Now that we have some snow on the ground and the heating season is upon us I thought I would do a review for the blog on how we can all save a little cash by just changing a few things in our homes.
Heating and cooling requires more energy than any other utility in your home, totaling approximately half of overall utility costs in average households. Heating systems emit carbon dioxide into the environment and contribute to global warming. Furnaces and heating systems also generate sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, two ingredients found in acid rain. Over all it is in our best interest to protect our environment and save money by heating and cooling our homes as efficiently as possible. Here are just a few tips to save some cash.
1. The best energy saving action for a heating system is simply to set the thermostat at a slightly lower temperature. These days a lot of homes in Calgary have digital thermostats which are very easy to program heating schedules into. Just by lowering the heat from 21 to 19 at night can make a huge difference in your monthly heating bills. If your home doesn’t have a digital thermostat you can pick one up and any Home Depot or Rona in Calgary. For a basic entry level programmable thermostat the prices start around $50.00 and go up to approximately $200.00, and most are very easy to install yourself. Here are a couple links to digital programmable thermostats and Home Depot and Rona.
If you don’t feel you need a programmable thermostat even putting an extra blanket on your bed, keeping an afghan on the sofa and leaving a cozy sweater in the front hall closet for when you get home, you can comfortably reduce your winter heating bill. Also, resist the urge to turn the thermostat up higher than normal when you are in a hurry to warm up your home. Change your air filters regularly (once a month or as needed) and consider closing vents off in areas of your home that aren’t in use.
2. Many people don’t realize that having a roaring fire is one of the most inefficient ways to heat up your home. To avoid losing heat through the chimney, be sure that your fireplace has an effective heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room. Ensure the damper is closed when it’s not in use and check the seal on the flue. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the flue to avoid heat loss through the chimney in the winter months.
3. Hidden beneath your feet is your home’s duct system. A network of tubes / duct carrying warmed or cooled air from your furnace or central air conditioner to rooms in your home. If your ducts are leaking, air that you’re paying to heat or cool and it isn’t even making it to the rooms it’s intended for you are throwing away money. Therefore, it is important to inspect accessible ducts for leaks, especially at the joints. To fix the problem simply wrap duct tape around leaks to prevent air loss. Duct leaks lead to more unnecessary expense in the summer because cooled air from your air conditioner is heavier and more difficult to bring to its destination even with minimal leakage. Cold air will always find its way through the leaks in a home’s duct work.
4. If you are building a new home or renovating, you can cut your heat loss from windows in half by using double glazed low-e windows and hanging close fitting blinds for additional insulation. Keep your eyes open for holes or cracks around walls, windows, ceilings, attic and crawl spaces where air could be seeping out of your home. Try to turn off ventilating fans in the bathroom or kitchen as soon as they have completed the job at hand, otherwise, warmed or cooled air is being unnecessarily drawn outside.
5. The location of your thermostat can also impact your utility costs. The thermostat should be located in a central part of your home and isolated from environmental factors such as direct sunlight or warm or cold drafts. When the sun shines on the wall near the thermostat or directly on it, the air conditioner will begin working overtime to cool your home unnecessarily. Similarly, appliances, lamps and television sets all create heat that can turn your cooling system on at improper times. In winter, cool drafts can trick your heating system into working harder than it has to as well. Ideally, the thermostat is in a place where there is adequate air circulation so that your heating and cooling systems come on only when necessary.
6. External shading devices like shutters and strategically placed trees can help to keep your home cool in the summer. Outdoor air conditioning units work more efficiently when they are shaded so consider planting trees or shrubs to save money and beautify your yard at the same time. In winter, keep the south facing window blinds open to naturally allow the suns warmth to heat your home. Remember to close blinds at night to provide additional insulation and limit drafts from cold windows.
7. You can also save money and protect the environment by simply maintaining and upgrading your equipment, ensuring your home is properly insulated and responsibly setting your thermostat. Just by making a few simple changes, you can cut those heating bills down substantially, and as an added bonus you will have a greener home that is better for the environment.
Nevin Van Nest . Realtor . Royal LePage Foothills
Your Calgary Real Estate Expert