How to Save Money on Home Heating

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Window/door insulation

You can improve the efficiency of the energy you use by insulating areas of your home where your heat might be escaping. Begin by exploring your attic. If you see black stains on the fiberglass in your attic, you are looking at dust. Dust is evidence of airflow, so it is important to seal these areas to prevent further drafts from making their way to the attic instead of circulating around your home. Even closing off the entry to your attic by covering it with blankets, painter cloths, or insulation sheets will allow you to slow drafts, preventing your warm air from escaping to a rarely used area.  

At the very best, these barriers will stop drafts altogether. Remember that heat rises, so the warmth from your furnace will naturally gravitate to the highest points in your home, including the attic.

In addition to insulating your attic, pay attention to cracks around your windows and doors, other passageways that allow heat to leave your home.  Like with your attic, it is important to seal these cracks, however small, to improve how well your heat is working for you.  Ideally, you should buy high-efficiency windows, but replacing all of your windows at once can produce a hefty bill.  A more affordable option is to replace your home’s windows with high-efficiency windows as they wear out.  Over time, the amount you save on heating costs will make the investment worth it.  Installing storm windows, a type of high-efficiency window, can improve your windows’ efficiency by up to 50%.

Placing plastic film around your windows will result in fewer drafts and prevent rattling, which can bring cold air into your home.  Another option is to install weather stripping around the movable joints of your windows and doors, which is especially useful in older homes.  To improve the sealing around window frames, apply a layer of caulk inside any cracks.  For spaces under outside doors, an easy entry for cold air, consider using door sweeps.  Even electrical outlets in your house’s outer walls can provide a passage for air.  A solution as simple and cheap as an outlet gasket can make a significant contribution to your savings over time.

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Thermostats

Turning your thermostat down even a few degrees can make your heating bill a little easier on the pocketbook: experts estimate a change of 3% on your bill for every degree you reduce your heat. You can also save money by turning down your heat when you leave the house for long periods of time or go to bed for the night. Just be sure that you don’t turn the heat down below 60 degrees if you have an older home in order to prevent your pipes from freezing and breaking.

“Smart” thermostats, or programmable thermostats, can help you reduce how much heat you use by changing the temperature for you. Simply program the thermostat on a timer, and the temperature will increase or decrease depending on the time of day. If you come home at 5:30 and would like the temperature to increase at 5:00 so you can return to a cozy house, a smart thermostat can do so – while keeping your house cool, and therefore lowering your heating bill, the rest of the day.


Areas seldom used

Much of your heat can be wasted in areas that you seldom use throughout the winter. To conserve heating costs, close up the rooms you won’t use for the majority of the season, like any extra bedrooms. If you have guests stay with you, you can always open up the room before they arrive to warm it up for them.

The same rule applies to vents: close up vents in these areas to keep heat from circulating there. And remember that heat rises: close up your fireplace damper to prevent heat from rising right through the chimney and out of the house.

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Water

Consumers often forget how much their hot water plays into their heating use. An easy way to save money is to turn down the water heater to 120 degrees. Nothing beats jumping out of a cozy bed into a cold shower, and with a hot water thermostat set to 115 to 120 degrees you generally won’t notice a difference in your morning routine.

Your shower can also start working for you if you install a low-flow shower head. While the pressure difference won’t be significant, you’ll see a substantial change in your water and heating bills. After all, low-flow shower heads use between 25 and 50 percent less hot water than a regular shower head.

Without due diligence, many daily activities can waste how water and money, but fortunately there are easy solutions. Cutting down on long showers, for example, can help you conserve the water you waste just standing under the faucet. Consider purchasing a waterproof shower timer to keep yourself from driving up your heating costs without even realizing it. Limit your dishwasher and laundry use to full loads only, and wash as many of your clothes as possible in cold water for significant savings. After all, 9/10 of the energy you use washing your clothes comes from heating the water alone. If you are interested in a more efficient water heater, contact a Slomin’s heating professional.


Heat circulation

Heating efficiency can diminish if you have furniture or rugs covering your heating vents. Be sure your vents are open and that the area over and around them is clear of any hindrances to air flow.

Another way to improve the circulation of your heat is by installing ceiling fans and running them in reverse over the course of the season. Because warm air rises, your ceiling fans will help circulate it around the room rather than allowing it to accumulate near the ceiling.

While you’re out for the day, turn down the thermostat and open the curtains or window shades: the light that streams in from southern windows will act as solar heat. When night falls, close the curtains or shades to trap all of the day’s heat inside.


