Reduce your Heating Costs and Stay Warm this Winter
October 11, 2017
People in Southern Ontario will know that not only have electricity prices skyrocketed but natural gas costs have gone up significantly – making it a higher priority for most people to find ways to reduce heating costs and still stay warm this winter. None of these thoughts are revolutionary but all together could make a significant impact in your natural gas bill (heating costs). If you think about it in general terms, its all about making your furnace works as little as possible and making sure all of the fuel you’re burning makes its way to the areas you’re living in.
The first step is fairly predictable – maintenance. Basically, this means 2 basic things you’ll need to do to keep your house warm – at a minimum of cost. The easiest of these is making sure your furnace filter is not clogged. You would be shocked at the number of houses we see that change their furnace filters only once per year. The funny thing is that some people think they make up for not changing it regularly by installing a high efficiency one. This is the worst of all scenarios. The high efficiency filter catches more dust, dirt, etc than regular ones (which is good) but because it catches more, it means it clogs up more! For the first couple months, you’re doing yourselves a favour – the air is cleaner, but after the filter loads up, the furnace is working way harder than it needs to – trying to suck air through a dirty filter to heat it up and recirculate it into the rest of the house.
How often should you change your filter? That depends on a number of factors – the amount your furnace runs (hours), the surface area of your filter, and the density of the filter media. 5” filters (large surface area) can last 6 to 8 months, while 1″ filters should be changed 3 to 4 times per year (depending how often you run the fan without trying to heat or cool the house. The best tip I can give you to stay warm in the winter is to change your filter in the middle of December. That way – when your furnace is needed the most, it runs efficiently – which will reduce heating costs as well as your electricity bill.
The second tip on staying warm and reducing your heating costs is to have a professional perform preventive maintenance. The more comprehensive the tune-up the lower the heating costs. We estimate that a proper preseason tune-up saves $100 annually in gas and electricity savings. Make sure all of the essential controls are checked and adjusting the nozzle of the burner is key to keeping your heating bill down.
Another big help to lowering costs is to shut the floor registers in the rooms that you don’t use – and choke those that are closest to the furnace. Air moves the path of least resistance so if your furnace is running it will want to dump as much air as possible in the rooms closest to the furnace. If you want your entire house to be warm, try to limit how much warm air goes into those rooms, and maximize the amount that goes into those far away. Look for the dials on the floor registers – they’re probably set wide open. Choke them off by closing the louvres. You’ll be surprised how much warm air gets through – and how much this tip to stay warm can help lower your heating costs.
Another easy (and helpful) tip is to let mother nature help. We all know the pleasure of sitting by a window on a sunny winter day. Use that to your advantage. Southern and western facing windows get sun for long periods each day. Make sure you don’t have the curtains or blinds closed. Winter sun can save the furnace a lot of wear and tear – not to mention keep your house warm and reduce your heating costs.
The final tip to stay warm is a bit of a controversial one. Many people turn down the thermostat at night. While this certainly saves the furnace from working as hard at night and is likely more comfortable to sleep in, its effect on reducing your heating bill is debatable. Yes, you lower heating costs during the night, but during the day – when you want to keep the house warm, the furnace has to work harder to get the entire house back up to temperature. Why? Its because all of the objects in our houses hold heat. So while the furnace isn’t running at night, they all act like mini radiators – heating the direct area around them. Think of a fireplace. When you’re having a fire, the slate floor in front of the fireplace gets nice and warm (just ask your dog). Unfortunately, after the fire has been out for a while, that slate is colder than the rest of the room in the morning. It generally takes the sun and the furnace a couple of hours to get it back to being warm(er) again. Again – how often does your dog lie on the slate when there isn’t a fire? Shutting the furnace down overnight does the same thing. It saves money when you’re not running it, but you may use just as much getting things back up to temperature.
Try these tips to stay warm and reduce your heating costs – and treat yourself with the money you save!
Posted in: Heating