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Five Ways to Reduce Your Heating Costs this Winter

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As the temperatures continue to drop outside, the heating bills continue to climb. Thankfully there are several ways you can help reduce your heating costs this winter, to keep those heating costs down and reduce your carbon footprint.

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1. Regular Yearly Inspections and Maintenance 

Just as your car needs regular tune ups to continue to run correctly and efficiently, so does your HVAC system. Make sure you hire a licensed professional HVAC company to do this routine maintenance.

Generally, this will include a technician coming to your house and checking your thermostat settings, tightening all electrical connections, lubricating all moving parts, inspecting the condensate drain, checking the system controls, ductwork and more.

These seasonal visits will not only help keep your HVAC tuned, but they will also help to spot any potential costly problems early on, while they are still easy to repair.

These routine inspections can also help ensure your family’s health as all sorts of problems can arise from a system not working properly.

2. Adjust Your Thermostat

One easy way to help cut down on heating costs is to adjust your thermostat. Each degree you turn your thermostat down can save you around 2% to 3% of heating costs. A good rule of thumb is to set your thermostat to 68° during the winter. In addition, turn it down when you are away during the day or if you leave town. Also, avoid the turn it up, turn it down habit, and try to keep the thermostat temperature steady.

Another option is to consider installing a programmable thermostat where you can set it to lower temperatures at night and while everyone is away from home. Through the proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you around $180 every year in energy costs!

3. Clean and Seal 

Be sure to clean all of the warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators in your home as needed. Also, make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.

In addition, making sure the ductwork that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are properly sealed and insulated, can greatly improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. If they are not properly sealed, this is something you can do yourself with a bit of knowledge, skill and time.

In short it involves sealing the ducts that run through your attic, crawl space, basement, or garage by using duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape on the seams and connections of the ducts.

After sealing you will then want to wrap them in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter. I do advise reading up on this if you plan to do it yourself.

4. Stop Heat Loss and Drafts

Worn and torn weatherstripping around doors and windows creates drafts and lets in cold air. Stop this unnecessary heat loss by replacing that worn weatherstripping with new. Also, make sure to close drapes, shades, or blinds especially at night; although if you have windows that get direct sunlight, be sure to keep those curtains open during the day so that light can come in and naturally warm up the home.

If your windows are still drafty you may want to consider adding a roll of window film to help keep heat inside your home. If you still feel a draft around the doors, a rolled towel, or even a DIY draft stopper does a great job of preventing cold air from entering (and warm air from escaping) beneath doors when placed up against the door jamb.

If you have a fireplace, make sure you keep the damper closed when not in use. In addition, ventilation fans such as those found in the bathroom and above the kitchen range should be cut off immediately after they have done their job, I’ve actually read that these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed air in just 1 to 2 hours! Finally, keep doors closed to rooms you infrequently use.

5. Clean and Replace Filters

A dirty air filter inhibits the air flow, slowing it down, and making the system work harder and use more energy to maintain a steady temperature. It can even lead to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.

In addition, a dirty filter also leads to all kinds of health problems from allergies to asthma to other respiratory illnesses. Make sure to check your filter every month, especially during the months you use it most like summer and winter. If it looks dirty after a month, it is time to change it.

One air filter generally costs between $4 and $15, usually depending on the size and brand.

image via Jesus Rodriguez

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