Keeping a family home running can feel like an uphill battle sometimes. From maintenance work to running costs, there are many things that can put a strain on your finances. Generally high energy bills or a sudden increase in costs is the last thing that any property owner wants. There are many different things that can cause your energy bills to increase, but if you haven’t changed your habits or installed new appliances that can account for the increase, it’s time to worry.
Disproportionately high energy bills can be a problem sign for a number of issues in your property. Some of these issues can be rectified quite easily, while others will definitely require professional intervention.
When Should You Worry About High Energy Bills?
Beyond the obvious financial concerns, there are plenty of reasons why you should be concerned about a sudden spike in your energy bills. Your property’s energy usage and bills aren’t just representative of your activity and general energy efficiency. It’s also affected by the health of your property. As such, a sudden change in your energy costs can be a warning sign that something is not quite right in your home.
Of course, not every increase in energy consumption is a sign of damage to your home. There are some very simple things you can take into account to decide whether you want to investigate an increase in your bills. You should worry about your high energy bills when:
There’s No Change in Your Habits
This is perhaps the most obvious sign that something is wrong. If your bills have started to increase despite your general habits remaining the same, there are only a few things that can be at work. First, there is the chance that the basic cost of energy has changed. You can check with your provider to find out if this is the case.
If the cost of energy has not changed and your behavior is consistent, you should investigate further. In this case, the most likely cause of this sudden and inexplicable spike in energy usage is a result of damage or inefficiencies in your property.
There Are No Seasonal Factors
Kansas City, Moberly, St. Louis, and Springfield, MO, can have very hot summers and very cold winters. This will increase energy usage. If you feel that your energy costs have increased disproportionately, however, you should try to compare your costs with previous years that have had similar conditions. Remember that you will have to account for the cost of energy in those years, which may have changed over time.
As such, it is more efficient to wait until the climate returns to a more moderate state. Then you can consider if the cost of your bills also returns to a level you are accustomed to.
There Has Been No Change in Property Usage
If you have recently changed how often you are on your property or how many people are on your property, this can account for changes in your energy costs. If you have started to work from home, for example, this will impact your utility bills. However, if your energy bills rise despite the fact that you have not changed your property usage, you should start investigating for signs of damage and deterioration.
Increase is Inconsistent with Expected Changes
Finally, there are always going to be fluctuations in your energy usage and bills throughout the year. Summertime may see increases, for example, when children are at home, and winter will see an increase in heating costs. Once you have lived in a property for an extended period of time, you will get an idea of what is normal for your home. If you feel that something is not right, you should contact a professional to investigate. It is better to be safe than sorry, after all.
There are a number of problems and issues that can cause your energy bills to rise or fluctuate quite wildly. Some of these issues are relatively easy to fix, while others can be more serious in nature. As such, it is a good idea to investigate inexplicably high energy bills as soon as possible.
What Can Cause High Energy Bills
Broadly speaking, there are two things that can cause a property’s energy consumption to increase suddenly: structural damage and appliance deterioration. Within these two categories, however, there are a number of different possibilities.
The stack effect is a process by which air continually flows through your home as a result of there being entry/exit points at the top and bottom of your home. For example, in winter when your heating is on, the stack effect will cause warm air to rise and exit your home at the top-most level while drawing in cold air at the bottom of your property. In summer, the process can be reversed.
The stack effect is a symptom of property damage or vulnerability. While most properties have ventilation options in their roof, there should not be gaps around your foundation. As such, the most common cause of the stack effect in a home is damage to a property’s crawl space. Uncovered crawl space vents will also contribute to this issue.
Dampness and humidity are common problems across Missouri, and they can present real challenges for a home. From mold and mildew to wood rot and damage to furnishings, dampness and humidity are arguably the most worrying issue a home can have. What most people don’t realize is that they can cause an increase in energy consumption. This is because humid air is harder to heat and cool than arid air.
