My house was built in the 1880′s so it’s not exactly “energy efficient.” The heating and cooling systems in a home use the most energy, so it’s the single area where you can save the most. This is the second in a series on some simple home improvements that I’ve done myself to reduce energy consumption and I’ve really seen savings on my utility bills. Today I’ll focus on home heating.
Home Heating Savings Tips
There are lots of cheap ways to reduce your heating costs. Most of these will also help with your cooling energy usage in the summer as well. Like water heating, it’s all about heat-loss and temperature control. Here are some ideas:
Install a Programmable Thermostat - You want to have your house be the warmest when you’re there and awake. When you’re gone or asleep, you can lower the thermostat. A programmable thermostat can save about 10% on your heating costs by doing that automatically for you. Most units run between $20 and $100 depending on what bells and whistles you want and are typically easy to install.
Seal and Insulate Ducts and Pipes - If you’ve got a forced-air heating system and can access your ducts, check to see if there are any leaks . A roll of foil tape is about $5-$10 and is a great fix. I spent about 30 minutes doing this and sealed a TON of leaks. Insulating heat ducts, particularly in attics and crawl spaces, will also save energy from heat loss. If you use hot water or steam systems (radiators or baseboard) you should insulate the pipes leading to and from the boiler.
Sealing Air Leaks – Again, my house is old. There are lots of spots that are letting in cold air or letting out warm air. The Dept. of Energy has a great page showing all the places a house can have air leaks. In my basement I’ve use a $4 can of insulating spray foam to fill in those cracks and gaps and keep the cold out. Other places to seal and insulate are any place where something is coming in from outside the home or going outside. This could be the dryer vent, pipes, cable wires and electrical lines. Seal around doors with weather stripping (about $5-$10) and install a pliable seal to the bottom or the door ($5-$10).
Window Insulation – Unless you’ve got new windows, this is a huge area of heat loss in your home. There are a lot of ways to seal your windows that mostly involve wrapping them in plastic. If you’re handy, you could create an internal storm window. I’ve purchased a product that will seal 10 windows for $11 and will improve the R-value by 90% on each window. Also use weather seal around the windows to create tighter gaps and reduce leaks.
Regular Maintenance - Your heating system is just like your car – it requires regular maintenance to keep running at peak performance. It’s not the cheapest way to save money, but it’s certainly necessary to avoid breakdowns and keep the heating system running at top efficiency. Replacing a system will cost thousands so the longer you can keep your current system going, the better.
Home Heating Safety Reminders
Safety is the #1 priority at AmeriGas. Here are some things to remember about water heating:
Install a CO Alarm - Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that is emitted from burning gas or oil appliances. If your appliance isn’t working correctly it could emit this gas into your home, putting you and your family at risk. Alarms can be $20-30 and could save your life.