Saving energy is a year-round battle for most homeowners. Taking a proactive approach and getting ready for the cooler weather is the best way to control your household energy use and the associated costs. These strategic fall and winter energy-saving tips can help:
Energy-Saving Heating Tips
You can maximize home comfort and cost savings on energy during the heating season by taking these steps:
- Install a programmable thermostat. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advises that scheduling a daily 10- to 15-degree temperature setback for an eight-hour period can reduce heating costs by 5 to 15 percent. The greatest savings are achieved in milder climates, so you can expect to gain a significant benefit.
- Monitor the indoor humidity level. When humidity levels drop in the winter, you’ll spend more on energy since dry air is harder to heat. To ensure comfort and efficient heating, it’s important to maintain indoor humidity between 45 and 55 percent. An inexpensive device called a hydrometer that measures the amount of moisture in the air can help you decide if using a humidifier is warranted.
- Maintain the HVAC system. A yearly professional inspection and tuneup keeps your furnace operating efficiently and safely, and boosts your comfort. During a maintenance visit, a knowledgeable HVAC technician can also find and fix any small problems before they escalate, which can help you avoid future repair bills.
- Perform monthly air filter checks. Replacing the filter whenever it’s dirty can cut your seasonal energy costs by 5 percent.
- Check the accessible ductwork for leaks. You can do this yourself by holding a smoke pencil up to the joints and seams while the blower fan is running. When the smoke dances, you’ve identified a spot that needs to be sealed with metal-backed tape or mastic sealant. You’ll benefit from duct sealing year-round, because leaky ducts can cost up to 30 percent of the HVAC system’s output.
- Keep the HVAC registers clean and unobstructed. Vacuum the registers regularly, and ensure they’re not blocked by furniture, rugs or draperies.
- Let the sun shine in. Keep the shades or blinds open on all south-and west-facing windows on sunny days, and close them at night to add a layer of insulation.
Energy-Savings Water Heating Tips
Operating a tank-style water heater accounts for about 14 percent of the annual energy use in an average home. For greater control of your water heating energy consumption and costs:
- Install an insulated blanket on your older water heater to cut standby heat loss. You can judge whether it’s necessary by touching the tank. If it feels warm, you can benefit from adding this extra layer of insulation.
- Flush the tank every fall to get rid of sediment that can block critical heat transfer and shorten the unit’s service life. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions in your owner’s manual.
- Adjust the thermostat temperature setting to 120 degrees. Most water heater manufacturers set the thermostat at 140 degrees. Making a 20-degree adjustment not only will slash energy waste, it’ll help lengthen the unit’s lifespan by slowing sediment build-up.
Energy-Saving Weatherization and Insulation Tips
When you take measures to weatherize and insulate, you can decrease household energy usage and monthly utility bills all year long. Here are some effective ways to save:
- Tighten up the exterior to stop air infiltration. Caulk around the windows and add weatherstripping around the exterior doors. Use an appropriate caulking and/or expandable foam sealant to block holes and gaps around electrical wiring, plumbing pipes and HVAC vents that penetrate the home’s shell.
- Install a radiant barrier on the floor of the attic. Although the barrier material has no insulating R-value in itself, it can help block heat transfer during all seasons. Your living space will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
- Add adequate insulation on the attic floor. The DOE recommends having a minimum of R-38 in the attic in this region. Make sure that air leaks are identified and sealed first, and that you insulate around recessed lights, knee walls and the attic hatch as well.
- Choose tight-fitting energy-efficient drapes or shades that can help reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer
To learn more targeted fall and winter energy-saving tips, contact us at Valderrama A/C & Refrigeration today. We’ve been helping residents of South Houston and other communities in the area with home comfort needs for more than 28 years.
Image Provided by Shutterstock.com