Interior leaks are one of the most common causes of dampness and they are doubly damaging to your energy efficiency. This is because leaks in your plumbing system or attached appliances can also cause your water heater to have to work harder to provide you with as much hot water as you need.
Your HVAC system and plumbing appliances are the systems that have the most impact on your property’s energy usage. As such, appliances and systems that are damaged or out of date will increase your energy bills, sometimes quite dramatically.
Of course, all appliances have a lifespan. Once they have passed this point, they are likely to deteriorate in efficiency. Likewise, older models are less energy efficient as a matter of fact.
Updating or repairing your heating and air conditioning systems will increase your energy efficiency and keep your bills low.
Foundation damage is a serious problem in any property. Foundation repair can be expensive, after all. Structural damage to the foundation of your property is most commonly caused by unstable, weak, or expansive soils. One of the most common side effects of foundation damage is an increase in dampness and humidity throughout a property. This will have a long-term effect on your energy bills.
This is because of the way foundation cracks let water seep up into a property from the ground below.
Non-Encapsulated Crawl Space
A non-encapsulated crawl space is guaranteed to make your property less energy efficient. That’s because of its inability to effectively retain heat or cold, but also because of its vulnerability to dampness and flooding. Crawl spaces that have uncovered vents are the most vulnerable, but even a crawl space with covered vents will have an impact on your property.
Of course, you can only deal with these kinds of problems if you are able to spot the warning signs and act upon them. You could wait until you see incredibly high energy bills, but by this point, the damage is likely to be entrenched. Instead, it is far better to nip issues in the bud before they reach this extent.
Problem Signs to Watch For
If you want to protect your home from avoidable damage, it is imperative that you learn to read the warning signs quickly and effectively. Here are the most common warning signs of damage to your property:
If you see cracks spreading actively through your property’s floors or walls, this is a warning sign that you should not ignore. There are some cracks that are no reason to worry, of course. Stable hairline cracks, for example, are a perfectly normal part of the settling process. If you see broad, deep cracks that seem to be seeping water, however, you should act immediately.
General dampness and humidity can be caused by many issues and will have many effects on your property. This makes it a notoriously vague warning sign. Despite this, you should never ignore the sudden presence of dampness; while it could be caused by a simple, uncovered crawl space vent, it could also be the result of more serious issues, like foundation damage. You can recognize dampness in your property via signs like condensation and standing water around your crawl space or other areas.
If you see cosmetic damage like bubbling wallpaper, staining, or peeling paint around your property (and there is no obvious cause), you should call a professional immediately. There could be a very simple issue at work, but there is also a chance that there is a very serious form of damage in your home. Mold and mildew are also forms of cosmetic damage, but they can have more serious impacts on your health. This is especially dangerous to people who have underlying health conditions.
If you notice drafts in unusual areas of your home, or you feel that the temperatures in your home are unstable and regularly fluctuating, it is time to contact a professional and have your home assessed. There is a number of things that can cause the temperatures in your home to change like this, and this process will increase your energy bills.
This is not a comprehensive list of problem signs, but these are red flags that indicate the kind of problems that can lead to high energy bills in your home. If you see any of these signs around your home, especially if you see more than one in the same area, you should prioritize a professional investigation.
This is the best way to ensure you will get to the bottom of the issue and find a solution that will provide you with permanent and effective results. By repairing the damage that is found and investing in some small improvements to your home’s waterproofing and insulation, you will not only reverse the increase in your energy bills. You can even lower them below the point that you were used to. As you can see, getting the right kind of help could make all the difference to your home.
High Energy Bills
Dampness and humidity in your property can have many different impacts on your home and your life. The most obvious side effects are damage to your home and potential health concerns. What most people don’t realize is that dampness can increase your energy bills.
Damp Air is Hard to Process
Whatever the cause of dampness and humidity in your home, an increase in energy bills is inevitable to some degree. This is mostly to do with how humid air reacts to the process of being heated or cooled. Humid air is actually harder to condition than arid air and is harder to regulate in a consistent manner.
