Save money on heating your home this winter. Regular maintenance and small changes, such as adjusting your thermostat and the temperature of your hot water heater, can dramatically reduce energy consumption and significantly lower your utility bills.
Here are 10 simple things you can do right now:
1. Dress warmly and turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees.
Every degree you lower your heat (between 60 and 70 degrees) results in a 5% savings on heating costs. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening (health permitting), and to 55 degrees at night or when leaving home for an extended time to save 5-20% of your heating costs. (Heat pumps should only be set back 2 degrees to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating).
2. Replace or clean furnace filters as recommended.
Dirty filters restrict airflow, increase energy use and compromise the performance of your furnace. Replace disposable filters every 1 to 3 months, depending on the type. Clean permanent filters as recommended by the manufacturer. Doing so will maximize energy efficiency and save you money on energy bills and on repairs and maintenance as well.
3. Reduce hot water temperature.
Set your water heater to the “normal” setting or 120-degrees Fahrenheit, unless the owner’s manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Savings are 7 to 11% of water heating costs. Setting the temperature correctly is a safety issue as well. Temperatures that are too high can cause result in scalding, and too low can result in growth of bacteria.
4. Seal up the leaks.
Why waste money heating the outdoors or the non-living spaces of your home? Seal leaks around windows and doors and where you have pipes, vents or electrical conduits that go through the wall, ceiling or floor such as in bathrooms, underneath the kitchen sink, and inside closets. Caulk works best on small gaps. Check with your hardware store for products to close the larger gaps. Your HVAC professional can check for leaks in your ductwork as well.
5. Upgrade your thermostat to a programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats make it effortless to adjust the temperature of your home between day and night, or when no one is there. As mentioned above, the savings realized by lowering your thermostat are significant, so it is worth it to consider the options. A programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature once, based on your habits, for various times of the day. Smart thermostats, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, automatically learn your lifestyle and adjust accordingly.
6. Use the sun to your advantage.
Colorado is blessed with sunshine, even in the winter, so it just makes sense to take advantage of this abundant natural resource by allowing it into your home. Keep the curtains open during the day, especially on south-facing windows. Trim branches or trees that block light around windows. Close curtains at night to keep heat in and reduce drafts.
7. Keep heating registers clear.
Make sure the registers are completely open and unblocked. Furniture and other obstacles covering the registers prevent the warm air from entering the room to provide even heating. Cut heating costs by arranging your rooms so that the registers are as unobstructed as possible.
8. Lock doors and windows.
Locking doors and windows seals them tightly, preventing cold air from entering through gaps in the weather stripping that might be there when doors and windows are simply closed. Lock windows early in the year, before freezing temperatures make it harder to do so.
9. Close fireplace dampers so air doesn’t escape through the chimney.
Cozy fires are nice on cold days, but be sure to close the dampers when you are done. A lot of heat can be lost through the fireplace, making your home harder to heat and raising your heating bills.
10. Use your ceiling fan(s).
Did you know your ceiling fan not only cools your home, but helps heat it too? Set your ceiling fan to a low speed, spinning clockwise. The warm air trapped at the ceiling will mix with the cooler air and heat the entire room. Doing this can save you up to 15 percent in heating costs.
Annual maintenance by an HVAC professional to keep your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5 percent of heating costs.