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Why Does Heating Cost More Than Cooling?

You may have noticed your home’s energy costs rise as we enter into the winter season. This can be partially attributed to increased light usage—considering the common addition of Christmas lights and the indoor lights that compensate for short winter days. However, the primary culprit of high winter energy bills is your heating system. Heating a home tends to cost more than twice as much as cooling a home. So why does heating cost so much?

Cold Weather and the Higher Temperature Difference

Heating your home costs more than cooling your home because cold weather tends to stray further from comfortable temperatures than warm weather. Let’s take a closer look using Sacramento temperature averages as an example:

  • 72℉ is often considered to be the ideal home temperature—we can use this as a benchmark.
  • The warmest day, on average, in Sacramento reaches a high of over 100℉.
  • The coldest day, on average, in Sacramento reaches below 39℉. 
  • On the warmest day in Sacramento, your home will need to provide a 28℉ temperature difference to reach 72℉.
  • On the coldest day in Sacramento, your home will need to provide a 33℉ temperature difference to reach 72℉.

Areas with colder-leaning weather—such as Chicago and New York—will see even larger temperature gaps. You can use Weather Spark temperature averages to calculate how much harder your heating system needs to work than your cooling system. Because it bridges a wider temperature gap, your heating system will tend to use more energy than your cooling system—resulting in higher monthly bills. 

Other Factors That Contribute to Heating Costs

Your heating costs will depend on a mixture of different circumstances. Staying aware of these contributing factors can help you counteract them—making it easier to stay warm and keep heating costs low during the colder months.

The Type of Heating System You Have

Do you have a heat pump? Furnace? Mini-split system? Is your unit high efficiency? The type of heating system you have will impact your heating costs. For example, mini-split systems often offer affordable, yet less effective heating, while furnace units will cost more to provide comprehensive comfort. You can talk with the experts at Bonney to explore the most affordable and efficient heating options available for your home.

Your Annual Maintenance Routine

Like any other system in your home, heaters require annual care. This includes regular inspections, burner cleaning, electrical connection tightening, condenser coil cleaning, and hot surface ignitor checks, among others. Units that receive the manufacturer-recommended care they need will perform more efficiently than heating systems that go without maintenance. Keeping up with your annual system maintenance will help your heater work efficiently throughout the colder months. 

The Age of Your Unit

Older heating systems will naturally use more energy than newer ones. In part, aged parts can become worn and inefficient. New heating systems also take advantage of the latest energy-efficient upgrades. You will notice that newer heaters come with higher AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratings.  This rating measures how much of your fuel is being used to actually heat your home versus being wasted. If your furnace or heater has become costly and inefficient, it may be time to upgrade to a new heating system.

Distribution Efficiency

Your ductwork serves as your home’s method of heat distribution. The warm air travels from your heater through this system of passageways before being released through your vents. If your ductwork is leaky, old, or inefficient, it will cause air loss during the distribution process. Your heating system will have to work harder to make up for air loss, which creates higher energy bills. Even sealed but uninsulated ductwork will cause a loss in efficiency. This can be solved with duct cleaning, adding insulation for ductwork upgrades. 

Energy Costs in Your Area

Electric and natural gas costs can vary across states and regions. It is usually the highest in densely-populated areas where the demand is higher, as well as remote locations where delivering energy is more costly. In the Sacramento region, we have a variety of public utility municipalities, including Roseville electric, SMUD, and PG&E. For pricing insight, please refer to their websites or reference your latest utility bill. Our Bonney team members can help you analyze your energy usage and provide recommendations on how you can save money.

The Climate in Your Area

Naturally, colder climates tend to create higher heating costs. Whether you live in a cold region or are experiencing a particularly extreme winter, your heating system will have to work more continuously to keep your home comfortable. The harder your heating system is working, the higher your energy costs will be.

Your Home’s Elevation

Homes at higher elevations will face cooler temperatures, which can lead to higher heating bills. This is because the atmosphere thins at higher elevations, and the particles lose energy as they expand. Additionally, your home’s elevation can make it harder for your power company to deliver power to your home. This can result in higher energy rates and less reliable energy service.

The Landscaping Surrounding Your Home

Trees and shade blocking the sun from meeting your home will make cooling your home in the summer easier and heating your home in the winter harder. The Department of Energy reports that heavily shaded areas can be 3-6℉ cooler than treeless areas. In the winter, the trees will shade your home from the sun, though carefully-placed trees may help keep you warm by blocking wind chills. 

As the “City of Trees,” Sacramento enjoys the shade and blocking of wind chills, but this does make seasonal maintenance a necessity. As part of the Bonney Beyond maintenance program, you can have the assurance your system will be cleared of leaves and debris.

Local Heater Repair, Replacement, and Maintenance Services

Ultimately, heating your home will cost more than cooling—but there are plenty of actions you can take to keep these expenses low. For all of the heating services you need this winter, contact the experts at Bonney. We work to offer quick repairs, reliable maintenance, and affordable replacements for your heating system. Bonney proudly serves the greater Sacramento area, including Fair Oaks, Gold River, Rosemont, La Riviera, Citrus Heights, Roseville, Carmichael, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, and beyond! Make your Bonney appointment here online to get started today!