Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Six Ways to Get More Out of Your Heating System

Source: www.energy.gov
change furnace filter

Space heating is the largest single energy user in most homes, accounting for 42 percent of residential energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. While upgrading to a new, energy-efficient heating system is the best way to lower your winter energy bills, the following are six things you can do throughout your home to save money and improve the comfort of your family by increasing the efficiency of your current system:

  1. Maintain your system. Have your heating system cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional before the start of each heating season. Make sure a clean filter is in place and replace it according to manufacturer's guidelines.
  2. Increase insulation. Poorly insulated homes waste money and are less comfortable. Make sure your home is insulated according to recommended levels. Inspect the insulation in your attic and check the R-value. Evaluating wall insulation is more difficult. Shut off power to an outlet and check behind it to measure the thickness of the insulation in the wall. An insulation contractor can conduct a thorough analysis.
  3. Close the gaps. Openings around attic joists, electrical lines, and plumbing and gas pipes that enter from outdoors can result in significant air leakage. Seal these areas with a do-it-yourself spray foam insulation product.
  4. Weatherize doors and windows. Check for gaps around exterior doors and install weather stripping if needed. Inspect windows for cracked or missing caulk and re-caulk if necessary. Weather stripping and caulk are available at your local hardware or home improvement store.
  5. Seal air ducts. Over time, ducts can develop leaks, holes and poor connections. In areas you can reach, seal all ductwork with mastic or metal tape. Insulate ductwork in unheated areas, such as attics and crawlspaces. Contact a heating professional if you suspect more serious ductwork problems.
  6. Use window treatments. During the day, open shades and curtains on south-facing walls to let in the warming sunlight. Close them at night to help keep in warm air.

A home energy assessment is a great way to identify opportunities for improving the performance of your heating system and the energy efficiency of your entire home. An energy specialist can perform a blower door test, an infrared inspection and other tests to locate areas in your home where energy is being wasted.  

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