- Tyler Paul
Simple Tips for Home Heating Efficiency
Everyone wants to save some cash, especially during the holiday season coming up and with all the weirdness and uncertainty with the Covid. I thought I would take a few minutes to look at a couple simple things that you as a homeowner can do that can help save you some money on home heating energy bills and increase your comfort.
Caveat, some of you reading this may be in Arizona or Texas or other like places where your home might not benefit quite as much as mine will in Colorado during the winter. Consider these ideas anyhow and evaluate your own needs.
Heat your home
A good deal of the energy used in homes goes toward heating in the winter. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating system:
Replace air filters on your heating system. Furnaces have air filters that are designed to be replaced (or cleaned in some cases). Those filters not only help to clean the air that is blown through your home that you are breathing, but the filters are also designed to protect your furnace. A dirty filter can make it difficult for the furnace to get the air that it needs and create additional strain on the system, as well as added energy cost to get the same efficiency as a system with a clean filter. Filters are pretty cheap and generally easy to replace. This is an easy one.
Set your thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Consider having the temperature turned lower at times when people aren’t home and also in the evening when people are sleeping. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70° F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
Install a programmable thermostat to make changing your temperature needs automatic. There are plenty of affordable options, as well as some neat units that can be adjusted on your smartphone and are said to “learn”.
You’ve heated the air, now keep it. Seal and insulate your home to keep the heated air that you paid to have created by your heating system. This is one of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more energy-efficient and comfortable. These things are also easy to do yourself.
Check the weather-stripping around your door. Weather-stripping and door sweeps are easy to install and are very affordable. There are a lot of doors out there that are inadequate in this regard or don’t shut properly to take advantage of what is there. Fix this or the heat will just “walk right out of the door”.
Check your windows for gaps or proper insulation. Windows that aren’t properly sealed when they are shut may let your warm air out. Some windows are great at holding out the cold. Some older homes, like mine, don’t always do well. Consider sealing up the window with the plastic film insulation kit. I’ve used these for years and I feel like I always see a noticeable difference, at least until the stickiness wears off and it starts to peel off. Anyhow, that film is also quite affordable and will likely save you some cash.
Gaps and drafts will be found all around the home in other places. You can seal off some of these simply, depending on the situation, with some expanding spray foam, caulk, or sometimes just a spare blanket or towel. Some common places for leakage are: electrical receptacles/outlets, mail slots, air conditioner openings, baseboards, window frames, and under cabinetry. I’m not saying completely seal up a fireplace damper to stop a draft (because you shouldn’t), but be aware of the potential heat losses in places that we don’t always see. Be smart in what you are doing so to avoid causing damage or putting yourself in danger.
Quick free tip, keeping your curtains closed during cold times can also help insulate from heat loss, especially at night. We like to open them up during the day to let in the sun's warmth.
With minimal effort and low cost, you can make some good changes that will benefit your family, your home, and your pocketbook.