Are you concerned about the high cost of heating your home this winter? There are a variety of different issues that can prevent your heating system from working properly or cause your home to always feel cold. Many of these problems can easily be prevented by taking a few simple steps to help you better conserve heat and lower your energy costs this winter.
Have Your Attic Sealed and Insulated
Poorly sealed and/or insufficiently insulated attics are one of the biggest sources of heat loss and energy waste. Attic leaks and lack of insulation have the potential to raise your yearly heating costs by 30% or more. The hot air from your heating system will always rise and settle near the ceiling. If there isn’t enough insulation in your ceiling/attic floor, the hot air will escape the room and flow out into the attic. This means your home will always stay colder and your heating system will need to run much more frequently.
This issue is compounded if your attic isn’t well sealed as this will let the hot air escape outside. Still, the bigger issue is that all of that air escaping will change the air pressure inside the building. Due to the laws of physics, air pressure always attempts to remain in equilibrium. Whenever the pressure is higher in one area and lower in another, air will move from the higher pressure area to the lower to fill the void and maintain an equal balance.
If the pressure inside drops due to air leaking out through the attic, it will cause cold air from outside to force its way into the building through any cracks or gaps in the structure. This problem can be prevented by having your attic inspected and professionally sealed or insulated if necessary.
Reseal Around Windows and Doors
Even if your attic is well sealed, some hot air will always be able to escape and allow cold air to penetrate inside the lower parts of the structure. This is why it is also important to make sure there are as few gaps in the building as possible. The areas around your door and window frames are especially prone to leaks and drafts. For this reason, it is always a good idea to check around all of the doors and windows in your home to see if you can feel cold air leaking in. If you do have any leaks, you will want to remove the old caulking and reseal around the entire frame on both the inside and outside of the window or door.
Replace Your Weather Striping
All windows and doors should have rubber weather stripping that helps to seal around the opening when they are shut. If the weather stripping is cracked, damaged, or missing, it can allow a huge amount of cold air to come inside. Windows typically only have a weather strip on either the bottom or side, depending on which way they open. Doors should have weather stripping around the sides and the top and bottom. If you notice any major drafts, you should replace the weather stripping to prevent cold air from leaking inside. If you have an older home and your exterior doors aren’t hanging evenly or properly aligned, you may also want to take additional measures to keep the cold out such as adding a closer strip or keeping a towel or rug tight up against the door.
Keep Your Ceiling Fans Running
Ceiling fans can be a great way to help stay cooler in the summer, and they can also be used to keep your home warmer in the winter by preventing all of the hot air from remaining up near the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan in reverse (clockwise) will force the hot air downwards so that the main part of the room stays warmer. This can allow you to set your thermostat a couple of degrees lower without any noticeable impact on your comfort. According to the EPA, lowering your thermostat and using ceiling fans to circulate the hot air has the potential to reduce your heating costs by up to 10%.
Only Use Exhaust Fans When Absolutely Necessary
Exhaust fans are great for preventing your kitchen from getting smoky and reducing steam and humidity in the bathroom after bathing. However, they will also draw lots of hot air and can quickly lower the temperature in your house. As exhaust fans draw air out of the house, it will also cause cold air to rush in to balance out the air pressure. This is why you should try to limit your use of exhaust fans in the winter to only those times when it is absolutely necessary.
Schedule a Fall Heating Tune-Up
This one isn’t necessarily about conserving heat and is more about making the most out of your heating system. Furnaces and other heating units need regular maintenance or else their performance and energy efficiency will begin to suffer. Having your heating system maintained by a certified HVAC technician each fall is the easiest and best way to make sure that it is working properly and heating your home effectively. It also helps to prevent any issues that could cause your heating system to suddenly stop working when it is needed most. Regular HVAC maintenance will lead to lower energy costs, improved comfort, and a longer lifespan for your entire heating system.
Keep Windows Uncovered During The Day
Sunlight contains a huge amount of heat even during the dead of winter, and you can use this to your advantage to help keep your home warm during the day. Keeping all of your curtains and window coverings open during the day will allow all of that heat inside and help to reduce the strain on your furnace. This is especially true if you have lots of south- or west-facing windows as these will receive the most sunlight during the hottest parts of the day.
Use Heavier Curtains to Keep Heat in at Night
While you should keep your window coverings open during the day, you will want to close them as soon as the sun goes down. Any type of window covering will act as a barrier to help keep the cold from seeping inside, but the effect will be greatest if you use heavy curtains or drapes to fully cover all of your windows.
Use Your Oven to Help With Heating
When we say use your oven to help with heating, we don’t mean leaving your oven on with the door open as this is obviously a huge waste of energy. If you find yourself needing to do this, it is an obvious sign that you need your heating system repaired or potentially your furnace replaced.
Instead, we mean leaving the oven door open after baking. If you keep the door open as soon as you shut the oven off, all of that heat from your oven can easily raise the temperature in your kitchen and the surrounding areas by up to a few degrees. While it may not sound like much, it can still help keep your home warmer and reduce the need to rely on your heating system.
At Miller’s Heating & Air Conditioning, our technicians are heating experts and can help ensure that your heating system is properly maintained and free of any issues that could hamper its performance. We repair and maintain all types of heating systems, and we also specialize in heating installations. We work on furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, ductless mini-splits, and radiant heating as well as air conditioners and cooling systems. We also offer a full range of residential plumbing and electrical services for customers in Norfolk and throughout the Virginia Beach area. Contact us today to schedule a heating tune-up or learn more about the ways you can save money and conserve heat this winter.