Many people are not aware of the fact that in addition to keeping a tally of how much energy they have used over the last month, the humble electricity and gas meters in their homes can be used to keep an eye on the efficiency of their domestic heating and cooling systems. By performing simple calculations based on the average daily temperature, you can work out whether you are using more energy than you should be over a particular period of time. If you would like to learn how to do this, as well as how to quickly and easily read the utility meters in your Toronto home, please read on.
Using Degree Days and Meter Readings to Monitor Heating and Air Conditioning Efficiency
Degree days are units that can be calculated simply by comparing the average temperature every day against a benchmark of 65°F. Every degree above this is counted as one cooling degree day and every degree below is counted as one heating degree day. Manually calculating degree days for a week, month, or a year can be very time consuming but you can find websites with local weather data that have free heating and cooling degree day calculators you can use to make the task much easier. The professionals use linear regression analysis to pinpoint potential issues with commercial or domestic heating and air conditioning equipment but there is no need to get this involved unless you really want to. All you really need to do is to look at the number of heating or cooling degree days for 2 or more periods of time and compare them to your energy usage during these same periods to see if your energy usage is going up and down in proportion with the heating and cooling degree days.
For example, if in the month of July there were 200 cooling degree days and you used 400 kWh of electricity, you would expect that in a month where there were only 100 cooling degree days that you would use around 200 kWh. If this is not the case and you see large, disproportionate rises in energy usage during times when your heating and air conditioning systems are working harder, this is an obvious sign that something may be wrong with your equipment. However, before you go rushing out to buy a new furnace or start asking Toronto HVAC contractors to quote you for a replacement central air-con system, it is a good idea to ask a local expert to double check your figures and, of course, to inspect the HVAC equipment in question to determine whether it does actually need to be replaced or whether there is a less drastic solution to your higher-than-expected energy usage. Often, the solution for inefficient heating and air conditioning systems can be as simple as replacing or cleaning a filter.
Reading Your Meters
In order to compare your gas and electricity usage to the degree day units you record, you will of course need to be able to read your utility meters. Electricity is measures in kilowatt hours (kWh) and when you are making a note of the current reading on your meter, you should write down the figures on the dials from right to left, not the other way around. The natural gas that heating and air conditioning equipment consumes is normally measured in cubic feet (CCF) and gas meters should be read from left to right, the opposite of electricity meters.
If you need any help reading and understanding your meters, please feel free to contact us during office hours.