Like it or not, winter comes around every single year. It brings along holiday get-togethers, cozy sweaters, and gorgeous sunrises at a time when you are actually awake to see them. Unfortunately, we also get slick driving conditions, snowstorms and higher heating bills.
The money we spend on energy in this country has reached astronomical levels. As much as half of the cost can be attributed to heating and cooling our homes. However, no one wants to sacrifice comfort for the sake of saving a few dollars. With smart choices, there are ways to lower your heating bill and keep your home toasty throughout the season.
Steps you can take today to lower your heating bill tomorrow
1. Furnace Installation, Maintenance, and Replacement
Most people don’t realize how much money they lose due to an ineffective furnace. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, it may need to be replaced. Routine maintenance should be performed on all equipment after one year to make sure it is still operating efficiently.
Use a professional for the installation to ensure it is done correctly for maximum benefit. Proper installation alone can account for up to 30 percent in savings. Without it, you subject yourself to higher energy bills and a reduced lifespan for your furnace.
Maintaining your furnace so that it is always in good working order can be as simple as changing the filters every month. A dirty filter can restrict airflow, making your furnace work harder to provide the same amount of heat, which is like throwing energy out the window. It can also cause dust and debris to build up in your HVAC system, leading to expensive repairs later or even system failure. The best way to tell is to look at it. If the filters appear dirty, change them.
It’s also a good idea to clear any leaves or debris from outside units. Don’t let too much vegetation grow near it as this may restrict its ability to “breathe.”
You should also get a tune-up which includes an inspection and identifying any parts that might need repair or replacement. Many warranties actually cover this type of preventative care so check your policy. Research shows that a lack of maintenance is the number one reason for HVAC system failure. Lack of regular maintenance may even void some warranties.
If your system is not operating at peak performance, you are wasting money. In some cases, a system replacement may be necessary. This is especially true under certain conditions, such as if you’ve added an addition to your home and the system no longer meets your heating needs or you are looking for new features that will improve your comfort.
Before you decide to replace, check first to make sure it doesn’t just need a repair. When you do have to replace your heating system, pay attention to the size of the unit, the BTUs you will need for your square footage and how the new unit will work with your lifestyle (how much traffic in and out, climate where you live, whether you prefer to be warm or cool, etc.). It is important to note that fewer BTUs may be used depending on the efficiency of the unit.
2. Heating System Maintenance
When your HVAC system isn’t working as it should be, it is readily noticed by everyone in your household. Taking care of your heating system can help extend its efficiency and longevity. Maintenance is best done late summer into the fall, to prevent surprises and unexpected emergency visits by your HVAC professional in the winter.
You should check your thermostat settings to make sure you aren’t using excess energy during times when your home is empty. Additionally, all oil (or gas) connections, heat exchanger, burners and gas pressure gauges should be inspected. Anything connected improperly may pose a fire, health or safety hazard for your family.
3. Dual Fuel System
This is a system that combines an electric heat pump with a with a gas furnace. It is devised to alternate between the two for ideal comfort depending on the current conditions in your home.
As long as the outside temperature is above 35 degrees, the heat pump will draw heat from the air outside. This is less expensive than using the furnace. Your furnace will only turn on during the coldest times. Although it’s a more costly upfront investment, a dual fuel system will save you money over the long haul because it’s easier to move heat around than to create it.
4. Heat Zoning Systems
In every home, there are areas or rooms that stay warmer or colder than others. Your daughter is complaining of being too cold in the basement family room while your son states that the temperature is just fine in the kitchen.
Heat zoning systems address that problem by heating only the areas that need it. The system works by using dampers in the ductwork that close off specific parts of your home to divert the warm air and send it to areas where you need it the most.
People consider geothermal to be an economically-friendly heating and cooling option. The design of these systems use the energy already available in the Earth to pump heat into your home.
How does your heating system work?
You could have one of several different power sources for your furnace. This includes electricity, geothermal and solar. The most popular method is gas. No matter what kind of heating system you have, there are basic components common to all types.
- Burners to heat up the fuel and send it throughout the system
- Heat exchangers to absorb the heat
- An exhaust vent to send any gases outside of your house
- Some sort of blowing mechanism to distribute the warm air throughout your space
- Your thermostat communicates with your HVAC system and determines when the system runs and when it shuts off. Models and types of thermostats can range from manual, programmable or even controlled remotely with your smart device.
A heating system works best when well maintained and suited for your daily life. Trust the experts at Elder Heating and Air to help you maintain a reliable heating system as well as repair or install the top brands and maximize the efficiency of your home.