Your home heating system is integral to keeping you and your family comfortable this winter. It can also lead to an expensive utility bill each month, and in that spirit, let us explore some of the strategies that you can use to keep your costs down while maintaining a warm and welcoming abode.
Adjust Water Heater Temperature
While the furnace is an obvious focus, many homeowners do not realize that running their water heater is among their largest expenses in winter. Start with a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the usual manufacturer’s recommendation. If the water is not hot enough, you may need 125 or even 130 degrees, but increase it one degree at a time to find your sweet spot. You may also investigate other options, such as installing a jacket around the water heater and insulating the pipes connected to it.
Find the Lowest Temperature You Find Comfortable
Energy.gov advises that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal winter temperature while home and awake. You can set the temperature as low as 50 degrees while sleeping, at work or on vacation. As long as your pipes are not at risk of freezing, the lower the temperature the better, and in the tips ahead, we will look at some strategies that will let you keep your thermostat setting on the lower end of the range.
Lower the Temperature When You Go to Bed
So, we touched on this suggestion in the tip above, but this advice is worth emphasizing. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average home can lower its energy bill in winter by 10% if you lower the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees at nighttime. We recommend investing in a smart thermostat that makes this easier by adjusting the temperature for you automatically.
If you dress like it’s summertime and adjust the thermostat to compensate, it will cost you. It is more economical to wear a sweater and other heavier clothing and reduce the temperature. Likewise, you should have winter-specific bedding that allows you to run a lower temperature at night.
Use Ceiling Fans
You should ideally have a ceiling fan in almost every room in your home, and you should consider installing them in the rooms that lack them. In rooms where a ceiling fan is impractical or unwanted, you can consider using an air circulator instead. Ceiling fans should be set to spin clockwise during winter. That will help push the warmer air into the living space without blowing on you. A home with adequate ceiling fan coverage can get by with the thermostat set several degrees lower than one without.
Humidify Your Space
Air is naturally drier in winter. The process of heating your home can also lead to drier air. A whole-home humidification system is an option, but most people can get by with one or more portable humidifiers that can be moved into the living spaces that are currently being used. The ideal relative humidity for winter is 40-50%. That is better for your skin and respiratory system, and it will also make you feel warmer, which can let you lower your temperature by as much as several degrees.
Take Advantage of Sunlight
Let the sun in, and take advantage of all that free heat. If you have a smart thermostat, you may also want to consider investing in smart shades. These can pay for themselves in just several years. Be mindful that windows should be covered at nighttime. For windows where you use curtains, you may want to consider quilted or similar material, which can help keep the heat in.
Make Use of Space Heaters
A fireplace or a portable electric space heater can be an effective way of heating your home during winter. Space heating allows you to keep the overall temperature of the home lower while maintaining a warmer temperature in the rooms that are in use. If you would need to use more than two space heaters, however, then it would likely be more efficient to turn up the thermostat.
Replace Your Air Filters as Needed
You should visually inspect HVAC air filters at least once a month and replace them—or clean them if applicable—whenever you can see accumulated dust. During the peak heating season when you are running your furnace around the clock, you may even want to check them on a weekly basis. Dirty filters restrict airflow, and that causes your furnace to work harder and your electric bill to go up.
Air Seal Your Home
Now we will get into some of the big picture strategies, such as eliminating drafts and other forms of air leaks. You can have your home professionally air sealed. You should consider doing this every decade or so, which the EPA estimates will lower your energy costs by 11%. In the interim, you can replace any damaged weatherstripping and use door socks and other draft prevention tools.
Ensure There’s Adequate Attic Ventilation and Insulation
Attics need to be properly ventilated and insulated. There are a number of reasons for this. The most important reason within the context of this discussion is that it blocks the transfer of energy from the home and thus makes the residence easier to heat.
Insulate Your Crawl Space
Crawl spaces and basements are also a common cause of heat loss. In fact, the Energy Star program estimates that insulating and sealing a crawl space or basement is the number one opportunity to reduce energy costs in the average home.
Use Zoned Heating to Your Benefit
If you have a variable-speed air handler that can adapt to pressure changes, then you should close vents in rooms you do not use. If you have a zoned HVAC system, set the temperature lower in areas not occupied. Note that you should not close vents if you have a traditional fixed-speed air handler as this will cause your heating system to work harder and thus increase your heating bill.
Schedule Seasonal HVAC maintenance
Schedule furnace maintenance in autumn prior to ever turning on the heat. A furnace tune-up can save you up to 10% over the course of the heating season.
Schedule an Energy Audit
You should have a professional energy audit performed for your home every four years. The energy report will provide you with a prioritized list of your home’s energy efficiency problems. If you tackle these problems, the audit will easily pay for itself and save you money as well.
Your Local Heating Pros in Newbury Park
Southland Heating and Air Conditioning is a family-owned and locally operated company that serves Newbury Park and the neighboring communities. Our team has more than 50 years of combined industry experience, and we are committed to exceptional customer service. Our company specializes in heating and can help you keep your home warm this winter and your energy bill low. We also install, maintain and repair air conditioning systems and provide indoor air quality services. Contact us online or call us today to learn more about our services and specials and to schedule an appointment.