With the cost of natural gas predicted to rise more than 30 percent over last year, homeowners throughout the country are bracing for big heating bills this winter. In addition to higher energy prices, demand could outpace supply, and winter weather could be slightly colder than last year.
Whether we live in cold regions like the Northeast or in hot regions like the South where we use the air conditioner for many months, we should practice saving energy all year long.
Here are some tips from our real estate agents that can help you counteract the higher prices this winter.
- Plan for Preventive Maintenance.
You may think it's an unnecessary expense if nothing seems wrong with your HVAC equipment, but trust us, investing in preventative maintenance in spring and fall, before peak cooling and heating seasons, is well worth the cost. An HVAC tech can discover problems that may make your system run less efficiently. With a furnace, the tech will ensure burners are clean and look for signs of corrosion. Failing parts should be replaced before they cause a breakdown.
Most importantly, always change your HVAC filter according to the manufacturer's recommendations, or have your tech do it if you can't. A clean filter will help keep airborne pollutants out of your air supply; further, the heating equipment will run more efficiently as air flows through the system without slowing down and causing friction that can damage the parts and boost your heating bills.
- Let the thermostat help you save.
If you don't have a programmable or Wi-fi thermostat, it may be time for an upgrade. You can save energy by setting your temperature back a few degrees at night when you're sleeping or during the day when the home's occupants are away. These thermostats do the work of remembering when to turn down the heat, so you don't have to.
- Use an efficient space heater for cold spots.
Space heaters are more efficient than they used to be. While you don't want to heat your entire house with them, you might have one or two for those cold spots in your home that never seem to get warm. Always follow safety precautions with a space heater.
- Air seal your home.
Small cracks in walls, around doors and windows, and along baseboards can let out warm air and let in the cold. Test for air leaks with a lit stick of incense. If the lit end glows, you could have an air leak. Use caulk, weatherstripping, and insulation to seal cracks.
- Turn on the ceiling fan—clockwise.
If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, switch it so blades are going clockwise. This motion can help push down warm air from the ceiling, which will push aside cold air that hovers at floor level.
- Turn off all your appliances and electronic equipment when not in use.
This phantom electrical use may not amount to a big expense, but over time, it adds up. Plug electronics and other equipment into a surge protector that can be turned off when the household goes to bed. You can use a power strip for this purpose, but be mindful of what appliances or devices you're plugging into it. Surge protectors are safer.
For more energy-saving suggestions, contact us today.