How to Heat Your Home Efficiently
Warmer temperatures extending into November may have led you to believe winter isn't coming. Well, winter is still on its way, and according to weather predictions, it's going to come with a cold, snowy vengeance for many parts of the country. Due to the particularly cold-forecasted winter, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts home heating costs will rise across the board with natural gas increasing by 12 percent, home heating oil by 17 percent, electricity by 8 percent, and propane by 18 percent.
The good news is that if you heat your home efficiently, you can save on heating bills. Follow these tips and stress less about your heat this winter, because no one should have to sacrifice comfort for savings:
- Close the door: No one leaves a door wide open all winter, right? Wrong. In many homes, air infiltration due to gaps in doors, windows, and exterior walls is equivalent to a door being left open all winter long. To fix this issue, check your home's exterior doors for air leaks. You can use an infrared thermal camera or take a lit candle around the door frame to see where leaks are. If the candle flame blows towards you then there's a draft. Seal a drafty door by installing felt or foam weatherstripping from your local hardware store. Don't forget to check for air leaks/cracks in siding, your home's foundation, and around windows. The candle method works for windows, as well. Use caulk for small gaps and foam sealer for larger ones. As my good friend Doug Rye, an architect focused on energy-efficiency, says, the first cause of heat loss is air infiltration, the second cause is air infiltration, and the third cause is air infiltration. You get the picture; air infiltration is detrimental for your systems efficiencies and heating costs.
- Pay attention to your attic insulation: The Department of Energy states that increasing or improving your home's insulation is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce heat loss. Before adding insulation, look at the condition of your attic. If your insulation is damp or the rafters are moldy, you may have a moisture problem, which needs to be addressed prior to adding or replacing insulation. Next, check for any air leaks in your attic, which can be filled with expanding foam or caulk. When air sealing your attic, remember that attics require some air ventilation. If you're concerned about proper air ventilation, consult a professional. Once the attic has been air-sealed with proper ventilation, it's time to select the insulation that's right for your home. There are many types of insulation to choose from, including spray foam, fiberglass, mineral wool, and cellulose. I recommend foam and cellulose, because they minimize air infiltration. Many people are now encapsulating their attic by foaming the roof deck. There are three things to consider when choosing insulation type: the R-value, available space, and cost. The R-value is a rating for the insulation's thermal resistance, and the higher the R-value, the better the insulation. The recommended R-value varies depending on where you live. Find your recommended R-value here.
- Programmable thermostats aren't the answer:The idea that programmable thermostats have this huge impact on energy savings and efficiency hurts homeowners in the long run. To see actual savings from this approach, you would have to leave your home at the lower temperature for at least one week, not the eight hours you're at work. Short spurts of lower temperatures take just as much energy as leaving the thermostat where you feel comfortable, even when you're not there. What you save by reducing the temperature in those few hours will be spent when you come home and have to bring everything in your home up to your desired comfort setting. Why not walk in to a comfortable home that's ready for you every time you open the door? This can be achieved with high-performance systems, like geothermal heating and cooling. Since most homeowners with a geothermal system see a 50 to 70 percent reduction in their heating cost, they can leave the thermostat where they feel most comfortable 24/7, because they're always efficiently heating.
High-efficiency heating starts at the source: your home's exterior walls and roof and your heating system. If you focus your efforts in those places, you'll be experiencing savings and helping the environment before the end of this winter, and you'll be prepared for many winters to come.
This blog was developed by GeoComfort Geothermal Systems. All posts, sponsored and un-sponsored have been reviewed and approved by the Sustainable Community Media Editorial Team to ensure quality, relevance/usefulness and objectivity.
Companies: GeoComfort Geothermal Systems
Steve Smith is the CEO of GeoComfort, a geothermal heating and cooling brand dedicated to producing high-quality, energy-efficient systems.www