Starting to feel the chill in the air? Prepare for the cold winter ahead by implementing money-saving energy tips now. From drafty windows to inefficient heating systems, there are many components in your home that can contribute to rising energy bills. Take the following steps to reduce your energy usage this winter while keeping your family cozy and warm.
1. Get a Professional Tune Up
Like all mechanical systems, HVAC systems must be properly maintained. Before winter weather strikes, hire a professional to complete a thorough tune-up of your heating system. An inspection can be performed to check for any signs of problems before they get worse. If any problems are found, have your heating system repaired. Most issues can be inexpensively fixed, such as changing a rubber belt that has developed cracks over years of use. If your heating unit has surpassed its life expectancy or requires repairs that meet or exceed the cost of a new unit, it may be time to replace your heater.
2. Upgrade to Energy Star
Approximately half of the energy used in your home goes to cooling and heating. In addition to tuning up your HVAC equipment on a yearly basis, you may want to consider upgrading to a modern Energy Star unit. HVAC equipment that is more than 10 years old is likely not working at peak capacity. This can result in inefficient heating, cold spots in your home, and high energy bills.
There are a variety of technologies available to heat your home, ranging from furnaces and boilers to other heating options like pellet and wood heaters, heat pumps, and active solar heating. Most homes in the U.S. are heated with either boilers or furnaces. Boilers heat water and provide either steam or hot water for heating. Furnaces heat air and distribute the heated air through the home’s air ducts.
3. Keep It Clean
Your household’s comfort and safety depends upon the proper care and maintenance of your HVAC system. Start by changing your air filters on a regular basis, preferably every 90 days if you have no pets or every 30 to 60 days if you do have a cat or dog. Individuals with allergies may need to change their home’s air filter as often as twice a month to keep allergens to a minimum.
Before winter, hire a professional to thoroughly clean your heating unit. Most heat pumps rely on outdoor compressor units to exchange air from hot to cold. To complete their job properly, these units must remain clear of debris. Remove any plants, shrubs, or leaves from around the outdoor unit. A professional technician can also inspect and clean indoor units to help them work at their best, resulting in higher energy savings.
4. Turn Down the Heat
Turning down your thermostat is an easy way to save money on your energy bills. For every degree you turn down your thermostat, you can save between one and three percent on your heating bill. Of course, you do not need to sacrifice your comfort to save money on your energy bills this winter.
Start by layering on more clothing during the day. Wear long sleeve shirts and sweaters to keep warm and cozy. Cuddle with blankets while watching TV. Changing the direction of your ceiling fan can also make it feel warmer in your home, even after you turn the thermostat down. In the winter, rotate fan blades clockwise to push warm air down.
5. Install a New Thermostat
Programmable thermostats can help you save money on your energy bills by only keeping your home at an optimal temperature when you are home. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature higher when you are home and lower when you are not. This helps you avoid wasting money on energy when you are at work or out of the house for several hours each day.
You can also program your thermostat to automatically lower at night while you are asleep. If you go on vacation, you can program your thermostat to remain at a lower temperature using controls such as “hold”. If you have zoned heating in your home, you may also want to install a programmable thermostat in each zone to achieve maximum energy savings.
6. Insulate Your Home
You can significantly reduce your home’s heating costs this winter by properly insulating and sealing your home. Newer homes are generally better insulated than older homes as they meet stricter energy codes. However, even homes built today are not always insulated as well as they could be.
When insulating your home, you have the choice of several types of insulation. You can also choose where in your home you want to insulate, such as in the attic to prevent heat from exiting through the roof. It is a good idea to have insulation installed by a professional to ensure that the job is done correctly.
7. Complete an Energy Audit
Hire a professional to complete an energy audit in your home. Professional energy assessments often go into great detail about your home’s overall energy use and what repairs and maintenance tasks you can do to improve your energy efficiency and lower your heating bills.
Before an energy auditor arrives, make a list of existing problems in your home, such as drafty rooms or condensation. An auditor can use this information to look for problems inside and outside your home. Walk through each room of your home with the auditor to help uncover sources of energy loss.
Cold winter weather can have a major impact on your home’s energy usage. If you are experiencing problems with your HVAC unit or simply want to ensure that your heating system is working at peak capacity, R. Brooks can help. Serving Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, our team of HVAC experts have the training and experience needed to install, repair, or maintain your heating system to achieve maximum energy savings. Contact us online or by phone today for a free estimate.