As temperatures drop, heating expenses begin to rise. Most American households rely on natural gas, electricity, or a combination of the two to keep warm in the winter, and it isn’t always easy to budget for the costs. These tips help to lower bills without sacrificing comfort.
Clean and Replace Filters
Forced-air systems rely on filters to clean and circulate the air. Clogged, dirty filters cause the system to work harder, resulting in higher energy bills and unnecessary wear on the unit. Most filters require monthly replacement, although some offer three months between changes.
Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Consumer Reports recommends setting the temperature to 68 degrees Fahrenheit during waking hours and decreasing it to 60 degrees overnight. A programmable thermostat automatically takes care of these changes based on the user’s preset specifications. It also makes it easy and cost-efficient to schedule temperature changes to suit household activities, such as work or family vacations.
Take Advantage of Other Sources
Some routine tasks around the house, including cooking, drying clothes, and showering, generate warmth. Morning showers are great ways to boost overnight temperatures, and oven dinners allow homeowners to turn down thermostats early without losing significant amounts of heat.
Warm Up With Sunshine
When it is available, sunlight is an excellent home heating source. Homeowners who open their blinds and curtains during the day usually run their furnaces less often than those who keep their blinds closed. Covering windows as the sun goes down helps to retain the warmth into the evening.
Weatherproof Doors and Windows
As a house ages, tiny cracks and holes often create drafts that result in heat loss. It is not uncommon for a household to waste up to one-quarter of its energy through unseen air leaks. Weather strips minimize loss, and installation is fairly simple. Homeowners can also schedule professional tests to detect other leaks and losses.
Inspect Insulation Levels
Adequate insulation plays a big role in preventing heat loss. Fiberglass and rock wool insulation should be at least 11 inches thick, and cellulose varieties typically sit at least eight inches deep. Homes with wall insulation often retain more warmth than structures with just attic material, and air-sealing a house deliver even more protection.
Reverse the Ceiling Fans
The usual counterclockwise movement of a ceiling fan generates a cooling breeze that is ideal for summer. When winter temperatures take over, it’s time to reverse the direction. As the blades move clockwise, warm air residing near the ceiling circulates downwards and replaces the cool air below it so that the furnace kicks in less often.
Schedule a Maintenance Checkup
Regular maintenance keeps a heating system operating at peak efficiency. Inspections should be performed annually, preferably before the arrival of cold weather. Qualified service technicians examine, clean, and test key components of the system, tighten connections, and clean out the drain lines as part of the inspection. When repairs are inevitable, homeowners with older heating systems often consider upgrading to a newer, more efficient model.