Unfortunately, utility bills often increase in cold weather even in warmer states like South Carolina. With simple changes, you can make your HVAC system more efficient and prevent uncomfortable drafts. Since your furnace won't need to work as hard, you can even reduce inconvenient, expensive breakdowns and extend your heater's life. Save energy in cool weather by using a programmable thermostat, wearing extra clothing, sealing leaks, and taking care of your heater.
Using a Programmable Thermostat
Use a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature when you're at work, asleep, or on vacation, and then set it to make your home warm and comfortable again before you wake up or come home. Many programmable thermostats can control different zones or areas, so you can save energy by setting different temperatures for different rooms. That way, your family can stay comfortable and avoid heating empty rooms or arguing over the thermostat. Zoning will save the most energy if your home is large or if it has more than one floor.
Programmable thermostats are easy to install, and many models have color touchscreens and connect to your smartphone, computer, or tablet wirelessly. That way, you can make changes from almost anywhere. You can connect some programmable thermostats to air pressure monitors near your HVAC system's air filter for easy reminders of when to change the filter.
Wearing Warmer Clothing
When it's chilly outside, wear a cozy sweater, and turn down the temperature in your house a few degrees to save energy and money. You can also add warmer socks, flannel pajamas, a comforter for your bed, and a lighter blanket for watching TV on the couch. If you still feel cold, add more layers of clothing when you're awake, and use more blankets at night. You can even add an electric blanket.
Sealing and insulating your home keeps energy from escaping or cold air from getting into your home. Insulation helps your home stay comfortable in fall and winter, but pests and bad weather can create gaps. Also, fiberglass and cellulose insulation can settle, and mold can grow, lowering your home's indoor air quality over time.
Before winter starts, check your attic or basement for gaps or thin spots in insulation and cold or drafty spots. You can replace old or damaged materials and get rid of drafts with spray foam insulation. Apply it yourself, or use a professional. It expands to stop heat loss, it's waterproof, and pests don't harm it.
You should also use caulk to seal cracks and gaps in other parts of your home, like window or door frames. Weather-stripping will keep air from escaping from the moving parts of windows and doors, especially where they touch your floors. If you can see light through the edges or bottom of a door or window when the lights are off in the room, caulk and weather-stripping will help you save money and energy. Use caulk for smaller leaks, and replace weather-stripping every few years to make sure it stays in good condition.
Taking Care of Your Heater
Have your furnace inspected and cleaned by a professional before you have to start using it every day. That way, your system will be more efficient, and you'll save energy. Sediment buildup can become a fire hazard in furnaces without regular cleaning as well.
You should clean your HVAC system's air registers regularly and make sure rugs, furniture, or curtains don't block them. Once per year, remove an air register to see if your ductwork is clean. Dirty ductwork usually has an obvious layer of dust or dirt, spider webs, pest droppings inside it that waste energy by blocking your system's airflow and spreads pollutants.
Change your air filter every one to three months. A dirty filter can decrease your HVAC system's airflow, efficiency, and indoor air quality. It can spread dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, mold, and other contaminants through your entire home.
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