Tips to Keep Your Home Energy Efficient This Winter
With heating and cooling accounting for a major chunk of your household expenses, efficiency is the key in keeping costs down. Here are a few tips from Scott’s Heating and Air Conditioning to keep your home energy efficient this winter.
Let the Sun Shine In
During the summer months, it’s advised to close your curtains as the heat of the sun will also heat up your home increasing cooling costs. In the winter, however, it’s best to keep those curtains and blinds open. The natural sunlight not only will make your home look great, but the warmth will help heat your home without the need for heating costs.
Clean/Replace Air Filters Regularly
Did you know that the #1 reason that AC systems break down prematurely, is because of a dirty filter? HVAC filters that haven’t been cleaned or replaced regularly can restrict airflow to the house and reduce the overall efficiency of the system. A dirty AC filter places more strain on the unit, as the airflow is constricted to not only getting through the filter itself, but through the dust and mites that have masked the airway. And if you’re thinking that’s gross – yes, it is.
Make your home more energy efficient by replacing or cleaning your HVAC filters regularly. You should be cleaning your AC filter even more frequently if you have pets or someone living with lung-related ailments like asthma in your home.
Depending on the type of filter and its Merv rating, there are different guidelines for how often to clean them:
- Disposable Mesh Filters (Merv 1-4) – 1 month or when it looks dirty
- Pleated Filters 1” or 2” (Merv 5-8) – 1-3 months, visually check your filter
- Pleated Filters 3”, 4” or 5” (Merv 8-16) – 6 months – 1 year, visually check your filter
Clean and Clear Your Vents
Blocked vents reduce efficiency and cause your air conditioner to work harder than it should to heat up your home. Inspect your vents for common blockages like furniture, rugs or other items that may be blocking the air flow.
Once you have removed blockages, take a few minutes to clean the vent and remove any dust, dirt or grime. Dirty vents distribute dirt, dust and other particles around your house which could be hazardous to your health.
Have a Fireplace? Keep Your Damper Closed
A fireplace damper is a mechanism that keeps your fireplace sealed when not in use. Keeping your damper open during the winter is like leaving a window or a door open. Hundreds of dollars could be flying right out of your chimney.
Here in Florida, the time to comfortably use a fireplace is rare. That said, they can often get overlooked as a potential source for a heat leak. Remember to include the fireplace in your efforts to make your home more energy-efficient.
Follow these simple steps to ensure your fireplace isn’t decreasing your home’s energy efficiency.
- Close your fireplace damper
- Make sure your chimney flu is sealed as well
- Add caulking around the fireplace hearth
Reverse the Flow of Your Ceiling Fan
When you and your guests need to cool off, you should run your ceiling fan counterclockwise so that the slant of the fan blades push cool air down to you. The opposite is true when you are looking to warm up.
Energy-efficient tip: Reversing your ceiling fan’s direction to clockwise as you look up at it, will help circulate hot air around the room.
Hot air rises. So, the temperature of the air above the fan is warmer than below it- where we tend to congregate. Setting your fan to move clockwise on low will help to move that warmer air around the room increasing the room temperature and reducing your need for heating.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
According to the Department of Energy, you can save 10% on your bill each year by turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees for at least 8 hours a day. Programmable thermostats allow you to keep track of your home temperature while away from the house, set heating and cooling schedules that optimize your energy consumption and provide a convenient way to manage your AC system.
Every degree matters when it comes to your energy costs.
Seal Any Heat Leaks
Your home has many areas where cold air can breach if insulation measures have been neglected or worn over time. Using nothing but foam sealant and weatherizing silicone caulk, you can hunt down heat leaks that may be contributing to your high energy bill. Here are some primary culprits of heat loss:
- Exterior door thresholds – If you can see daylight under your door, then you’ve probably found a heat leak. In fact, up to 12 percent of heat loss in the home happens around doors and windows. If the weather stripping around the door looks worn, replace it.
- Window frames – Check for old or cracked caulk and replace it.
- Attic doors – Because heat rises, a drafty attic door or access hatch can suck up the warmth in your house and leave you with a higher electric bill.
- Electrical outlets – On a cold day, do any outlets feel cold or even give off a faint draft? If so, you can remove the outlet cover and use caulking to fill gaps around the outside of the box.
- Plumbing entrances – Any place where pipes enter and leave the home should be sealed with foam or caulk.
- Chimney – Have the damper in your chimney checked to be sure that it fits snugly in order to prevent heat leaks.
Keep a Regular Maintenance Schedule
Maintaining your HVAC unit may not sound like a fun task, but it could save you a lot of money both in energy costs every month and in the extension of the life of your unit.
A new HVAC unit can cost thousands of dollars. Avoid that cost for as long as possible with these maintenance tips and a bi-yearly inspection from the certified professionals at Scott’s Heating and Air Conditioning.
Originally Published 12/23/2019 Updated 1/6/21
Tags: AC maintenance, energy efficiency, energy savings, programmable thermostat, utility bills