Heating season is coming up fast in many parts of the United States. Is your home ready?
The US Energy Information Administration released their Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook, and home heating costs are expected to rise for homeowners using natural gas, propane, and electricity. Many experts predict a winter as cold or colder than last year. Here are 3 tips to get your home ready for heating season. You can take them one at a time, or make a weekend project out of them. We’ve also included Next Steps to help you save even more money during this heating season.
Here are 3 quick and easy tips to help make your home less expensive this heating season. We’ve also included 3 Next Steps for when you’re ready for a Do It Yourself project:
- Turn your thermostat down. Why pay to heat your home if you’re not in it? When you leave the house in the morning, turn your thermostat down 10 degrees and you could save up to 10 percent on your heating bill this winter.
- Next step: Consider a programmable thermostat. A basic model can adjust your home’s temperature automatically, so you can set it and forget it! An advanced model programs itself and can be controlled from your smartphone.
- Seal drafty window frames. Air leaks through window frames let cold air in, making your home drafty and uncomfortable. They also make your heating system work harder, leading to higher operating costs and increased stress on system components. The quick and easy solution? Tape the inside of the window frame with clear, heavy acrylic tape to stop the worst leaks.
- Next step: Cover leaky windows with a window insulation kit. Window insulation kits include puncture resistant film and heavy duty tape. Cover your windows, tape the plastic in place, and use a hair dryer to shrink and seal the plastic to fit your frames.
- Seal gaps around pipes, chimneys, cupboards, and closets. Air also leaks through these tiny gaps. It’s especially important to keep your home airtight between the insulated and uninsulated spaces, where cold air comes in and warm air – and your hard-earned dollars – escape. Use caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks.
- Next step: Contact a local air sealing contractor or HVAC contractor to evaluate your home and make recommendations for sealing gaps in your home’s envelope and cleaning your ducts and air filters.
Getting your home ready for heating season doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. A few simple changes in your daily routine, or an afternoon of do it yourself projects is all you need to make your home more comfortable and less expansive this winter.
Energy scientist Amory Lovins argues that the 1973 oil embargo was a watershed moment for energy efficiency in the United States. In the past 40 years, however, cheap energy has made U.S. energy policy a bit soporific. A comprehensive energy efficiency policy could have a significant effect:
$5 trillion saved, 158% economic expansion, and be led by business for profit.
The question is: are we ready to take action?
Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute identifies transportation fuel efficiency, building energy efficiency, and expanded domestic oil and gas production as three key steps. The argument is compelling. Advanced materials in cars and trucks can make them lighter and more fuel efficiency without sacrificing safety. Using our own oil and gas instead of imports would drop the price, freeing money for research and development of alternative energy sources. And taking basic steps to make buildings more energy efficient “offers $1.4 trillion net savings with a juicy 33 percent internal rate of return.” If that sounds good to you, we have even better news.
Heating season is projected to be longer for many regions of the United States. A longer heating season means higher heating costs, so it’s important to make sure that your HVAC system is cleaned, fine tuned, and ready to deliver the highest level of comfort as affordably as possible.
If you read our “3 tips for a more comfortable, less expensive home heating season” you’re all ready to go with this latest article in our “3 Tips” series:
Here are 3 quick and easy tips to help make your home more comfortable and less expensive this heating season. We’ve also included 3 Next Steps for when you’re ready for a Do It Yourself project:
- Check your filters. Your air filters on your heating system or furnace work hard to keep the air your family breathes healthy. Check your furnace and air filters now, and check them again each month. Are they dirty or clogged? Time to replace them!
- Next step: Are HVAC filters new to you? Check out this great article from our fried Bob Vila on How To Choose the Right Furnace Filter.
- Open the shades on your southern facing windows and close your second floor air vents to 50% of the first floor. Take advantage of the sun to keep your southern facing rooms warm, and use heat from your first floor to help control second floor temperatures.
- Next step: Reverse your ceiling fans. Many people forget that their ceiling fans have a switch that controls the direction of the blades. In the winter you can use your ceiling fans to keep your rooms warm: spin the blades clockwise and your fan will force warm air down and throughout the room.
- Get money for a new, Energy Star rated furnace. If you haven’t already taken advantage of your Federal Tax Credit for Consumer Energy Efficiency you may be eligible for tax credits on everything from heat pumps to water boilers to furnaces.
- Next step: Check out the Energy Star website [Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency] to find eligible HVAC system components. Then find your local HVAC contractor at the Air Conditioning Contractors of America to help you with the installation and tax credit process.
Getting your HVAC system ready for heating season doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. A few simple changes in your daily routine, or an afternoon of do it yourself projects is all you need to make your system ready to go this winter.