Battle winter heating bills

| by Joe Holliday
Battle winter heating bills

It’s official, it’s Fall, which means pumpkin spice lattes, cute kids in Halloween costumes and colder weather. And, with colder weather typically comes higher utility bills.

Now is the ideal time to start thinking about some simple steps to keep energy costs as low as possible. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), home heating and cooling account for 56 percent of the energy use in the average U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homeowners.

So how can you avoid costly hikes in your utility bills? Here are a few tips!

Air sealing is a must.

One of the most cost-effective upgrades—air sealing—makes the home more energy efficient and comfortable. This is especially true for homes more than 10 years old, which usually have major air leaks in the living spaces and building shell. Even the most efficient heating and cooling systems can be ineffective and expensive if they’re blowing air directly out of the home. Consult a professional to ensure proper air ventilation.

Incorporate a direct-vent wall furnace.

Another option is to incorporate a natural gas- or propane-fueled direct-vent wall furnace—capable of heating up to 1,200 square feet of space. Direct vent wall furnaces differ from conventional heating systems because the units do not rely on ductwork to distribute heat. Instead, the furnaces operate by dispersing warm air directly from the base of the unit. This creates a more consistent and comfortable room temperature and reduces troublesome cold spots. Direct vent wall furnaces can also serve as a supplementary heat source for basements or rarely used spaces, such as guest rooms, therefore, reducing the demand placed on the central-heating system.

Install ceilings fans.

Typically, individuals use fans to cool off, but by reversing the fan’s blades to a clockwise direction, hot air is forced downward towards the room. This creates a more comfortable environment with better heat circulation and assists in eliminating pesky hot and cold spots.

Upgrade your water heater.

Sometimes the only thing that gets you going during the winter months is knowing that you have a hot shower waiting for you—but what if you didn’t? What if you got out of your warm bed and jumped into the shower only to learn someone used all the hot water? Not to mention heating water can add to an already escalating energy bill during the coldest months.

If your home is equipped with a tankless water heater, running out is never a problem. Because tankless water heaters operate only when the need for hot water is detected and shut down when the demand for hot water ceases, they use less energy—in some cases up to 40 percent less energy—than tank-style water heaters and produce an endless supply of hot water.

And speaking of energy, water heaters are the second-largest energy user in homes and account for more than 14 percent of national residential energy consumption.

Install a programmable thermostat.

A programmable thermostat allows you to “set it and forget it” based on you and your family’s typical activity patterns. Per the DOE, turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hourscan save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill. 

Hang insulated curtains.

Selecting insulated curtains—preferably those that include acrylic or high-density foam insulation and reflective film—for your home can help reduce drafts and heat loss. And, as an added benefit, insulated curtains can also help block sound. Once adorning the windows, make sure the curtains are open during the day to allow as much sun in as possible, and therefore, heat into the house. Draw the curtains at night to retain as much of the heat as possible.

Remember these practical tips and enjoy the impact they can have on both your wallet and your living spaces. 

Topics: Energy Star, Going Green, Heating & Cooling, Maintenance & Repair, Water Heaters

Companies: Rinnai

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