Why Does It Cost More to Run the Heat Than Air Conditioning?


Sinclaire Enterprises, Inc.

140 South St., Walpole, MA 02081
P 508.668.8200 Toll Free 877.668.8822 info@sinclaireboston.com
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If you’ve ever sat down and compared your utility bills over a year, you might have made a surprising discovery. Utility bills can be higher in the cold months than in the warm months. That’s right, it can actually be more expensive to run the heater during winter than to blast air conditioning all summer long.

This phenomenon can be confusing at first glance, but there is a reasonable explanation to be found. Let’s explore the different considerations that impact your heating bill, economic tips to stay warm, plus learn how regular furnace maintenance in Norfolk can help you reduce costs all year long.

Why the Heater Is More Expensive Than the Air Conditioner

There are several reasons why it’s more expensive to heat your home than it is to cool it. When these forces combine, they lead to high utility bills in the cold months. From relative temperature differences to furnace maintenance, here are multiple factors that drive up your heating costs.

Relative Temperature Differences

Heating is more expensive than air conditioning because your system has to do more work adjusting to relative temperature differences. Boston homeowners know that it gets a lot colder in Massachusetts than it gets hot. We have our warm days, but our cold winters are on another level.

Today, most homeowners keep their thermostats between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. On the hottest days, the temperature outside might climb 20 to 30 degrees above the thermostat. It simply doesn’t get much hotter than 105 degrees in the Boston area very often, so your air conditioner rarely needs to deal with more than 30 degrees of temperature difference.

On the other hand, think about our coldest days during the winter. Outdoor temperatures can dip down 50, 60, or even 70 degrees below your home’s thermostat. Your furnace is adjusting for double the temperature difference as your air conditioner. This relative temperature difference means your furnace is running harder than your air conditioner, leaving you with larger energy usage and a higher utility bill.

Different Efficiency Levels

Air conditioners and furnaces operate using different methods and aren’t equally efficient. This impacts your utility bills because it’s harder to make heat than it is to remove heat.

Air conditioners don’t work by making the air cold in your home. Instead, they remove hot air from your house and pump it outside. Most modern air conditioners can remove heat in a fairly efficient process. It’s simple to move heat from one place to another.

However, it’s more complicated and less effective for your furnace to generate hot air. Your furnace uses more energy in making heat than your air conditioner uses when removing heat. This explains why your heating bill is usually higher than your cooling costs.

Out-Of-Date Furnaces

How old is your furnace? If your furnace is out of date, aging, or needs repair, it may not be working properly. Major appliances and home systems like furnaces do have standard life spans. No furnace will last forever. If your furnace is old or needs repair, it won’t run efficiently.

Higher utility bills are a normal part of winter, thanks to the different operating methods of furnaces and air conditioners. But you should still keep an eye on your bills when you’re running your furnace. Unusually expensive months can be a sign your furnace is ready to be repaired or replaced. It may be time for heating replacement in Norwood if you’re paying high bills each month.

Economical Tips for Staying Warm

You can keep your utility costs low by taking economical steps to stay warm. Explore these simple ways to keep your family comfortable while remaining within your regular budget. These steps can help your heating bill be predictable throughout the cold-weather season.

Set the Thermostat to 68 Degrees

One classic tip for lowering your heating bills is to reduce the amount of heat you’re using. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees during the winter, with your fan switch on “auto.” This setting keeps your home noticeably warmer than cold winter days in Boston but doesn’t cost as much as running your furnace higher.

Find Times to Lower the Heat

Look for opportunities to turn the heat down, or even off. You don’t need to heat an empty house, so if you’re heading out for a short time, consider turning off the heat. Be mindful of any pets remaining at home and be sure to turn the furnace back on when you return. This simple habit helps you keep the house warm when you need it to be warm, not when you don’t.

Some families also turn the heat down a few degrees at bedtime. Winter comforters, quilts, and your other seasonal bed linens will keep everyone warm overnight. You may even find you sleep better when it’s slightly cooler in your bedroom.

Make the Most of Sunny Days

Capitalize on sunny days and invite natural warmth into your house. Open blinds and curtains to let the sun warm your home. Brief sunny patches are free sources of heat. Just make sure to put the house back into winter readiness when the sun goes down or the clouds come back. You can trap heat in your home by closing curtains, blinds, and shutters.

Reduce Heating Costs with Regular Furnace Maintenance

If you’re struggling with high utility bills during the winter, don’t overlook your heating system itself. When your furnace needs maintenance or repairs, it won’t run as efficiently as possible. You’ll face higher utility costs as well as a cold house. HVAC repair in Norfolk can help keep your home warm and your bills low.

Furnaces and heating systems need maintenance and repair to keep them functioning well. High costs are a sign that something is wrong with your furnace, even if you haven’t noticed anything else different in its performance. After all, a high bill means that your furnace is using more power to produce the same result. This reveals a decrease in efficiency that can become a problem over time.

Learn About Furnace Repair with Sinclaire Home Services

If your heating bills are increasing, your house is chilly, or your furnace is otherwise having problems, it’s time to get a professional opinion. Sinclaire Home Services is a local, respected HVAC provider. Contact (508) 668-8200 to learn about furnace repair to even out your utility bills.