Gaps in ductwork

Maximize your heating by checking that your ductwork is connected properly. Small gaps in attic ductwork might not seem that costly, but you can actually lose the majority of the heat traveling through them because of poor connections.

Once you’ve reconnected the gaps, look for areas of the ductwork that are pinched. These pinches reduce the efficiency of your airflow by acting as obstacles in a path. Do the same for pipes in the basement or any crawlspaces in your house. Any remaining gaps that exist after your brute-force reconnection efforts will require sealant or metal-backed tape that can handle conditions in these types of dark, dank places.

You can also wrap the outside of your ducts to best contain the warmth inside the tubes. Even with connected pipes and an efficient airflow, this extra layer of insulation will help because it will act as a blanket to warm the metalwork as heat travels through. If your ducts are near any electrical wires, consider calling a professional for assistance.  

The service cost will be worth the safety risk you’ll avoid. For questions about your heating equipment, contact us.

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Air leaks

Look for any holes where air might be seeping into your home. Some likely places include your baseboard, the edge of your floor, and places where your wall and ceiling connect. Exterior walls might also have holes in places where different materials come together. To find these leaks, look for gaps or holes in any of these areas as well as in any phone or cable lines or around air conditioning units that have been mounted in a wall or window. You may find air leaks in areas where caulk or weather stripping have not been well applied. If your doors and windows do not seal tightly, that is a good indication that air is seeping through those spaces.

With a family member or neighbor, you can detect larger cracks in your home by flashing a light over areas where you might have gaps when it is dark outside. Your family member or neighbor should stand outside and look for rays of light. If he or she sees light come through, you have discovered an air leak.

You can also detect gaps by placing a dollar bill beneath a door and window. If you close the door or window and can pull out the dollar bill without much resistance, the area is not optimally sealed.

To seal these air leaks, plug the cracks or gaps and seal them with caulk. If at any time you are experiencing difficulty with your home heating equipment, contact us.


Water pipes and water heater insulation

By wrapping your water heater with insulation, you can keep your water warm for a longer period of time – without using extra energy from the heater itself.  Newer water heaters often have built-in insulation, but if yours does not, simply cover it with an insulated jacket.  This is especially useful if your heater is in an unheated area, such as your garage or a poorly insulated room.  You will also want to wrap your water pipes if they run through areas that are not insulated in order to conserve as much hot water as possible.  Looking for a new water heater?  We can help.  Contact a Slomin’s heating professional today.

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Furnace off-season maintenance

Your furnace is a large piece of equipment, but something as small as an air filter can clog it up and prevent it from running effectively.  To keep your system operating at its best, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for its care.  Maintaining your system can help you save an average of three to ten percent on your heating bill.  Consider having your system checked in the spring or summer months, long before the winter season is on its way.  Checking your system when you don’t need it for basic warmth will allow you to fix any problems with little inconvenience to you and your lifestyle.  Schedule a preventative maintenance check by contacting us.


An investment in efficient equipment

Even if you don’t notice obvious problems with your furnace, you’re paying more for its inefficiency if it’s older than 15 years. New equipment is worth the investment in the amount you’ll save on your heating bill alone, but it will also give you less headaches in service time and fees. Loans are available from the Department of Energy to enable you to purchase energy-saving products or to buy a home with high efficiency. To find out how you can obtain tax credits from the Department of Energy for your home energy efficiency, check out the following: http://energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver. An energy-efficient system should have an insulation “R value” of 6 or higher.


LIPA, now operated by PSEG Long Island, also provides tax rebates through its energy programs.  
Learn more by visiting the following: http://www.pseg.com/home/save/manage_costs/rebates.jsp

The Department of Energy offers low-income families the opportunity to reduce their heating bills through the Weatherization Assistance Program. Program participants can reduce their bills by a third. To be eligible, families’ homes must not have been weatherized later than 1995. To learn more, visit http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wip/wap.html.

To make an investment in a more efficient home heating system, contact a Slomin’s heating professional today.


Overall energy bill

In any season, you can reduce your costs by finding ways to decrease your overall energy bill.  Many of these steps are small and simple, but they can be easy to forget.  By turning off the lights when you are not in the room, you can save hundreds of dollars each year.  Even unplugging devices when you are not charging them will help reduce your costs because plugs consume energy from your outlets even when they are turned off.

Another way to save is to pay close attention to equipment in your home to ensure that it is running efficiently. The more efficiently your equipment runs, the less energy it will require – and the smaller your monthly bills will be. For example, cleaning the lint filter after each load in the dryer can help optimize the machine’s performance and allow it to maintain a long lifespan.


Did you know?

As the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to heat your home, residential heating oil is the best way to stay comfortable in the winter!

 
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