For most Hoosiers, space heating accounts for over 50% of the monthly energy bills. There could be things you are doing right now to make that bill higher than it has to be! Smart homeowners know that energy efficiency is more than just having the latest appliances. Still, there is a lot of misinformation out there and what some think are helpful tricks could be hurting your efficiency. We separate fact from fiction.
Mistake: Closing Vents in Unoccupied Rooms
Heating or cooling a space is a simple math problem. How large is the space you want to heat and how much hotter do you want it to get? Some homeowners mistakenly think that closing the heating vents in an unused bedroom will lower the total square footage that needs to be heated in the home, but this is not true!
The heater in your home is designed to push warm air through all of your ductwork. If you close off one potential exit, that will only increase the pressure in your ducts because the same amount of air is being produced no matter what! This can lead to air leaks developing in your ducts if they can’t handle the added pressure. Air leaks lower efficiency and could require costly repairs. Overall, closing vents gives no benefits and could actually lead to more wasted energy!
Solution: Let Your Ducts Work as Intended
Your ductwork is designed to evenly heat your home. Leave the vents open, so you don’t damage them in the future.
Mistake: Closing Doors in the Interior of Your Home
This myth comes out of the same flawed approach as mistake #1. You may have experienced doors closing, or cracked doors swinging open when you crank the thermostat in your home. This all has to do with air pressure. The air in your home is constantly moving, especially when you have your heater going. Cold air is being drawn into your system where it is heated and distributed throughout your house. You can easily end up with too much heated air in a room, which is then forced through windows, gaps and cracks, causing efficiency to go down. The rest of your house experiences the opposite effect. With air being pulled into the closed-off room, cold air can come in through small openings and gaps in windows and doors.
Solution: Don’t Trap Air in One Room
You’ll just create pressurized air that will escape through windows. Leave the doors open as much as you can!
Mistake: Ignoring Drafts
A drafty home can sap your energy efficiency. Your heater is working hard to heat the air in your home, but if that air is just being replaced by cold outside air your furnace will never achieve anything. Heating systems are designed to heat homes that are relatively sealed off from the outside air. While it’s almost impossible to ensure a 100% air seal on your home, getting as close to that as possible can increase efficiency. The main culprits for drafts are the gaps between doors and windows. Over time, windows and doors become loose and without any extra insulation, they can leak a lot of warm air out of the home. Luckily, homeowners can help out their doors and windows with relatively cheap solutions.
Solution: Air-seal Your Home
Caulking windows and weatherstripping your home is a great start and replacing old insulation can help too!
Mistake: Dirty Filters and Vents
Indoor air quality is determined in part by the cleanliness of your vents and filters. This can be done in a few minutes by most homeowners, but many neglect it. Your floor vents can get packed with food crumbs, pet hair, and dust. Cleaning them out routinely can ensure air flows smoothly through with the added bonus that it makes the air you breathe a little bit cleaner. Your main filter is a part of your furnace and should be changed every 30 to 90 days. Never leave it for more than three months if you want to ensure great air quality in your home.
Solution: Clean and Replace
Floor vents are easily accessible and can fill up with dirt quickly. Make cleaning them out a part of your home cleaning routine. Vents replacements are fairly easy and are vital to indoor air quality!
Mistake: Using a Non-Programmable Thermostat
Traditional manual thermostats need someone to decide to change the temperature, whereas programmable thermostats can change the temperature based on guidelines you set up. Are you always out of the house at the local football game on Friday nights? Maybe you enjoy a lazy Sunday in and want to wake up to a toasty house when you get your morning coffee? You can set up your programmable thermostat to take care of all of that for you, ensuring you don’t waste energy heating your house when you don’t need to. Additionally, so-called “smart” thermostats can connect to an app on your phone and allow complete control even when you’re out of the house. Either one is a great way to up your efficiency without doing a costly full appliance upgrade.
Solution: Install One Today
A programmable thermostat can run you about $100 and smart thermostats usually go for around $200, but can make a huge difference in month-to-month savings!
As you can see, there’s plenty of small ways to lower your energy bill. Daily habits and small upgrades can make a huge difference, but don’t necessarily change the health of your whole system. This is where preventative maintenance comes in!
No matter how much you weatherstrip your doors or refrain from closing duct vents, heating units do break down. Just like someone who eats healthy and exercises still needs checkups, your HVAC systems need preventative maintenance.
Your energy bills are only one measure of the health of your HVAC unit. Trained specialists can inspect your home for indoor air quality and ensure you’re not in danger of mold spores growing in your ductwork or carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty furnace. Asthma, allergies and other health problems can be exacerbated by poor indoor air quality and you may not realize it.
As we have seen, good heating habits can trim your bills, but they may not stop the eventual breakdown of a furnace. Preventative maintenance can ensure that you won’t have to deal with costly repairs in the future that could break the bank. One malfunctioning part of your heater can easily lead to more problems. If the fans fail, the exchanger can soon follow and the repair bill will skyrocket. Spending a little bit of money on routine maintenance can save a lot in the long run.
Lastly, maintenance will ensure the unit is running at peak efficiency so that the good habits we discussed above can be that much more effective. An HVAC technician can help heater distribute hot air evenly and steadily throughout your home, which is essential to escape the cold Hoosier winters.
The health of your HVAC system starts with you but getting an HVAC professional to perform preventative maintenance is essential as well. Our technicians at Complete Comfort Heating, Plumbing and Air Conditioning can give your HVAC system the routine checkup in needs. Give us a call, we’re available 24/7 at (317) 671-7552.