January 10, 2024
By Mark Paup

Tips for Optimizing Your HVAC System to Save Money This Winter

Updated January 18, 2024

Winter is officially here, which means several months of high energy bills. While keeping your home sufficiently warm and comfortable in winter is necessary, it can come at a high cost. Here are some of the most effective ways to lower heating costs this winter without sacrificing comfort.

Get Your Heating System Professionally Serviced

The best thing you can do to lower your heating costs is to schedule a professional heating maintenance service. This is true no matter what type of heating system you have. Furnaces, heat pumps, and boilers all require regular maintenance to work efficiently. If your heating system isn’t serviced yearly, it can start having issues that limit its effectiveness and reduce energy efficiency.

If you have a forced-air heating system with a furnace or heat pump, you must have the blower cleaned. The squirrel cage around the blower collects lots of dust. The buildup can prevent it from working effectively, resulting in restricted airflow. Restricted airflow means the blower won’t draw as much cool air, so it blows out less warm air. This leads to your HVAC system heating more slowly, which causes increased energy usage since the system will have to run longer. Restricted airflow can also lead to more severe issues. A blogged blower can lead to overheating, which could cause significant damage to the blower and heating unit.

It’s also crucial that gas furnace burners are cleaned every year. Without regular cleaning, the burner’s gas ports will start to clog up and lead to incomplete combustion. Less heat is produced when natural gas or propane doesn’t fully combust. This will also make your furnace less effective and lead to higher energy costs. A more serious consequence is that incomplete combustion leads to carbon monoxide buildup.

If you have a heat pump, you must regularly clean the indoor and outdoor coils. Dirty coils significantly reduce heat transfer. That means the heat pump can’t absorb as much heat from outside and prevents it from releasing heat into the home. If you don’t have the coils cleaned, your heat pump can freeze up more quickly and need to defrost more often. It may also end up overheating or experiencing other issues.

Annual maintenance also helps reduce the chances of the system needing costly repairs or suddenly breaking down. When servicing a heating system, a technician performs a complete inspection. This enables you to get any issues repaired ahead of time to help ensure that your heater keeps working all winter. Maintenance also lessens the wear on the system, which can help extend the heating system’s life.

Switch to a Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat is undoubtedly convenient, but it will make saving on heating costs easier. Smart thermostats are much simpler to program than standard programmable units. You can easily adjust the temperature settings for various times of day and night, like at work or sleeping.

Statistics show that turning your heating down by around 8-10 degrees for eight hours daily will reduce energy usage by approximately 10%. When used correctly, a smart thermostat can reduce your energy bills by up to 20%. The thermostat can automatically turn the temperature down at bedtime. It then heats the home to your desired temperature before you’re out of bed. The exact process happens when you leave for work and return home again.

If you opt to install a more advanced smart thermostat, it could help you save even more. Most advanced units are “learning” thermostats that can program the settings and adjust the temperature independently. This type of thermostat uses things like door and motion sensors to learn your behavior patterns.

Instead of turning the temperature down at a set time each morning, a learning thermostat will use the sensors to determine if your home is occupied. This means it won’t turn the temperature down until everyone leaves in the morning. You can also set it to automatically turn the heating back up as soon as you get out of bed.

Many smart thermostats can also monitor weather forecasts and current outdoor temperatures. This allows them to adjust the settings based on the needed cold and heat. Not only will this improve your comfort, but it can also lower your heating costs.

Change the Air Filter Regularly

Dirty air filters are among the most significant contributors to high heating costs. A clogged filter dramatically restricts the airflow into the system, leading to overheating and other serious issues. Some say you only need to change the air filter every three months. However, you’ll get better results if you change it every month or two. This is especially true for homes with pets, as pet hair will clog the filter more quickly.

Insulate and Seal Your Air Ducts

Leaky air ducts are also a significant contributor to energy waste. If the attic or crawl space ducts leak lots of air, less heat will flow into the living areas. Leaks also contribute to increased static pressure. High static pressure means air flowing through the ducts meets more resistance, resulting in the air circulating more slowly. That makes the heating system less effective and increases the time it takes to heat your home thoroughly.

Insulating all the ducts in your crawl space or attic would be best. Crawl spaces and attics can get extremely cold in the winter, which results in any uninsulated ducts being extremely cold. If the ducts aren’t insulated, the temperature of the air flowing through them will significantly decrease. This means the air blowing out of the vents will be colder, and your home will heat more slowly.

Upgrade to a More Energy-Efficient Heating System

If your furnace or heat pump isn’t that efficient or is more than 12 years old, replacing it could save you money on your monthly bills. While replacing the unit is a major expense, it will almost always pay significant dividends in the long term. If you have a medium-efficiency furnace, upgrading to a high-efficiency unit or a heat pump could save you a few hundred dollars on heating this winter. Federal tax credits might also be available for a high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR-rated furnace or heat pump. That will also help offset some of the costs of purchasing and installing the new unit.

As a family-owned heating and cooling company, Golden Rule is the one to trust for all your HVAC needs. We’ve been serving the Metro area for more than 25 years, and our team specializes in heating maintenance, repairs, and installation. We also specialize in residential air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing services. Call us to get any of your home service needs taken care of.

Contact Us Today for Heating & Cooling Services!

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