When it comes to utility bills for the average home, heating, and cooling likely account for over half of your energy use. So, doing everything you can to ensure efficiency will save you money, while keeping you and your family comfortable. There are a variety of things you can do to minimize your heating costs this winter. Here’s a list of quick tips for staying cozy.
- Let the Sunshine In – Throw open the curtains and the blinds to let the sunlight warm up your home during the day. When the sun goes down, pull them closed to trap the heat inside.
- Invest in Insulating Curtains – Speaking of the curtains, hanging insulated panels will trap more heat inside than standard window treatments.
- Get Dressed for the Weather – Wear heavier garments and/or dress in layers for warmth. Don’t forget slippers – or at least warm socks!
- Add Warm Décor – Add a pretty, soft blanket to your living room sofa for snuggling up and put down rugs on bare floors. Flannel sheets and/or a heavier bedspread for winter also help you keep cozy overnight.
- Clear Space Around Vents – Move furniture and other items out of the way of your heat and cold air return vents. This keeps air from your furnace from getting trapped behind things and air can circulate to optimize your HVAC system.
- Use Kitchen and Bathroom Fans Less – These fans suck up steam and odors, but they also eat up your hot air, especially because warm air rises.
- Put a Damper on It – If you have a fireplace, make sure you close the damper when you’re not burning a fire. Your chimney is designed to suck the smoke up and out, and that’s what it will do with your warm air if you leave it open.
- Put It in Reverse – If you have ceiling fans, run them in reverse. Hot air from your furnace rises to the ceiling, but running the fan in reverse will push it back down into your living space.
- Turn Down the Thermostat – If you dial the temperature back by just a few degrees for times you’re not at home and for overnight, you can reap big savings in your heating bill. And your comfort level won’t be affected because you’re either not there or cuddled up under your winter bedding. Better yet, get a programmable or smart thermostat, which can automatically make those adjustments for you.
- Schedule an Energy Audit – An energy auditor can walk through your home and identify where you can improve the efficiency of your home. We can help you with this or you may be able to find an auditor online or by contacting your utility companies.
- Assess Your Insulation – Visit this page on the Department of Energy’s website to see how much insulation Western Pennsylvania homes need for efficiency. There’s a handy map that shows insulation needs by region and some details on how much and what kind of insulation you need.
- Change It Up – Make sure you change the filter in your furnace monthly to amp up the efficiency of your system. Your system has to work harder when it’s sporting a dirty filter.
- Tune It Up – Be sure to schedule an appointment with us for your annual furnace maintenance to ensure your system is operating at peak performance. This small expense can result in big savings on your utility bills – as well as potentially prevent the need to replace your system due to breakdown.
- Add a Humidifier – Moist air retains heat more effectively than dry winter air. Plus, a humidifier makes it easier to breathe, reduce static electricity, and help prevent dry, cracked skin.
- Invest in a New System – Newer HVAC systems convert energy to heat more efficiently than older models. That is, newer systems can maintain your cozy home environment for what can be significant savings. If you need to decide whether to repair or replace your furnace this winter, check out the recommendations on our blog. Replacing your system may also have the added benefit of coming with tax incentives. We can help you learn how.
Weighing Your Decision to Buy a New System
If you are considering investing in a new system, an important first step in selecting the one that’s right for your home is understanding efficiency ratings. For furnaces, you need to understand the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating, which
- Is the standard measurement of efficiency for gas and oil-fired furnaces.
- Tells you how much of your fuel is used to heat your home and how much is wasted.
- Translates to the percentage of the money you could save. (For example, switching from an 80% AFUE system to a 90% system will save you 10% on your energy bill.)
The higher the AFUE rating, the greater the efficiency, and we partner with brands that offer systems with AFUE ratings of up to 98.3%! Check the plate on your furnace to find the AFUE of your current system to calculate what you could save.