When the bitter, gusting Arctic air and snow begin to show up in your area, you might just get an unwelcome surprise when you open your next home heating bill. With a few projects, you can easily cut heating costs.
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, heating accounts for 31 percent of the typical home’s energy costs and suggests that just two smart tips can reduce that amount by up to 20 percent:
- Plug air leaks. Your heating dollars could be going out your windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Stop all these air leaks and cut heating costs with sealant or caulking and weather stripping.
- Install appropriate insulation for your climate based on R-values. Start with attic insulation, followed by exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces. Insulate and seal attic air ducts.
- In addition to adding insulation and sealing drafts, consider these low cost to no cost tips to lower heating bills:
- Open curtains and other window treatments on your west- and south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night.
- Let a programmable thermostat “remember for you” to lower the heat while your home is empty and/or overnight to cut heating costs by up to 10 percent – and allow you to come home and wake up to a toasty, comfortable house.
- Keep furnace filters clean. Check and change your filter every month during heavy use winter months to assist air flow so your system doesn’t have to work harder to keep you warm.
- Seal your heating and cooling ducts. In a typical house with a forced air system, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers home energy bills, and can often pay for itself in energy savings. Insulate ducts in unheated areas such as attics, crawlspaces, and garages with duct insulation that carries an R-value of 6 or higher. Also, a well-designed and sealed duct system may make it possible to downsize to a smaller, less costly heating and cooling system that will provide better dehumidification.
- Properly maintain your HVAC system. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. The federal government’s ENERGY STAR website can help you find a qualified heating contractor .