will be easier to just note the usage for nonheating months, subtract that average value from the gas used during a heating month.
    harvest rainwater,make SHADE,R75/50/30= roof/wall/floor, use HVAC mastic,caulk all wall seams!

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