Updated January 18, 2024
Winter is officially here, which means several months of high energy bills. Keeping your home sufficiently warm and comfortable in winter is obviously necessary. Still, it can come at a high cost. Here are some of the most effective ways if you’re looking to lower your 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 in, 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 serious issues. A blogged blower can lead to overheating, which could cause significant damage to the blower and heating unit.
With a gas furnace, it’s also crucial that the 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 also need to have the indoor and outdoor coils cleaned regularly. Dirty coils will greatly reduce heat transfer. That means it can’t absorb as much heat from outside and prevents it from releasing the 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 life of the heating system.
Switch to a Smart Thermostat
Having a smart thermostat is undoubtedly convenient, but it will also 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 when you’re at work or sleeping.
Statistics show that turning your heating down by around 8-10 degrees for just eight hours each day will reduce energy usage by approximately 10%. When used correctly, a smart thermostat can potentially 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 same 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 to save even more. Most advanced units are “learning” thermostats that can program the settings and adjust the temperature on their own. This type of unit 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 how cold it is and how much heat is needed. Not only will this improve your comfort, but it can also lower your heating costs.
Change the Air Filter Regularly
Dirty air filters are one of the biggest contributors to high heating costs. A clogged filter dramatically restricts the airflow coming into the system. It can also lead to overheating and other more serious issues. Some say you only need to change the air filter every three months. However, you’ll get better results if you change the filter 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 major contributor to energy waste. If the attic or crawl space ducts leak lots of air, much 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. This results in the air circulating more slowly. That makes the heating system less effective and increases the time it takes to heat your home thoroughly.
It’s also essential that you have all of the ducts insulated in your crawl space or attic. Crawl spaces and attics can get extremely cold in the winter, which results in any uninsulated ducts also being extremely cold. If the ducts aren’t insulated, the temperature of the air flowing through them will greatly 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 the largest family-owned heating and cooling company in Grimes and the Des Moines area, Golden Rule is the one to trust for all your HVAC needs. We’ve been serving the area for more than 20 years, and our team specializes in heating maintenance, repairs, and installation. We also specialize in residential air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing services. Give us a call to get any of your home service needs taken care of.
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