By Cheryl Reed
Most consumers, when faced with the chance to spend $2,000 would likely do at least a little bit of bargain shopping before they plunked down their cold, hard cash.
Chop it up into 12 payments that fluctuate seasonally, though, and the drive to trim costs isn’t as strong – especially when the monthly bill isn’t that much. Yep. We’re talking HVAC costs.
Saving on home heating bills is one of the easiest ways to cut back on household expenses. Most of us know that fixing leaks in windows and doors is a must; that air filters should be switched out at least every quarter or so; and to stop messing around with the thermostat. But did you know about these six tips to trim the heat bill and still stay toasty?
• Ductwork: You may be losing up to 20 percent of the warm air moving through your duct system to leaks and poor connections. Sealing up these air leaks with caulk, spray foam, and/or weather stripping will keep that warm air where you want it. Air leaks should always be sealed before insulation is applied to improve the efficiency of the insulation.
• Insulation: Heat rises, so you don’t want to help it escape. Check the amount – and grade — of insulation in your attic. Having the proper amount and R-value for your area will keep the warm air in. The U.S. Department of Energy has a quick way to determine your R-value: http://web.ornl.gov/~roofs/Zip/ZipHome.html
• Programmable thermostats: Constantly changing the temperature on your thermostat is a sure-fire way to burn energy dollars inefficiently. Many heating systems have optimum temperature ranges that ensure top energy efficiency. Consult your owner’s manual or your service technician to find out the most energy-efficient temperature range for you. Programming the thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours at a time during the heating season can save you 5 to 15 percent in heating bills each year, according to the DOE.
• Professional look-see: Annual, professional maintenance of your system, is an excellent way to increase efficiency and extend the life of the system itself. A professional service team can fully clean the unit, change filters in the furnace and humidifier, and identify any budding problems.
• Couch blockade: Check your heat registers. Are they clear of obstructions? A couch, chair or bookcase that blocks good airflow can trap the heat you want in your air.
• Solar power: The sun is essentially free energy that you can use. By keeping the blinds up and the curtains open on a sunny winter day, your home will suck in the heat. Close the curtains at night to keep the heat inside.