We’ve all been there. In the spring, we get our first slew of energy bills demonstrating just how much we used our heating systems over the winter months. You’re expecting it to be maybe a little bit higher than the norm—it is winter after all—and depending on where you live in the United States, that can involve cold winds and rainy nights, or sub-zero temperatures and several feet of snow. Either way, the only thermal comfort that you’re likely to get is from the home, sitting close to the fireplace or the radiators.

However, upon reading the utility bills you notice that something isn’t right. Yes, you turned the thermostat up, but surely not to the point that the amount of energy used is costing you an arm and a leg. The home’s cooling system has been switched off, so surely that would counteract the higher heating system use. You know that thermal comfort didn’t use anywhere near the amount that your bill suggests and yet there it is. So, ask yourself, does your home have poor energy efficiency, and if it does, what can be done about it?

My thermostat is high, my bills are high, so why am I so cold?

Poor cooling performance and indoor comfort are normally an indicator of one thing: something has gone wrong with your HVAC system. HVAC, which stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, is a collection of appliances and systems within the home that are intended to keep the temperature at a comfortable level, and without the presence of humidity. The HVAC system is very symbiotic in its makeup–the furnace (or water boiler) heats up and releases hot water into the pipes around the home, which travel through the central heating. This in turn warms up the air, when is kept fresh by the ventilation keeping warm air in but adding clean air from outside. It is also kept free of moisture by the air conditioning (AC) unit.

The reason your HVAC system is using more energy than it should is when something goes wrong, as one or more components are over-compensating for the other. If there is a leak in the pipes, which releases moisture into the air, then the heating is going to be working much harder heat up the room, as the radiators will be heating both the air and the water in it which takes much more energy. This is also a similar problem encountered if the AC unit is broken, as moisture will not be removed from the air and the temperature will either be too high and the indoor air quality will be much too humid. So if you notice discomfort and poor cooling, then get the Indoor Air Quality Medics to check it out!

Why a sweat should be a cause for concern.

If you are the type of person who is always looking to make the most of your kitchen space, then you’ll no doubt know the importance of good ventilation. Heated moisture becomes humidity, and humidity is a breeding ground for bad bacteria and viruses. Aside from booking AC repair if you are noticing that you are sweating in rooms that you’re supposed to be relaxed in, double-check your vents and make sure they aren’t blocked. The air temperature should be warm, but more importantly, it should be dry. Aside from the discomfort, humidity is not good for your health and requires immediate attention. Remember, cold air can become humid too. It’s the air quality that you should focus on, not just the temperature.

It’s all a balancing act.

That being said, completely dry indoor air isn’t good during the winter either, so you have to use all components of your HVAC system to find a balance. That means using them all in a moderate setting. However, if you have fixed or repaired any problems, then it shouldn’t be costing you a large amount of money, as less energy will be used. It is a good idea to keep on top of maintaining your HVAC however, as the costs of energy are skyrocketing and being energy efficient is the only way to spend less.