Sosa & Sons General Contractors, Inc.

How To Assess Utility Usage In Your Residence

In view of the unusually cold winter we have just experienced, high energy cost and usage has been a problem for most households, in a time when many are struggling economically. In ranking order below, are high wattage consumption devices that are common in many homes.

  1. Heat pump/aux. emergency heat, 10kw/hr. 10 hours/day = $6.80/day
  2. Heat pump condensing unit, 10hrs/day =$2.70/day
  3. Electric oven, 5000 watts = 35 cents/hour
  4. Water heater, 4500 watts = 32 cents/hour, 3 cycles = $1.00/day
  5. Electric clothes dryer, 4000 watts = 28 cents/hour for 3 hours = 84 cents/day
  6. Well pump, 3000 watts = 21 cents/hour estimate 5 hour run time = $1.05/day
  7. Space heaters, 1500 watts = 11 cents/hour estimate 8 hour run time = 88 cents/day
  8. Refrigerator, 1000 watts = 07 cents/hour, estimate 24 hour run time = estimated at $1.68/day
  9. Computer/monitor, 400 watts = 03 cents/hour  = 72 cents/day

The above table assumes kw hours @ 07 cents/kw and we have estimated usage, however, usage varies per household and type of appliance.

Heat pumps lose their efficiency when temperatures are below 30-32 degrees Fahrenheit.  Aux/emergency heat comes on when the temp inside is set 10 degrees above what is indicated on the thermostat, or when the unit cannot achieve its set point temperature due to the inefficiency of the heat pump. Both units then come on to achieve the new set point temp.  This can cost up to $6-$10 dollars/day for 10 hour usage. This can explain high electrical bills.

Other variables that can cause high electrical consumption are:

  • Improper insulated attic/basement walls
  • Improper weatherstripping/sealing around doors and windows
  • Crawl space vents not closed properly
  • Unsealed openings in the walls or flooring

These can be applied to the upcoming summer months to keep the heat out and the cool air inside while the air conditioner is in operation. Obviously proper maintenance of all appliances are key in optimizing kilowatt usage. Note, all instant on devices, or devices that are left in a “sleep mode” also continually utilize energy.

If you are concerned about any of these items, we can inspect your utilities/home and provide you with an energy use assessment.


Checking your heat pump/emergency heat:

The winter season is upon us and preparations are needed to insure that you are comfortable throughout this season. Our topic is to discuss the symptoms of problems associated with heat pumps and auxiliary heat strips. However, note that plumbing, fireplace, electrical, gas unit maintenance are also equally important, but will be discussed in future blogs.

Please call us if you are uncomfortable in conducting these inspections yourself, as we will be happy to make a service call to service your unit for you.


  • Low air flow through your vents – inspect your return air filter and change monthly
  • Inspect your evaporator coil to ensure for cleanliness (split package is the inside unit coil, package unit are on the outside and a little more difficult to reach)
  • Outside condensing unit is freezing up – low on refrigerant charge, or system is not going into defrost mode
  • Most unit thermostats will automatically go into auxiliary heat strip when temperature set points cannot be achieved inside the house by the heat pump (too cold outside, below 32 degrees) or when you set your thermostat 10 degrees above what you desire. Note, some thermostats are wired for both heat strip and heat pump to come on at the same time.
  • A small temperature gauge can be set inside the vent to indicate supply temps. Set your thermostat to aux. heat, and within 3 – 5 minutes, airflow will be noted and temperature will increase. If the unit does not respond, the emer gency heating system is not operational. You should schedule a service call with us to inspect your unit.