This means your HVAC system has to work harder to provide you with the results that you are used to. Even then, it will most likely be inconsistent, leading you to turn the heat up or down further than you usually would. This will directly cause your energy consumption to increase and will lead to an uptick in your energy costs.
Inefficient Appliances Contribute
It is important to remember, however, that your energy costs could also be increasing because of the factors that are causing both dampness and humidity. Damaged or inefficient appliances (for example, leaking water heaters or a damaged sump pump) could increase levels of dampness and humidity in your home as well as drawing more energy from your home. This would essentially cause energy bills to rise.
This is not always caused by damage to an appliance, of course. Age can also be a factor. Older water heaters, sump pumps, and HVAC systems are less energy-efficient than newer models as a rule of thumb. As they age, their power consumption is likely to increase as a result of wear and tear and a general decrease in efficiency.
Keeping your energy bills low can be a matter of changing your habits, but there are also times when an investment into your property can help you to save money in the long run.
One of the best things you can do to increase energy efficiency in your property is to preserve and maintain the heat or cold created by your property’s HVAC system. This will lower energy usage directly by ensuring that your heating or air conditioning systems do not have to continually process new air. The best way to do this is to invest in effective insulation for your whole property. This means looking at insulation for your roof, walls, and crawl space.
Most properties have some form of insulation in place already, but this insulation is not always the most effective. Insulation also deteriorates with age, which can make it less effective. As such, updating or replacing insulation that has ceased to be effective can be an excellent way to improve your property’s energy efficiency. This can lower your energy bills almost immediately.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
Because dampness contributes directly to an increase in energy consumption and costs, encapsulating your crawl space is an excellent way to reduce your energy costs (and prevent avoidable damage to your property). Professional crawl space encapsulation is an incredibly flexible process that can be tailored to suit your property’s needs and address its current condition.
Crawl space encapsulation is also a relatively cost-effective process that offers long-term solutions. The most common encapsulation processes include crawl space vent cover installation, vapor barrier installation, and the installation of a dehumidifier and/or interior drainage system and a sump pump. These products help keep dampness out of your crawl space and remove leaking water in your home.
We do not recommend that you try to waterproof and encapsulate your crawl space alone, especially if you have existing structural issues or water damage. There are simply too many things that could go wrong and cause more damage to your home.
The Downsides of DIY
While DIY can save you money in some cases, we never recommend trying DIY where there is structural damage at work. This is partly because of the nature of structural damage (which destabilizes an entire property), but also because of the likelihood of co-occurring issues as a result of the damage and dampness that plague crawl spaces with these issues.
If you try to tackle this issue alone, there is a very high chance that you could cause more damage to your home, or even end up experiencing injury as a result of DIY gone wrong. If there is mold in your home, for example, trying to encapsulate an affected area without the right tool and protective gear could have serious implications for your health.
Professionals Get the Right Results
Professionals are simply better equipped to deal with the structural repairs and restorations that are often needed in crawl spaces that are dealing with issues caused by exposure to the elements. By dealing with these issues, they will make it possible to safely and fully waterproof your crawl space to prevent further avoidable damage from occurring.
Likewise, professionals have access to the best materials and products, some of which may not be readily available through the average hardware store. This is, of course, because they have access to professional supplyies and can buy directly from the manufacturer when needed. This is also why professional services tend to be less expensive in a proportional, long-term sense!
Call in the Professionals Without Delay
Foundation Recovery Systems has been helping property owners across Missouri keep their properties safe, dry, and efficient since 1992. Our team of skilled experts is made up of people from all areas of the construction industry. This is why we are widely considered to be the state’s foremost experts in foundation and crawl space repair.
If you are concerned about the cost of your energy bills, you have noticed a sudden increase in your bills, or you have noticed damage in your home, please contact us right away. We offer free inspection appointments to all homeowners in our service area. These come with no obligation to book repairs and will include a written estimate for all our suggested repairs.