Why Your Heating Bill Just Jumped Despite Not Changing Your Heating Use

As utility prices have gone up over the past few years, monitoring your heating and cooling costs has become a must. While some yearly variation is expected, you can generally set guidelines that keep your power and fuel usage relatively stable. However, it's still possible for your bills to spike. If that happens, one of two things is going on. One you can't help, but the other is something for which you can take action.

Rising Costs

Double-check your bills for this month and the past few months. If you see a sudden increase in the price of fuel, or if your spouse suddenly tells you that heating oil prices rose right when your oil tank needed a refill, that's likely your problem. There's not much you can do except adjust your heating usage and see about replacing older appliances with newer, more efficient versions.

Something's Inefficient or Leaking

But if fuel prices are the same, that means there could be something wrong with your heating system or other systems that affect your bill. It could be that you have a fuel leak, a household energy leak, or an inefficient system that's slowly breaking down.

Fuel leaks are the most alarming because if you use heating oil or natural gas, then you have flammable materials leaking out of containment. If your heating relies on oil or gas, look for signs of a leak — and treat any leaks you find as an emergency. If you don't see (or smell, in the case of gas) evidence of a leak, that doesn't mean there isn't one, but there's more of a chance that you're OK in that regard.

It's also possible that your house has become inefficient in holding in warm air. Weatherstripping might have deteriorated, the house might have settled a bit and opened up some microscopic gaps, or something else may have changed that makes your house leak energy overall. You can have an energy audit done on your house and work on repairs from there.

Then there's the classic broken system. Your furnace might be failing, or another appliance might be about to break down. In this case, you need a heating repair person to inspect the system and find the heart of the problem.

If you can't find immediate evidence of a fuel leak, call a heating repair company and ask them to look over your heating system and other utility-linked appliances like stoves. Don't wait to do this as the problem is likely to get worse over time without action now.