With wintertime fully setting in, you’re probably dealing with rising utility bills and the stress that they bring about. Now is a great time to think of ways to lower your energy consumption and increase energy efficiency in your home. Even in the brutal cold of the Midwest, there are ways you can reduce your heating use and lower your energy bills. Some of these methods are relatively simple and take a simple step or two. Other energy-efficiency methods require help from a trusted HVAC technician. Read on to find out more on how to save money this winter.
HVAC System Maintenance and Tune-Up
The most crucial part of keeping your heating costs down is an energy-efficient furnace. Having a furnace in top condition can lower your heating bills dramatically. Annual HVAC maintenance and tune-ups are necessary to keep your furnace running as efficiently as possible. For this, hire a professional HVAC technician to run down the checklist of your furnace maintenance, which includes the following:
Change or Clean Air Filter
Your furnace filter stops dust and dirt from entering your furnace. A full or clogged furnace air filter causes your furnace to work harder to force air through the ducts. This filter should be replaced or cleaned at least once a year. In addition to energy efficiency, a clean air filter helps you keep a clean home and provides healthier indoor air.
Lubricate Moving Parts
Your furnace consists of many moving parts. As these parts move, they create friction. An HVAC technician should lubricate these parts to reduce the wear and tear caused by friction. Leaving these parts to grind against other parts can lead to excessive wear and damage, leaving your furnace working harder or even contributing to the failure of the unit entirely.
Inspect Electrical and Gas Connections
Your furnace runs on electricity and perhaps gas. If the connections powering your heating unit are damaged, loose, or otherwise faulty, you may have insufficient or no heat. During your annual maintenance, the HVAC technician will inspect these connections for damage and excessive wear. In addition, faulty electrical and gas connections may lead to safety hazards such as shock, fire, and explosion. For the best safety and efficiency, always trust this job to a professional.
Use Programmable Thermostat
Your home does not need to be heated to a comfortable temperature when you are away. Likewise, you can lower the thermostat by several degrees while you sleep at night. Use a programmable thermostat to set your temperature during periods when you don’t need as much heat. You can set the heating unit to return to a comfortable temperature when you arrive home or wake up in the morning. This programming allows your furnace to take a bit of a break and lowers your heating bill.
Seal Off Unused Rooms
You may have rooms in your house that you do not use often or at all. During the winter, you can shut these rooms off to conserve heat. Close the vents in the unused room, allowing heat to flow more to other vents. Close the door to the room, keeping the cooler air inside and warmer air out. Heating unused areas of the house leads to wasted energy and unnecessary heating costs.
Utilize the Sunlight
The sun can still be your friend in the wintertime even if it is frigid outside. Open your curtains or blinds in the morning to let the sunlight in. This sunlight gives a little extra heat to the inside of your house. In the evening, after the sun goes down, close the blinds or curtains to shield against the cold.
Seal Windows and Doors
Older homes are prone to drafts. If you have doors or windows that are old or not sealed well, you may want to consider adding an extra layer of protection against the cold. Use plastic around doors and windows. Caulking cracks and crevices where cold slips in helps seal your home as well. Wherever you feel a draft, seal the area as best you can to lower the workload of your furnace and keep a more comfortable temperature inside.
Rather than cranking your thermostat higher on colder days, opt for additional layers of clothing. Put on a warm sweater, fuzzy socks, or thermal underwear to stay warm. Cover up with your favorite blanket or throw for added warmth while lounging around the house. You’ll achieve much greater energy efficiency by eliminating the need to increase the temperature. Putting on added layers while indoors during the winter is a great way to stay cozy while lowering your heating costs.
Use Your Ceiling Fans
Your ceiling fans move clockwise and counterclockwise. Use the clockwise direction of your fan during winter to move the warm air around. Warm air rises to the ceiling. In the winter months, this could lead to rooms being a little cooler at the bottom as you lose your heat to the ceiling. When you turn on your ceiling fan, this warm air moves around and is pushed back down to better heat your room. Be sure to keep the fan on a low setting so you don’t get a chill from the blowing air.
Clean Your Ducts
Warm air from your furnace moves through the ducts to vents where the air enters your room. Over time your ducts may become clogged with dirt and debris. When this happens, your furnace has to work hard to force air past the clogs. You may experience uneven or insufficient heating due to blocked air ducts. Have a trained HVAC technician inspect your ductwork and identify and remove any potential blockages. Additionally, any leaks in your ducts may be spotted and addressed by the technician. Sealing leaks keeps warm air in the ducts until they reach the vents to heat your home.
Buy a New Furnace
Although the upfront cost of a new furnace may seem contradictory to saving money on your heating bill, the long-term benefits of purchasing a new unit will save you loads of cash. A typical home furnace lasts 10-20 years. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, you should consider whether it is time for a replacement. As a furnace ages, it becomes less efficient. You’ll start seeing your heating bills rise with the age of your furnace. If you notice this increase in energy use without changing your heating habits, it may be time to consult with an HVAC technician on the replacement of your heating unit.
Staying warm in the winter is a top priority in the Midwest. To maintain home comfort, you need a furnace that works hard without breaking the bank. Remember some of these easy steps when it comes time to flip the switch to heat on the thermostat. By using your furnace less you increase the overall lifespan of the unit and lower your monthly utility bill.
For the best maintenance, repairs, and furnace replacements in the Illinois and Wisconsin area, call Modern Heating and Plumbing today.