Many people assume that high heating bills are just something they must endure each winter.
However, there are ways to slash your heating bill by reducing energy waste. Don’t go another season without checking out these ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
1. Change the Furnace Air Filter
The purpose of your furnace’s air filter is to prevent debris from entering the system. When the filter becomes dirty, there are several negative effects. The most immediate repercussion of a clogged filter is reduced airflow into the furnace. This makes the furnace motor struggle harder to perform effectively and it will use more energy. In addition, a clogged filter becomes less adept at trapping debris. Dust will collect on the furnace’s inner parts, and this can cause a furnace breakdown, eventually.
Use the best filter for your system and inspect it monthly throughout the heating season. Homeowners who live in dusty areas often find they need to change filters every month, but your situation may be different.
For the best dust control, which also effects indoor air quality, choose pleated filters, which tend to be better overall than flat fiberglass mesh filters. Look also at the MERV rating, if it is available on the filter. This indicates the ability of the filter to trap particles. A high rating means the filter traps finer particles than a lower-rated filter. However, ask your technician which filter is best for your furnace. High-rated filters may also reduce airflow too much in some systems.
2. Set the Furnace Thermostat Wisely
You can save a lot of energy by simply turning your thermostat lower in winter when you do not need as much heat in the home. Examples include when you are away at work, at night when you are cozy in bed, when you have a fire going in the fireplace or when you are away for the holidays.
Most people can also get by with setting the temperature lower when they are at home. Wearing extra-warm clothing, opening the drapes in the afternoon to let sunlight warm the home and activities such as running a few loads of laundry through the dryer, running your dishwasher and baking can keep you feeling warmer.
Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat for even more energy efficiency. You can set these to adjust the temperature for different times of the day, different days of the week or for when you are on vacation. This eliminates cases such as forgetting to change the thermostat and heating the home too much while you are away or coming home to a chilly house. You can program the thermostat to bring the temperature up to your preferred setting an hour or so ahead of your arrival.
3. Properly Winterize Your Home
Many furnaces have to work extra hard to heat a home simply because the home is poorly sealed and lacks sufficient insulation. When warmth is able to escape from your home, the furnace has to keep running to bring the temperature up.
Weatherproof your windows and doors first, as this is usually where you will find the largest air leaks. Besides caulking and adding weather stripping, adding thick thermal curtains to windows will also keep heat inside where it belongs.
Next, look for air leaks around plumbing pipes coming into the home, electrical outlets and skylights. Any opening between your home and the outdoors allows heated air an escape route.
Make sure your attic insulation is sufficient. The attic is one of the most overlooked areas of a home, but problems here make a huge difference in energy efficiency of your heating system. Call a technician to come out for an attic inspection as soon as possible, preferably before cold weather hits. Most older homes do not have adequate attic insulation.
4. Schedule Furnace Maintenance Checkups
Malfunctioning furnaces are not efficient furnaces, no matter how new they are. The best way to make sure your furnace stays operating as it should is to call for maintenance visits from a qualified HVAC technician. These should be scheduled at least annually.
Many things occur during a maintenance visit. Your technician can answer your questions, clean dirty components that you cannot safely access, check the safety features, and make repairs.
5. Upgrade Your Old Furnace
Even when they are functioning well, old furnaces cannot match the energy savings of high-efficiency furnaces that are manufactured today. An investment you make right now can pay itself off in time financially through lower energy bills. You will also feel more comfortable, and your air quality should improve as these furnaces are designed better than any in the past. In some cases, you will qualify for rebates from the government or other incentives for choosing energy efficient furnaces such as those with an Energy Star label. It is best to plan for energy savings early in the fall before you have to use your furnace. However, any time is a good time to begin making energy-saving changes.
To learn more about improving energy-efficiency this winter, or to enquire about furnace maintenance plans, give us a call today!