Take advantage of these expert tips to take care of your system, stay more comfortable and save money.
Your heating system:
- Similar to your car needing tune-ups to make it perform well, so does your furnace or boiler. Tune-ups not only assure it is operating properly; it also returns it to peek efficiency. Regular maintenance on your heating equipment is relatively inexpensive and will pay dividends in energy savings, increased comfort and increased life expectancy.
- Set your thermostat at 68 degrees F. during the day and 60 degrees F. at night. You can save approximately 3 percent on your heating costs for every degree you reduce the temperature below 70 degrees F. ***Special Note to Heat Pump Owners: Heat pumps need to stay at a constant setting, unless you have a programmable electronic heat pump thermostat with adaptive recovery. Check with your heating or air conditioning contractor to determine the type of thermostat you have***.
- Turn your thermostat down when you’re not home for more than four hours. Never turn off your heating system entirely as you’ll not realize the expected savings and this may cause pipes to freeze.
- Use your bath, kitchen and other exhaust fans frugally. While in use, you’ll be blowing out conditioned air therefore bringing in outdoor air that is needed to re-heat, clean, re-humidify, etc. Leaving just one exhaust fan on can remove a houseful of heat in just two to three hours. Remember to turn them off when their purpose is complete.
- Maintain proper air circulation. Make sure all heating supply registers and cold-air return registers and grills are clear of draperies, furniture and the like.
- You should clean or replace the filter(s) in your forced-air heating system each month. While foam filters can be rinsed with water (be sure they’re dry before replacing) fiberglass filters should be replaced with new ones.
- Open your draperies and shades open during the day to let the sunshine in, but close them at night to help keep the heat in.
- If you have an open masonry fireplace you should install a glass screen or a balloon fireplace damper to stop the loss of warm air through the fireplace chimney during non-use.
- For your system’s ductwork that is outside the conditioned area, the duct joints should be properly sealed to stop conditioned air from escaping to the outside. Make sure you use a mastic or tape designed for this purpose.
- The human body gives off heat, so dress wisely to retain your natural heat.
Your cooling system:
- Keep your cooling system well tuned with regular maintenance performed by a licensed HVAC professional.
- Make sure your central air conditioning unit is correctly sized for your home and is the highest efficiency available. High Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEERs) should be 13.0 SEER and above.
- You can install a whole-house ventilating fan in your attic to circulate air in your home on milder days when air conditioning isn’t required.
- Set your thermostat at 78°, which is a reasonably comfortable and energy efficient indoor temperature.
- Don’t set your thermostat at a cooler setting than normal when turning on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster, and it will cool it to a lower temperature than you need and use substantially more energy.
- Your thermostat shouldn’t be near lamps or television sets, as the heat from these appliances will cause your system to run longer than required.
- Consider using a ceiling fan when your air conditioner is running. The air it circulates will accelerate your body’s natural evaporation rate, making you feel cooler.
- You should clean or replace the filter(s) in your forced-air heating system each month. While foam filters can be rinsed with water (be sure they’re dry before replacing them), fiberglass filters should be replaced with new ones.
- Keep the sun out during the day. Keep your draperies, blinds and shades drawn during the day on the sunny side of your home.
- Try to cook and use other heat-generating appliances earlier in the morning and later in the evening whenever possible.
Sealing your homes air leaks:
- It’s recommended to have a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Health, Safety and Energy Audit performed, by a certified contractor, to identify where energy is escaping from your home. As an example, don’t waste energy by heating or cooling your attic because of air seeping around your attic door or attic access.
- Insulate your attic floor to a minimum of R-38. The R-values indicates the resistance of an insulation material to heat flow. The higher the number the more effective the insulating capability.
- Don’t insulate over eave vents or on top of recessed lighting fixtures or other heat producing equipment on the attic floor. Also, keep insulation at least 3 inches away from the sides of these types of fixtures.
- Insulate your heating and cooling ducts in unheated or uncooled areas.
- To save up to 5% of your heating/cooling cost, test your windows and doors for air tightness. Add weather stripping and caulk where necessary.
Hot water heater:
- When replacing your water heater, purchase a high-efficiency unit. Most homeowners have a .54 efficiency water heater, so purchase a unit with a high Energy Factor (EF) rating. The higher the rating the more efficient. The best ratings are those of .91 and above.
- Make sure your water heater temperature is set to 120 degrees F. or less, or on the “warm” setting.
- Insulate the outside of your water heater with an insulation blanket to reduce heat loss. Make sure the blanket is correctly and safely installed.
- Make sure washers and clothes dryers are full but don’t overload them.
- Wash clothes in warm or cold water and rinse in cold.
- To avoid increased drying time and wasting energy, keep dryer’s lint screen clean and the outside exhaust free of obstructions.
- You can save energy by using an old-fashioned clothesline.
Energy-saving ideas for the kitchen:
- Use cold, not hot, water when operating your garbage disposal.
- Always boil water with a cover on the pot. Water comes to a boil faster, therefore using less energy.
- To save time and energy thaw frozen foods before cooking.
- When cooking small meals, use a small electric cooking appliance versus an oven or kitchen range as they use more energy.
- Don’t fully preheat your oven; only preheat it for ten minutes.
- Turn off the oven five to ten minutes before the cooking time is up and let trapped heat finish the cooking.
- Install a low-flow aerator in your kitchen sink faucet.
- Don’t constantly open and close the oven door to check the food. Doing so allows the heat to escape, therefore using more energy to complete the cooking. It’s better to watch the clock or use a thermometer and peer through the oven window to check temperatures.
- To reduce energy, use microwaves and pressure cookers because they save energy by reducing cooking times.
- Avoid using your broiler; it’s a big energy user.
- Avoid using the pre-rinse cycle by scraping dishes and rinsing with cold water before loading them into the dishwasher.
- Be sure your dishwasher is full before running it.
- Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold, open the refrigerator/freezer door only when necessary, and don’t hold it open longer than necessary.
- Test how airtight your refrigerator door seals are by closing the door on a dollar bill, so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the dollar bill out easily, adjust the door hinge or replace the seals to make it tight.
- Try not to place your refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight or near a stove.
Saving energy in the bathroom:
- Repair leaky faucets.
- Take showers rather than baths, but limit both your showering time and the water flow, if you want to save energy.
- Install a low-flow showerhead. Not only do they save water, they also save energy producing hot water.
- Install a low-flow aerator on the sink.
- Don’t let water run while shaving; it wastes hot water and the energy used to heat it
- Always turn off lights in any room not being occupied.
- Use compact fluorescent bulbs. They produce three to four times as much light per watt as incandescent bulbs.
- Halogen bulbs are another energy-efficient choice for indoor and outdoor lighting and use about 25% less energy than traditional incandescent ones.
- Installing solid-state dimmers as they make it easy to reduce lighting intensity in a room, saving energy.
- Try to use one larger bulb rather than several smaller ones in areas where bright light is needed.
- Turn on outdoor lights only when needed.
- Control lighting with motion detectors or photocell controls.