By the middle of January, many people have abandoned their New Year’s Resolutions, but we at Goettl’s High Desert Mechanical still have faith that saving money isn’t an easily abandoned goal. So, to expand on our last blog, we’re sharing more winter energy savings tips from the U.S. Department of Energy’s website on how you can make energy efficiency and cost savings attainable in 2020 (and beyond). The next best thing to “free” is “inexpensive,” so here are 9 inexpensive actions you and your family can take to save on winter heating bills.
1. First, install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can save as much as 10 to 20 percent on year-round energy costs. In winter, lowering the thermostat one degree for every 8-hour period, you can save as much as 1% on heating costs. Certainly, you can do this manually, but for maximum efficiency (and for times you might forget), a programmable thermostat is the way to go. You can program it based on times you are at home (i.e., weekends = more heat) or at work (i.e., weekdays = less heat). For comfort in the morning, program the heat to start just before you wake up; program it to go down before you go to bed. New Wi-Fi programmable thermostats also allow you to make changes remotely as necessary based on weather and preferred comfort considerations.
2. Change air filters regularly. This is one tip you’ve heard us say over and over, regardless of season. In winter, a clean air filter allows for more efficient air flow through the entire heating system. It helps reduce strain on your HVAC system, thereby extending its life cycle. And by removing indoor air pollutants, the air you breath is healthier for you and your family, especially for those with allergies, asthma, or COPD.
3. Seal up a leaky house. Depending upon when and how your home was constructed, it may leak hot air through windows, doors, attics, vents, pipes, electrical outlets, or even the walls themselves. By sealing up these leaks with caulk or weather stripping, you can expect to save between 10 and 20 percent on your heating bill.
4. Add additional insulation. If you live in an area with wide temperature fluctuations, chances are that your home already meets a minimum standard of insulation, particularly if it is a newer home. Yet, some older homes and those with less insulation overall can benefit by adding or upgrading the insulation to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. Furthermore, check with your tax preparer, as additional insulation may qualify as a tax-deductible home improvement project.
5. Seal heating ducts. Ductwork within your HVAC system typically has small leaks that permit heated air to slowly escape in winter and cooled air to slowly escape in summer. Metallic tape or aerosol-based sealants are inexpensive DIY ways to seal small leaks. A professional can be hired to evaluate your entire ductwork, especially if you think the leaks are more extensive.
6. Insulate heating ducts. When non-insulated ductwork travels through an unheated space (i.e., the attic or basement), it can lose as much as 60% of the heated air by the time it reaches the vent. Insulating your heating ducts can be a little more expensive, but the money you’ll save in the long-term is probably worth the investment, especially if you plan on living in your home for many years to come. Potential savings are a minimum of 10% on your energy bill.
7. Use portable space heaters. If you need to heat a specific room (i.e., bedroom or home office), consider using a space heater. And don’t forget to keep the door closed to hold the heat inside.
8. Use a humidifier. Humidifiers can reduce heating costs because moist air holds onto heat better than dry air. Like a space heater, a humidifier has its greatest benefit in the room(s) you use most frequently.
9. Install plastic film window treatments. Heavy-duty clear (or tinted for summer sun) can decrease the heat loss that normally occurs through windows. This is especially cost-saving for single pane windows and windows that are not covered with blinds or curtains.
Of course, if your home’s HVAC system is 15 years or older, it would be beneficial to schedule a free in home consultation where efficient equipment upgrades will be offered, as well as having your duct system(s) tested for leakage – all of which can improve your home’s energy efficiency.
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