For those in colder areas of the country, indoor heating efficiency is a pretty big deal. When your heating unit is running constantly for 5 months at a time, any small measure you can take to make it run more efficiently can end up saving you plenty. However, even those who live in warm climates can benefit by having high heat efficiency, and since folks in mild climates use their heating equipment more sparingly, there's a very good chance that the unit in their homes is older and is in even more need of assistance.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Heating and cooling costs are typically the largest energy expense for most U.S. homes." Replacing an old, worn-out heating unit with a modern one can certainly make a big difference in bills and energy usage, but since not everyone is in the market for such an investment, here are a few ideas that can affordably increase indoor heating efficiency.
1.Add or Reinforce Window Treatments
Heating and cooling costs are typically the largest energy expense for most U.S. homes.
We often hear about all the energy savings that can be had by replacing old windows with new, high-efficiency models, but if you think installing a new furnace is expensive, outfitting a home with new windows is down-right astronomical! The good news is: You can decrease heat transfer at windows by using thick, sturdy window coverings. Just like the layer of air between the two panes of glass in a modern window diminishes heat transfer, the layer of air between a heavy curtain and a window keeps warm air from leaving and cool air from entering.
2.Install a Programmable Thermostat
Few of us require our homes to be the same temperature at all times of the day. In fact, most of us would prefer that our heat be lowered when the house is empty or when all occupants are asleep. The problem is, with all of the other things going on in our lives, it's difficult to remember to turn the heat down when it isn't necessary. A programmable thermostat can reduce heat while you're on your drive to work, heat the house up again while you're on your way home, and then lower it after you fall asleep and raise it again before you wake up. These devices can save you a bundle for a very small investment, and they'll ensure that your waking hours in the home are always warm and toasty in the process.
3.Seal Your Ducts
The EPA estimates that about 20 percent of the heated air moving through most homes never makes it to living areas. Instead, that heated air ends up in basements, attics, and other areas where it doesn't do any good. This is all because of loose connections and leaks in ductwork. Sealing these leaks is inexpensive and will not take a long time to perform. The results, however, can have a lasting impact on how living areas feel and how hard your furnace has to work to keep you and your family comfortable.
4.Change or Clean Your Filter Regularly
We've all seen a dirty furnace filter, and just about all of us have seen one that has needed to be changed for quite some time. Furnace filters that are disposable should be changed once every month or two (depending on their quality) during times of frequent furnace operation; permanent furnace filters should be cleaned once a month during times of peak operation. This is one of the easiest jobs in the HVAC world, and one of the cheapest, too. The fact remains, however, that many homeowners consistently pay too much in heating and cooling costs simply because the air filter is dirty!
5.Get an Inspection
A vehicle that doesn't get an oil change and tune-up with regularity won't last as long or run as efficiently as one that does. Your heating system is the same way. Small repairs, minor replacements, and little adjustments that occur with regularity can prevent the big breakdowns that cost you money and cause serious discomfort during winter months. Call for maintenance a few weeks before you expect to turn your heating system on for the first time and your service professional can make sure that it is ready for the coming months of frequent operation.