A combination of greater environmental awareness and ever-increasing energy costs has been creating a lot of interest in recent years about how to improve a home’s efficiency. To that end, this article will focus on some of the most cost-effective tips and tricks for keeping bills low this winter.
Consider a Heater Upgrade
If a heating system is nearing the end of its anticipated usable lifespan, the chances are good that it’s not operating very efficiently anymore. Every furnace loses efficiency over time, and newer models are designed with the needs of today’s families in mind. Installing a new, more efficient furnace can help to keep bills low.
Install a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats can be controlled remotely using phones, tablets, and other connected devices. They are programmable and can even be incorporated into home automation systems, allowing them to learn about users’ preferences and adjust temperatures as needed to maximize both comfort and efficiency. Smart thermostats are also an excellent option because they provide savings year-round.
Older homes often lack the level of insulation required to maximize heating efficiency. The best way to determine whether replacing or augmenting the insulation is necessary is to check the current R-values and compare them to the recommended values for the climate zone. The good news for homeowners that find their current insulation to be insufficient is that there are many programs available to help pay for basic weatherization measures.
Seal the Building Envelope
Adequate insulation won’t be enough to keep the heat in and the cold out if there are air gaps throughout the home. Sealing the building envelope more effectively gets rid of these gaps along with thermal bridges made of materials that conduct heat. Common culprits for air gaps include the areas around windows, doors, and utility lines that come into and out of the home.
Stay on Top of Furnace Maintenance
Furnace maintenance accomplishes several goals. It maintains manufacturers’ warranties, extends the longevity of the equipment, and helps it perform more efficiently. In this case, it’s the increase in efficiency that helps. Whether the furnace is brand-new or it’s been in use for a decade, there’s no excuse for skipping annual tune-ups or for ignoring basic maintenance requirements like air filter changes.
Install a Heat Recovery Ventilator
Heat recovery ventilators are systems designed to remove the heat from a central heating system’s exhaust, then route it to the fresh intake air. Common exhaust systems include bathroom fans, oven hoods, and dryers. Installing heat recovery ventilators on all of these appliances can capture up to 90% of the heat being lost while simultaneously helping to remove excess moisture from the air, reducing mold and odors.
Now’s the Time to Make a Change
While it’s true that many of the steps described above require an initial investment, they all pay off in the form of lower monthly bills. Ecologically conscious homeowners will also appreciate the fact that improving the energy efficiency of their homes also helps to reduce their carbon footprints and protect the environment.