Heating your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home -- typically making up about 29% of your utility bill.
No matter what kind of heating system you have in your house, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can save about 30% on your energy bill while reducing environmental emissions.
- If you have a conventional heating system, set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and lower the setpoint when you're sleeping or away from home. For heat pump systems, however, the temperature does not need to be lowered when you are sleeping or away from home. Heat pumps are so efficient the rule for these systems is to "set it and forget it". Just be sure to set the temperature at a reasonable temperature.
- Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as recommended.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
- Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if unsure about how to perform this task, contact a professional.
- Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
- Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
- During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. See the efficiency standards for information on minimum ratings and look for the ENERGY STAR label when purchasing new products.
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