Keeping your home warm and comfortable through the long Pennsylvania winter isn’t cheap –and that’s especially true if you don’t do the little (and not so little) things that can help you save energy and money along the way.
10 Steps Toward Home Efficiency
Here are 10 of the smartest and most cost-effective ways to cut your heating bills this winter, ranging from free fixes to energy efficiency investments.
Test your thermostat – If your thermostat isn’t properly calibrated, it could be costing you. Have it checked by a professional each year (this should be included in your annual heating maintenance – see #7).
Reverse your ceiling fans – Run a ceiling fan in winter? You bet! Just make sure it’s turning clockwise so it pushes rising warm air back into the room rather than pulling it up to the ceiling.
Lock in solar heat – During the winter, keep drapes, blinds, and curtains on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home; just be sure to close them at night to trap that heat in your home.
Weatherize –You wouldn’t leave a window wide open during the winter, would you? That’s what you’re doing if you don’t fill openings around external windows and doors in your home. Use caulk, weather stripping, door sweeps, and plastic sheeting to keep air leaks to a minimum.
Check filters monthly – Clogged filters put stress on the compressor, leading to higher bills and eventually a breakdown of your equipment. Check filters at least once a month during winter, cleaning or replacing them (depending on the model) as needed. While you’re at it, clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators, too, making sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
Get preventive maintenance – An expert technician will spot small problems that could be robbing your heating system of efficiency – worn parts, rust and corrosion, burner problems, inadequate lubrication, and more. He will also help you find potential safety issues that could pose risk to your family. Get professional heating service every year – it will usually pay for itself in efficiency improvements alone.
Check and seal ductwork – Studies show an average of 10 to 15 percent of the hot air produced by a forced air system escapes through ductwork leaks before ever reaching your living space. Have your ducts inspected every five years, sealing them when called for.
Replace your old furnace or boiler – Older heating systems can operate at efficiencies that drop into the 60s – 30 percent lower than most modern furnaces and boilers. That inefficiency can cost you thousands of dollars over the years – more than enough to justify the cost of a heating system upgrade.