Conserving Energy and Cutting Costs
Heating and cooling your home consumes a significant amount of energy and constitutes a major portion of your home’s utility expenses, typically contributing to around 54% of your total bill.
Regardless of your home’s heating and cooling system, you can save money and enhance your comfort by appropriately maintaining and upgrading your equipment. Keep in mind that the impact of an energy-efficient furnace alone on your energy bills may not be as substantial as adopting a holistic approach. By integrating proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat adjustments, you can reduce your energy consumption for heating and cooling by 20%-50% and simultaneously decrease environmental emissions.
Adjust your programmable thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting in winter and the highest comfortable setting in summer. Depending on the season, modify the set-point when sleeping or away from home. Regularly clean or replace filters on furnaces and air conditioners, following the recommended frequency of once a month. Maintain warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed, ensuring they are unobstructed by furniture, carpeting, or drapes. Purge trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season. If uncertain about the process, seek professional assistance. Install heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and radiators. Switch off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after cooking or bathing. When replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models. In winter, open draperies and shades on south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight in, and close them at night to reduce cold window chill. In summer, keep window coverings closed during the day to block out the sun’s heat.
STRATEGIES FOR LONG-TERM SAVINGS
Opt for energy-efficient products when investing in new heating and cooling equipment. Consult your contractor for energy fact sheets on different types, models, and designs to facilitate comparisons of energy usage. For furnaces, prioritize those with high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but ENERGY STAR® models are available with AFUE exceeding 90%. When selecting air conditioners, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners, while ENERGY STAR models boast 14.5 SEER or higher.