The Three Components Of Managing Your Heating Bills

Nobody wants to pay higher heating bills than necessary. However, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly you need to do in order to keep your heating bills under control. When it comes down to it, reducing your heating bills boils down to three components. There are a few simple ways to address each of these components -- and if you're able to address them all (or at least most of them), you are likely to notice a marked reduction in your heating bills.

Component #1: Make sure your furnace is not using any more energy than necessary when it is operating.

Most energy-efficiency tips fall into this category. The less energy your furnace requires to do its job, the lower your bills will be. The first thing to consider when addressing this component is how much of the fuel that your furnace draws in is actually burned and converted to heat. This is represented by your furnace's efficiency percentage. If you have an older furnace that has a standing pilot light, this is a good sign that it's not as efficient as possible. In this case, your first step towards saving on heating bills should be to replace your furnace with a more energy efficient model. (Some modern models are up to 98.5% efficient, meaning that only 1.5% of the fuel is wasted.)

Once you replace your old furnace, or even if you choose not to replace it, there are some other smaller steps you can take to maximize the efficiency of your furnace:

  • Change the air filter once per month. It takes a lot more energy to blow air through a clogged filter than a clean one.
  • Get your ducts professionally cleaned every year or two. Any dust accumulated inside your ducts will absorb valuable heat; that's heat that you're paying for, but that won't be transferred to your home.
  • Have your furnace tuned up annually. Your HVAC specialist will notice and fix any problems that may be causing your furnace to waste energy.

Component #2: Keep heat from flowing out of the home.

Now that you have heat being generated as efficiently as possible, your next goal is to make sure that heat stays inside the home for as long as possible, so your furnace does not have to kick on so often. This can be accomplished by:

  • Ensuring you have enough insulation in your home. If your home is not adequately insulated, heat will leak out rather quickly. Use this online calculator to estimate how much insulation you should have, and invest in some more if your home is not currently up to the standard.
  • Applying spray foam insulation around any crevices or holes where pipes or cords come into the home.
  • Sealing off windows with caulk rope or plastic sheeting. Covering them with thick, insulating drapes works, too. Did you know that up to one third of a home's energy loss occurs through the windows? With these steps, you can reduce that.
  • Closing the door behind you quickly after you come inside or go outside.

Component #3: Keeping your home at a lower temperature.

Of course, the cooler you keep your home, the less you will spend on heating. Once you have ensured your furnace is operating efficiently and that you're not losing heat too quickly, it's time to focus on keeping your home cooler. Some simple tips to try include:

  • Using your programmable thermostat to schedule the temperature to drop about 5 degrees when you're not home, and then warm up again shortly before you arrive home again.
  • Slowly turning down the temperature 1 degree per week, giving your body plenty of time to adjust. Make 62 or 64 your goal -- if you adjust slowly and wear warm clothes, it will feel perfectly comfortable.
  • Keeping the temperature of the whole home lower, and using a small space heater in the room you spend the most time in.

By approaching the idea of saving on heating in an organized manner, you can ensure you don't miss anything. Focus on the three components this winter -- when your heating bill arrives, you'll be happy you did!

For more information, tips, and servicing assistance, contact HVAC contractors, such as those at Allied Mechanical & Electrical, Inc..