By Amy DeYoung
Updated Nov 18, 2022
While many homeowners look forward to a cozy and warm home during winter, it can be expensive to keep it feeling like the tropics. Avoiding some common home heating mistakes can help reduce your energy bills, saving you money. In fact, not making the following mistakes can save you money by preventing expensive repairs or appliance replacements.
Your air filter keeps your air quality high, so not only should you want to change it regularly for the sake of your air quality, but changing the air filter keeps your furnace working efficiently. If your air filter is dirty, your furnace has to strain itself and use more energy to keep your home comfortable. Changing your air filter is much less expensive than the higher energy bills you’d face and keeps your furnace working well longer.
Ideally, you should only change your thermostat by a few degrees at a time. Often, we make the mistake of turning the thermostat up dramatically as a reaction to sudden temperature drops, but this only makes our HVAC system overwork itself, leading to wasted energy.
Turn the thermostat up or down only a few degrees at a time, and allow your heating system to catch up before turning it up or down more. This prevents the heating system from exerting a lot of energy all at once.
If you leave your home for a few days, program your thermostat to 60℉. This temperature will keep your home and pipes from freezing while decreasing energy consumption when no one is home.
If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to drop in temperature before you go to sleep. A cooler environment has been shown to help us sleep better, combat insomnia, decrease the risk of disease, and even help with weight loss. Likewise, set your home’s temperature to drop a few degrees while you’re at work during the day, then warm up just before you arrive home.
Drafts and air leaks make it difficult for your home to maintain your desired temperature, raising heating costs.
Check all of your doors, exterior walls, and windows for drafts. Weatherstripping is an ideal way to seal drafts coming from your door or around your windows, while caulking or sealants can be used to seal other cracks. The basement and attic are typically some of the worst areas of the house as they are often unused rooms, allowing drafts to go unnoticed much longer.
Remember, the end goal is to keep the heat inside your home, so investing in better insulation and sealing up any openings with caulk can make a huge difference in your home’s heating costs and ability to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Preventative maintenance is a homeowner’s best friend. Regular maintenance helps your appliances, heat pump, and HVAC system run more efficiently by fixing minor issues before they develop into larger problems, increasing your system’s life span.
Not only will regular tune-ups save you money, but having your furnace maintenance performed before the temperatures outside drop prevents you from ending up in a freezing cold situation when your heating system gives out in the middle of winter. Schedule service while the temperature outside is nicer to avoid this situation and keep your furnace running optimally.
A lit fireplace is a cozy sight. However, fireplaces are expensive to run, and most of the heated air escapes through the chimney and out of your home. The chimney also allows cold air in from outside, making your furnace and HVAC system work harder to keep your home warm.
Opening your curtains or blinds on bright days allows the sun’s natural warmth to heat your home. Don’t forget to close them up before nighttime to trap the warm air inside your home.
To take this tip to the next level, install window film to increase your windows’ insulation. Some brands claim that window film helps retain up to 55% of your home’s heat.
Space heaters are a great way to heat a small space, like your office or bedroom. However, they shouldn’t be used in place of a furnace or boiler or with the thermostat cranked down in your home. This won’t save you money on your fuel costs. Instead, it’ll cause your electric bill to take a hit.
Space heaters also pose safety risks. You should always keep your pets and children away from them, as they can be a fire hazard if tipped over. Position space heaters away from flammable materials and turn them off whenever you leave the room or go to sleep to avoid creating electrical mishaps.
Some homeowners close heating vents in unused rooms, thinking this will save them money on their energy bills. Unfortunately, this outdated belief causes an imbalance, resulting in your furnace working harder to pump warm air through the other open vents. Closing vents can increase your home’s risk of freezing water pipes.
Cutting corners with your heating system doesn’t save you money in the long run and can cost you more. For example, don’t cut corners when it comes to keeping the indoor air warm enough to keep your pipes from freezing, as a burst pipe will cost far more than a slightly higher heating bill. The slow and steady path of regular maintenance from HVAC professionals, programming an optimal temperature setting, and checking your home for drafts and air leaks will always save you much more money and frustration.
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