It is that time of year again when colder air can force us to turn on our furnaces to keep our homes warm and comfortable. Yet, heating costs have been on the rise for the past several years and are expected to increase this year again too. If you are looking for ways to cut your home heating costs this winter, you will want to use one or more of the following great tips!
Tip #1: Schedule Heater Maintenance Service
It is a good idea to have your furnace or electric heater inspected by a qualified HVAC technician. Heater maintenance service will ensure everything is in working order and the unit is outputting heat the most efficiently. Well-maintained furnaces use less energy than units that have not been serviced.
If there are potential problems with your heater, you can have those inspected and fixed, as well as any of the parts and components, now. The last thing you want to worry about is having to call an emergency HVAC technician because your furnace stopped working on the coldest day of the winter.
Tip #2: Change Your Air Filters
Depending on the type of heating and air conditioning installation you have, you could have more than one air filter on your system. For packaged systems, where the heater and AC are both contained outdoors, you normally just have the air filter in the return air vent.
For split systems, where the AC unit is outdoors and the furnace indoors, there could be an air filter next to the furnace unit that is part of the blower and another in the return air vent. If you are unsure where to look for your air filters or need help changing them, call your furnace maintenance HVAC technician.
A dirty air filter makes it harder for your furnace to get air. It will cause the unit to run harder and hotter and use more energy to keep your home heated. Dirty filters also shorten the lifespan of your heating system. A clean filter allows the air to flow correctly and helps keep heating costs down.
Tip #3: Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat
If you take advantage of the holiday shopping season, you can pick up a new smart thermostat on sale. After you get your thermostat, contact your furnace installation technician to have them install it for you. There are different wires and wiring configurations. You need to make sure to use the right one. Otherwise, your furnace and AC may not turn on.
With a smart thermostat, you can create different heating schedules that will help reduce your heating costs. For example, you could have your home set a few degrees lower during the day when everyone is at work and school.
Then you could have it automatically turn back up about 15 minutes before getting home, so you arrive to warm comfort. At night, after going to bed, you could have another schedule that reduces the thermostat back down, and then have it turn back up shortly before waking in the morning.
Tip #4: Get a Humidifier
If you do not have a humidifier, you want to get one and use it this winter. Winter air tends to be dry with little humidity. This is why we get chapped hands and lips. Dry air also helps promote the spread of viruses and bacterial infections like colds and the flu.
By increasing the amount of humidity in the home to around 40 to 50%, you can address these skin and health concerns. In addition, using the humidifier also makes your home feel warmer, so you can turn down your thermostat a few degrees and save even more on your heating bills this winter.
Talk to your furnace maintenance technician about humidifiers for your home and getting a humidistat to measure the amount of humidity in your home. The humidistat also controls when the humidifier runs. There are some humidifier models that can be attached to your furnace so when it runs the humidifier also runs, and it adds the required humidity throughout the rooms in your home.
Tip #5: Have Your Ducts Sealed and Cleaned
Air duct leaks can allow heated air to escape and cold air into the ducts. When the furnace kicks on, that cold air is blown into the rooms in your home. Having your furnace repair technician seal your air ducts will stop the cold air from getting in and lower your heating costs.
Plus, air leaks draw in dust and dirt and blow it around the home. If you notice your home gets dusty fairly quickly, chances are you have air duct leaks that need to be sealed. Cleaning your air ducts after they are sealed helps remove excess dust, which keeps your air filter cleaner longer.
Tip #6: Reverse the Direction of Ceiling Fans
If you have ceiling fans in your home, you want to move them from “summer” mode to “winter” mode. On most models, it just requires sliding the switch on the ceiling fan housing up or down. To verify your ceiling fans are turning in the right direction, they should be moving clockwise.
The best way to see which way they are moving is to turn the fan on, lie down on the floor and look up at the fan. Clockwise means the same direction a clock’s hands turn, so the blades should be spinning in this same direction. If not, turn the fan off, wait for the blades to stop moving, flip the switch, and turn the fan back on.
Running ceiling fans in “winter” mode helps push the hot air from on top of the ceiling and recirculates it back into the room. This also helps make rooms more evenly heated and feel warmer. You could even turn down the thermostat a few degrees because you will feel warmer.
Tip #7: Improve the Insulation in Your Home
One of the biggest heat losses in homes is insufficient insulation. Most home builders only install the minimum insulation required for building codes, which is insufficient to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer.
There are different ways to add more insulation to the walls of your home, such as having small holes drilled in key locations and blowing in loose insulation. Spray foam insulation is another option that fills in all open spaces inside the walls. Spray foam can also be a good choice for improving insulation around windows and sealing air leaks.
For attics, adding insulation is much easier, as you just apply new insulation on top of the existing insulation. For homes in the south, you want to make sure the insulation in the attic has an R-value between R-44 and R-49. As a general rule, one inch of insulation in the attic has about an R-3 rating, so you would want about 16 to 18 inches of insulation in the attic to maximize your home heating and cooling energy savings.
Don’t forget to improve the insulation in exterior doors. If you have a hollow metal door, consider upgrading it to one that has a core inside. The core helps better insulate the home and keeps it warmer. Make sure to apply weather-stripping around doors if you notice air leaks.
One area homeowners tend to overlook when adding more insulation is their garages. Even though you may not heat your garage, it can still get rather cold and cause your furnace to run more often due to the heat-loss transfer as the cold air gets into the home and heat is lost into the garage.
Insulating your garage helps reduce this heat-loss transfer and lowers your heating costs. You can also upgrade to an insulated garage door or purchase insulation panels and install these behind the existing door.
Tip #8: Get New Furnace Installation
If your furnace is getting older and nearing the end of its lifespan, it will cost more to operate and heat your home. Getting a new furnace installation could be the best solution to reducing your heating bills this winter. Your furnace repair technician can help you decide when it is best to get a new furnace.
To schedule furnace maintenance, repair, or to get a quote for a new furnace installation in Houston and Katy, please feel free to contact MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning at 281-994-6698 today!
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