Cold season is slowly making its way towards us! Depending on your approach to heating, you may find that, come winter-time, your energy consumption is much higher than it actually needs to be. If you want to save money on heating, it helps drastically to take a systematic approach and to find strategic ways to prevent heat loss, develop energy-saving habits, and improve/maintain the condition of your home’s heating system.
Before we dive into concrete ways to keep your utility bills low and carbon footprint small this winter, it is important to know the common areas that experience heat loss in a house. Since it is impossible for a home to be 100% airtight, warm air can escape through small cracks and crevices throughout your space, which means that cold air that is outside can also sneak inside through those same nooks and crannies. It is estimated that around 25% of your home’s heat can be lost through tiny openings. Make sure to check these areas for potential heat loss:
- Power outlets
7 helpful tips to keep your home warm and energy consumption low:
1. Keep your furnace filter clean
A furnace that is regularly cleaned and serviced is not only more energy-efficient, but will also help slow down the accumulation of dust. Check your furnace’s filter once a month, and if you find that it is very dirty, it is likely time to replace it. It may surprise you to learn how quickly filters can become dirty and inefficient, thanks to the abundance of dust particles, microscopic debris, and germs present in the air! Clean furnaces with unclogged filters have better air circulation capabilities, which means they do not have to work as hard to push clean, warm air out, thereby racking up the energy savings. Additionally, it is helpful to make sure all your vents and heating registers are cleaned often and are free from obstructions (mostly dust).
2. Use sunlight to heat your space naturally
This may seem like common sense, but this is somewhat of an overlooked strategy when it comes to economically and environmentally efficient tactics for heating in the winter. Although you may not see the sun as often as you might in the summer, it is very helpful to take advantage of it whenever it does come around! Keep blinds and curtains open in the daytime to let the sun’s rays heat up your space naturally — particularly with your south-facing windows. Doing this can increase room temperature by an average of two degrees during the day, which accounts for saving roughly three-percent on your electricity bill. Don’t forget to close your blinds in the evening, however, so that the chill from your cold windows does not counteract the warmth from your main heating system.
3. Use programmable thermostats
Switching to a programmable thermostat may be quite beneficial in terms of eliminating unnecessary heating usage. On average, almost half (approximately 42%) of home energy costs go to heating and cooling the home, and a lot of the time, those costs are being put towards heating empty or unused spaces. This can occur when the homeowners are at work, when the kids are at school, or when everyone is sleeping. Programmable thermostats can be set to automatically turn the heat down during those periods, which translates to tangible energy savings. According to researchers, turning the thermostat down by one degree Fahrenheit for around eight hours can reduce your energy consumption by 1%. Turning the heat down 10 degrees Fahrenheit when the home is empty or when its occupants are asleep could reduce total energy consumption by 10%.
4. Reverse your ceiling fan’s spin
If you have ceiling fans in any of the rooms in your home, you can use them during the colder months of the year to help distribute warm air more efficiently throughout your home and lower your heating bill. This may appear counter-intuitive, but doing so actually helps to circulate the warm air in your room better. That is because warm air expands and rises, as opposed to how cold air sinks, and it also tends to rise to the top of a room, so having a fan move the air around means the warm air will get pushed into corners that are difficult to heat up, thereby making the most of your heating system!
During the winter, you should reverse the fans so that the blades turn clockwise. There should be a small switch at the base of your fan. The clockwise direction of the blades should pull air upward so that the warm air that’s trapped at the top of the room gets pushed down your walls and travels around the room more evenly. In order to see if the blades of the fan are spinning in the proper clockwise direction, stand beneath it; you should not be able to feel air blowing down on you.
5. Use a humidifier
Come winter-time, it would be in your best interest to pull your humidifier out of storage and start running it simultaneously with your main heating system. This is because humid air feels much warmer than dry air, so you can keep your thermostat (and bills!) lower. Not only is this an excellent method to improve your comfort in a zero-cost way, but it is also generally a good idea to keep a humidifier on in the winter, as it is generally very dry!
6. Draft-proof your house
This means going around your entire house and checking to see where cold air is potentially creeping in. If you want to be extra accurate about this, you can purchase an electronic thermal leak detectors, but you can also just walk around barefoot to find those cold spots. A good way to begin is by assessing the areas around your windows and doors, but also be aware of any spaces that are connected to outside, which could include your attic, basement, and exterior walls.
When it comes to windows, the seal is tightest when they are locked, so be sure to close everything properly. If cold air is still coming in, try using transparent film to help seal out the draft. Be sure to check if any daylight is coming in underneath your doors, because you may find that you need new weather-stripping.
Other major causes for cold drafts include exterior pipes and drains, outlets, and chimneys. Make sure everything is sealed tight, and add caulking where necessary. As well, be sure to check your attic, just in case you need to update your insulation or add a seal to the attic door.
7. Service your heating systems
The older your heating system is, the less efficient it is going to be. Depending on the age of your central heating system, the best thing to do might be to replace it with a high-efficiency model. You will find that with regular maintenance of your HVAC system, you will actually spend far less in the long run due to accumulated system malfunctions. At Milani, we pride ourselves in our ever-growing fleet of highly trained professional technicians, and we always want to help you stay comfortable 24/7, all year round. Feel free to give us a call at (604) 888-8888 to schedule your annual system servicing today!