Easy Heating Savings Tips With BIG Payoffs
These heating savings tips are easy and inexpensive (or free)to apply and will have a measurable impact on your savings. Wherever possible, I have also included information on where to purchase the product:
Efficient Operation - Heating and air conditioning (AC) are the largest energy users in homes. Increasing the efficiency of your heating/AC systems is the most effective way to save money and reduce your home's contribution to climate change.
If you are buying a new furnace or boiler, compare prices and efficiencies of the systems. The higher the efficiency the greater the savings. While the price of the high-efficiency system will be higher, there are frequently rebates from federal, and local governments, and utilities that bring down the price dramatically. That factored with the money saved from reduced energy use makes the system pay back for itself in months or very short number of years. In the U.S., look for the ENERGY STAR label for heating and AC systems and appliances.
Thermostat Settings - one the main heating savings tips is to have the right temperature settings in your home.
The recommended thermostat settings for winter are 68 degrees F during the day and 60 degrees F at night and when no one is home.
The recommended thermostat settings for summer are 75 degrees F during the day and 80 degrees F at night and even higher when no one is home.
A word of caution - if you set you temperature very high during the day when you are not home, it is best to turn your AC on later in the evening to not overtax your AC, since it will be cooler in the evening than during the day. The AC will work less to drop the temperature say, from 80 degrees F at sunset than from 90 degrees F during the day.
Make a written note of these settings on a sheet of paper and tape it next to or hidden behind the thermostat for quick reference. Each degree difference in these setpoints can increase energy use by three percent - Definitely helps to reduce heating costs.
Programmable Thermostat -I use this as a separate heating savings tip, because setting the thermostat temperature is a free heating savings tip. Unless you are very vigilant and actively setting your thermostat at different times of the day, install a programmable thermostat and program it to turn down the heat at night and when no one is home - and then forget about it.
Lowering the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can save you up to 15 percent a year on your heating bill. This heating savings tip can easily save over $100 per year.
Click here for Programmable Thermostats
Inspection - Every fall, have your heating system cleaned and inspected by a qualified contractor. Diagnostic tools used by contractors easily detect issues with burners, heat exchangers, carbon monoxide levels, etc.
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Clean Air Passages - A simple and efficient heating tip: Keep Registers and warm-air vents clean.
Also, you can redirect conditioned air by using vent and register covers to close off areas that are not occupied. click here for vent and exhaust magnetic covers
Trapped Air - If you have a hot-water heating system such as a boiler, release any trapped air from radiators. If you have hot water baseboards, an easy way to release the air is by connecting a hose to the boiler water outlet and "flushing" the system out.
Pipe Insulation - Wrapping insulation on hot-water pipes that pass through unheated spaces is very inexpensive, easy and can reduce heating costs by about 10%. For steam pipes, use non-foam insulation, as foam can melt.click to buy pipe insulation.
Inspect Ducts - Inspect hot-air ducts to make sure there are no gaps or discontinuities in the connections. Also ensure adequate air flow to eliminate any losses of heated air. If there are discontinuities, reconnect and seal ducts using mastic or ultraseal.
Duct Insulation - Along the same line, wrap insulation on any hot-air ducts that pass through unheated spaces - that's another 5-10% savings on heating bills.
click here for duct insulation products
Filter Replacement - Clean or replace filters for your hot-air furnace and heat-pump every month (or when your filter is clogged 50%) during the heating season. This heating savings tip is very important for adequate and clean air flow. You can also use filters made to run six to 12 months before needing replacement or ones that can be cleaned and reused; more expensive, but less maintenance.
click here for re-usable natural fiber air filters
One way to know when to replace your filter is by installing a handy device that costs about $2, called filter whistlers. click to buy
Reflectors - Radiators can lose heat into exterior walls. Reduce this loss by placing reflectors between the wall and the radiator. click to buy
Heat Flow - This may sound obvious as heating savings tips go, but just to cover the bases, keep drapes or furniture away from radiators and baseboard heaters so heat can flow freely.
Unused Rooms - Close doors and warm-air vents in unused rooms, but be careful of freezing water pipes that could burst in cold weather. If you do have water pipes going through that space, and there is a valve from the main controlling flow to that space, drain the pipe and shut the valve to that space (or have a valve installed).
Also make sure your pipes are insulated. For a variety of pipe insulation products please click to buy
Air Conditioners - Remove window air conditioners when the weather gets cool. keeping them in is a close second to heating the outdoors. If you can't, then seal around the edges where the window meets the AC with tape (I have used packing tape in the past effectively), and cover the entire window with a window insulating kit or an exterior insulated AC cover.
If you would like a more "streamlined" look, try an air-conditioner cover that fits snugly on the inside of the unit. Click to see a selection of AC covers, weathersealing, and exhaust fan magnetic covers
Maintain Humidity Levels - Use an efficient humidifier, especially if you have a hot air system (furnace) to maintain comfortable humidity levels and help you conserve heat. Proper humidity creates a feeling of comfort and warmth without needing to turn up the heat. Caveat - Make sure that all air and humidity is adequately vented out of the house through unblocked attic vents, and by adequate air circulation, otherwise you will have moisture issues.
EFI provides a great selection of reasonably priced whole-house or local ventilation systems. Click here and go to Ventilation on the Navigation bar on the left
Ceiling Fans - Use ceiling fans to circulate warm air in winter, especially in rooms with high ceilings. If you have ceiling fans, you can do this simply by reversing the rotation of the blades (there is usually a switch or pull-chord on the fan). As an alternative heating savings tip, you can install the small low power fans that mount to the corner of door openings to circulate air from one room to the other.
EFI provides a great selection of reasonably priced circulation fans. Click here and go to Ventilation on the Navigation bar on the left
Window-Insulating Kits or Film - Another inexpensive (but tedious) heating savings tip is to use indoor window insulation kits or film to cover the windows, after having properly caulked and sealed gaps. The are many brands available to choose from.
EFI provides a great selection of very inexpensive window insulation and air-sealing products. Click here and go to Insulation on the Navigation bar on the left
Also, check window insulation in this website for several other methods to improve the efficiency of older windows.
Curtains - This is also a no-brainer, especially for south-facing windows. If your windows are well-insulated, open the curtains on sunny days in the winter months and close them at night to keep the heat in. Use heavy fabric for the curtains and preferably insulated.
There are many simple do-it-yourself "instructions" for making insulated curtains, shades, or shutters. You can even make or convert a quilt to serve as curtains. OR, you can simply order them to match your decor and budget. Also remember that your northern facing windows will be the coldest ones, so keep those well sealed and covered during the cold season.
again, check the window insulation section in this website for several other methods to improve the efficiency of older windows.
Install an Outdoor Air Reset control on your boiler - This is an elegant heating savings tip that has been standard in commercial applications, and should also become standard in homes that use boiler heating systems.
Your boiler is designed to operate at a high temperature to match your home’s heat loss on the coldest day of the year. But Most areas in North America have less than 10 days in a year that actually require these high temperature settings.
Install a controller on your boiler, where the system monitors the outdoor air temperature with a sensor. When a space thermostat requests heat, the controller adjusts the amount of energy/heat needed.
There is much less waste because the circulating boiler water takes advantage of the mild temperatures outside by operating at lower temperatures to match your heating needs, saving you fuel, and improving comfort.
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