Every time you hear the furnace kick on, you may be thinking about the cost to run it. If your system is approaching 15 years old, you keep your fingers crossed that it will make it through one more season. If your household budget is tight, heating bills can take a big bite out of it. You may need heating repair or an entire replacement of your heating system. To lower your heating bill, try out these ten suggestions:
1. Lower Your Thermostat
One of the easiest ways to lower your bill is to use less heat. Lower the thermostat by one or two degrees. You may be surprised how quickly you adapt to it. Get in the habit of wearing warmer clothes, like sweaters, warm socks and slippers, around the house. Remember that it can lower your bill by five percent. Lower the thermostat even more when you are not home and reduce your bill even more.
2. Lower Your Water Heater Temperature
You probably don’t think much about how much energy your water heater uses. Heating water on average makes up about 10% of your utility bill. Sure, you like hot showers, but maybe you can still get a luxurious shower without making your water heater work so hard. Not only will you reduce your energy consumption, your hot water heater may last longer.
3. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are available at a reasonable cost from your heating and air conditioning services provider. These thermostats can pay for themselves in the first year. You can program the heater to come on only when you are home. When you are at work and all night long, the heater will operate at lower temperatures. A smart programmable thermostat will learn your lifestyle and program itself. You will notice a difference in your energy bills.
4. Open Your Blinds
Take advantage of the heating power of the sunlight shining in through your windows on cold winter days. This natural source of solar heat can keep the rooms very comfortable. Install thermal curtains and close them when the sun goes down. They can reduce heat loss by as much as 10%.
5. Close Up Rooms
You may have rooms in your house that you use occasionally. You don’t need to heat those rooms like you do the rest of the house. Close the heating vents in those rooms and close the doors. You’ll save money by heating less space, and your furnace won’t have to work quite as hard.
6. Change Your Air Filters
Make sure to change your air filters every 60 to 90 days, or more often if you have pets. Dirty air filters impede the flow of air through your system, making it work harder to move air through. Clean air filters will help ensure your furnace is operating at optimal efficiency.
7. Seal Up Cracks and Windows
If your doors and windows are drafty, install caulking or weather stripping to seal up the air leaks as best you can. Around the windows, use caulk or weather stripping. Increase the R-value of your windows by using a plastic-film product available at most hardware stores. You simply stretch a plastic sheet over the windows, holding it place with double-sided tape. Then blow-dry it for a tight fit and leave it until spring. When you are ready to take it down, simply peeled it off.
Alternatively, you can install storm windows. Around your doors, fill in cracks along the door frames with caulk. On the bottom of the door, you can install a door sweep. Don’t overlook larger gaps around plumbing and electrical work, especially where pipes and cables enter your house through exterior walls. Fill those with expandable foam. Finally, cover up any outdoor air conditioning components.
8. Install Additional Insulation
You may be able to reduce your heating bills considerably by adding new insulation. Never building codes are more mindful of energy efficiency, so if your house is over 25 years old, you probably would benefit from more insulation. Check the attic, any crawl spaces, and basement walls. Make sure the R-value is right for the climate where you live. Go one step further and prevent heated air from leaking into your attic or crawl spaces by sealing ductwork with mastic duct sealant or foil-backed tape. That alone can reduce your home’s air leakage and save you a lot of money on your utility bills.
9. Have Your System Serviced Regularly
Contact a professional HVAC contractor to arrange for regular service on your system. Ideally, your technician will come out each fall and inspect your furnace and its components. The technician will clean and lubricate the system, replace any worn parts, and make any other minor heating repair necessary. This professional tune-up can save you money by keeping your system healthy throughout the winter. Annual professional maintenance will help your system perform at its best every year and can even prolong its life.
10. Heating Repair or Replacement For Older Heating Systems
If your heating system is 15 years or older, you should consider replacing it with a more energy efficient one. The new systems are extremely efficient and can pay for themselves in a few years. Operating your appliances accounts for about 20% of your utility bill each year.
If you have the budget, shave more money off of your energy bill by replacing your old refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher with appliances that qualify for the Energy Star. Energy Star refrigerators use half as much energy as those manufactured just fifteen years ago. Some dishwashers exceed current federal energy standards by 41 percent, and Energy Star washing machines are 40 percent more efficient than conventional models.
Choose an Experienced HVAC Contractor for More Information
With winter now underway, you should speak to an experienced professional HVAC contractors soon for more information about heating repair and installation. They have the expert knowledge to determine whether your heating system needs repair, or an entire replacement.