A common complaint among homeowners is that as outside temperatures lower, home energy bills quickly skyrocket. Even more frustrating is the fact that heating bills never seem to go down year-over-year without conscious steps by the homeowner to do so. Here’s our list of eight actionable steps you can do to lower your heating bills and create a more comfortable, energy efficient home.
Upgrade Your Light Bulbs: Swapping out incandescent light bulbs for LEDS can be a game-changer in terms of energy efficiency. LED bulbs consume ¾ less energy than incandescent bulbs. While they may cost more upfront, LED light bulbs have a significantly longer lifespan. When making upgrades, don’t forget to look at your Christmas lights.
Change Your Furnace Filter: Furnace filters that aren’t regularly changed are prone to clogging. This equates to more energy being expelled by your furnace, which in turn ups your energy bills. Studies by the U.S. Department of Energy have found that routinely changing your furnace filter will lower energy bills from 5% – 15%. A bonus is that less strain placed on your furnace maximizes its lifespan. Reusable filters that are washed at the start of the fall are also available on some furnace models.
Windows: Colder temperatures often highlight drafty windows. While it can be tempting to install new glass packs instead of opting for the cost of full frame window replacement, this approach often produces lackluster results. That’s because the installation of insert windows forfeits the ability for your contractor to inspect the window’s rough opening for dry rot and address any insulation issues.
Explore Full Frame Window Installation:
Turn Down the Heat: Research by The U.S. Department of Energy has shown that homeowners can save as much as 10% per year on heating and cooling costs by turning down your thermostat 7°- 10° from its normal settings for eight hours a day. Optimum times to turn down the heat are when you’re at work or sleeping. A programmable or smart thermostat can allow you to easily achieve this. Better yet, many utility companies offer incentives for homeowners that make the switch to smart thermostats.
Insulation: Inconsistent home temperatures, ice dams, and drafty rooms are all signals that your home’s insulation could be improved upon. Quality insulation contractors have diagnostic tools, such as smoke sticks, blower doors, and infrared imaging. These devices can allow them to get a better understanding of where your home is wasting energy. Beware of any insulation contractor that isn’t discussing attic air sealing as part of your insulation project, as simply adding more insulation to a home can do more harm than good.
Attic Air Sealing: This process involves identifying spots in your attic that can be easily penetrated by exterior air. Vulnerable spots include bath fan penetrations, false soffits, and can lights. Weather-stripping, spray foam, and patches can be utilized to fill in these cracks and create a tighter home.
Reverse the Direction of Your Ceiling Fan: Homeowners rarely give their ceiling fans a second thought in the winter months. However, changing their setting to circulate clockwise allows warm air that has risen from the top of the room to be pushed downward. This approach is particularly helpful in rooms with stately ceilings.
Your Hot Water Heater: Many hot water heaters come preset to 140 degrees. However, lowering this temperature to 120 degrees will lower energy costs and lower the likelihood of scalding water injuring your family. If your hot water heater is in a drafty basement, caulking drafty windows can reduce the amount of stress on the device. In some cases, it may make sense for a specially made blanket to be put around the hot water heater in order to insulate it and reduce the temperature it needs to be set at.