Lower the Thermostat
Did you know that each degree you lower the thermostat on your heating system decreases your fuel bill by 3 percent. If you go from 72 degrees (F) down to 68 degrees (F) you’ll still be comfortable, but it can save up to 12 percent on your heating bill. If you’re using a coil-type thermostat, you’ll get more accurate readings if you clean it. Pop off the thermostat cover and gently swipe away the dust.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat allows you to preset temperatures for different times of the day. You don’t need to keep your home at 68 degrees all the time, for instance when you are not home and when you are sleeping. Although one shouldn’t be used with heat pumps, a programmable thermostat is a real money-saver with air-conditioning as well as with heat. Choose a setting on the low end when you’re sleeping or are away and go with a higher setting when you are up and about and need the heat (see table below for an example of settings) for savings of between 10 and 20 percent of your bill. Some units can store up to four temperature settings each day—e.g., morning, day, evening, night. All have a manual override switch. At Nebrasky Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, we can install a new programmable thermostat for you and show you how to use it.
Recommended Programmable Thermostat Settings
5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. = 68 degrees
9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. = 60 degrees
5:30 to 11 p.m. = 68 degrees
11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. = 60 degrees
Make sure the Flue is closed!
An open fireplace damper lets the same amount of heated air escape up the chimney as a wide-open 48-inch window lets out. Make sure your flue is closed when you don’t have a fire going. Try reducing the number of times you use your fireplace. As beautiful and romantic as it is, a roaring fire exhausts over 20,000 cubic feet of heated air per hour to the outside. It may feel warm by the fire, but every BTU that goes up the chimney is replaced by cold air pulled into the house elsewhere. And all that cold air has to be heated! If you love using your fireplace every few nights, consider installing a set of glass fireplace doors. Closing these doors when you go to bed prevents large volumes of heated air in the living space from escaping after the fire has gone out.
Move Furniture Away From Vents, Registers, and Radiators
Here’s a simple tip and it sounds like a no-brainer, but many times a couch, chair, or bed moved during the summer stays there in winter, blocking the flow of heat into the room. This wastes money and leads to cold rooms. With a forced-air system, blocking a supply or return vent can cause a house-wide pressure imbalance that disrupts the heat flow in the whole system.
Is your House Drafty? Close the Gaps.
Ever hear the term heat rises? It’s because of a physical principle called the “stack effect” which occurs when warm air rises and draws outside air into your home. To defeat it, cut down on spaces cold air can enter your house, like under a door to the outside. Seal this gap with a “door snake,” a long, thin cloth sack, like a bean bag. Fill it with dried peas or rice, something to make it heavy enough to stay in place. You can sew one using scrap fabrics. You can also keep some interior doors, such as those leading to hallways or near stairways, closed. This closes off natural air passageways so they can’t act as chimneys, allowing warm air to escape up through the house. At Nebrasky Plumbing, Heating and Cooling we can perform a Home Energy Assessment to pinpoint where your house is losing energy- and help you solve the problem.
Install a Door Sweep
If you feel cold air seeping beneath a door leading outside and find that using a door snake is inconvenient, install a draft-defeating nylon door sweep. You install this long, thin broom-like vinyl-and-pile attachment along the inside bottom edge of the door. Cut the sweep to fit with a hacksaw and keep it in place with four or five wood screws.
Change Your Furnace Filter
If you have a forced-air system, changing the furnace filter can save you some energy expenses (up to 5 percent) and keep dust down in your house. The system will last longer and be less likely to break down. The most popular 16 x 20-inch duct filters can be bought fairly inexpensively by the box. Change them monthly during heating season. Make sure to measure your air filter before shopping; they range in size from 12 x 12 inches to 30 x 30 inches. You can also use washable filters instead, they are more expensive but can last about five years. Or, you can always call on Nebrasky to service your equipment with our Home Care Club.