As cooler temperatures begin to sweep the nation, homeowners are turning on their heat for the first time in months. With every degree increase on the thermostat, utility bills follow suit.
A warm, comfortable home shouldn’t cost you a small fortune. Luckily, there are some simple strategies from a Texas Home Inspector for combating the chill while lowering heating costs at the same time.
Change the filters
The summer and fall months are a prime time for airborne allergens and microbes, which can clog furnace filters and inhibit airflow. This makes your furnace work harder and in turn, costs you more. Change your filters monthly to help open airflow and save money.
Embrace the sun
Want to help heat your home for free during the winter? Pay attention to the sun. Try opening curtains on south-facing windows and the radiant heat from the sun will help naturally heat your home. Just remember to close them at night to keep out the evening chill.
Use a programmable thermostat
You can save up to 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by simply adjusting your thermostat 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Use a programmable thermostat to change the temperature for time periods you are sleeping or away from home. Some air conditioning systems can be controlled remotely through a smartphone app like “Smart AC,” which works seamlessly with LG duct-free systems, allowing the homeowners to wirelessly connect, control and monitor the temperature through an easy-to-use smartphone app.
Consider installing a duct-free mini-split system to provide zoned heating
Instead of moving air through ductwork as central heating and air conditioning systems do, duct-free systems deliver warm conditioned air directly into a room. Duct-free systems like those from LG provide high-performance zone heating, allowing homeowners to keep their bedrooms toasty warm at night when it’s frigid outside, while turning the heat down (or off!) in the rest of the home to help save energy.
Clear heat registers
One common mistake homeowners make is covering heat registers with furniture, toys or other items that block the heat flow. To improve heating efficiency, inspect all heat registers in your home and remove anything that’s blocking them.
Seal leaks and lock windows
Phantom heat loss is a huge energy drain. Test for leaks by using a flashlight to see if light filters through cracks or try pulling a dollar bill through. Then, seal air leaks around utility cut-throughs, chimneys and recessed lights with spray foam. Use caulk and weather stripping to seal windows and doorway drafts. Don’t forget to close and lock windows and doors. Locking pulls the components tight against the weather-stripping to block cold air from entering the home.
Consider installing an Energy Star certified heating system
Energy Star certified energy-efficient products provide superior performance while saving energy to help lessen the impact on the world around us. The EPA Energy Star program identifies heating and cooling products that are energy efficient and can save you money.
Use your fireplace wisely
The warmth and ambiance of a wood-burning fireplace are hard to beat on a chilly day. But to ensure you don’t lose valuable heat when the fireplace is not in use, always remember to close the damper when the fire is completely out.
Fill attic insulation
When was the last time you checked your attic’s insulation? Heat rises – so if you don’t have proper insulation in your attic, you’re losing money. Start by checking to make sure insulation is evenly spread throughout your attic. Then, visit energy.gov/energysaver/insulation to learn recommended insulation amounts for your region.
Lower your water heater temperature
Water heating accounts for about 18 percent of the energy consumed in your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Consider setting your water heater to a lower setting of 120 Fahrenheit and you’ll still enjoy hot showers without a utility bill that will scald you.
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