The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects temperatures in Middle Tennessee and the rest of the southern United States to be 27% colder this winter as compared to last.
In part, this explains why the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting that average household expenditures for all major home heating fuels will rise this winter. “Natural gas expenditures [are] forecast to rise by 12%, home heating oil by 17%, electricity by 8%, and propane by 18%,” says the EIA’s recent Winter Fuels Outlook.
So it’s a good time to take stock of tips you can use to save money on your heating bill. Here’s where you can start.
Lower Your Thermostat
The first and perhaps most obvious tip is to lower your thermostat. According to energy.gov’s Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips, turning your thermostat down by 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day enables you to save 10 percent a year on your heating bill.
In fact, one of the benefits of a Wi-Fi thermostat is the ability to monitor and control the temperature in your home remotely.
Also consider turning the thermostat down while you are in bed at night. ENERGY STAR recommends sleeping at 62 degrees or below, a temperature you may not be able to tolerate initially, but should be able to adjust to over a period of time.
Keep Warm Air From Escaping Your House
A great way to keep your furnace from working overtime is to make sure that the warm air inside your house stays there. Plus, by sealing off areas where warm air could escape, you also help keep cold air out. All of this results in a lower heating bill for you.
Examples of this include covering windows and patio doors with heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets, and adding caulk or weather stripping around doors and windows. If you have a chimney, keep your fireplace damper closed (unless a fire is burning, of course). And if you never use your fireplace, consider plugging and sealing the chimney flue.
Additional measures include closing the doors to empty rooms and sealing off the vents in those rooms so the heat is directed to the parts of your home you are utilizing.
Also, make sure you keep your heat registers clear, and consider buying a portable heater if you want to supplement the heat in a single room—or one room at a time.
Finally, make it a point to keep your curtains or shades open during the day to let the sun’s rays in, then close them at night to help retain as much heat as possible.
Seal Leaks in Ductwork
Last but not least, look to improve duct performance. According to ENERGY STAR, in a typical house with a forced-air heating system “20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts.”
Repairing ductwork can be a challenging do-it-yourself project, as ductwork is often inaccessible, concealed in walls, attics, ceilings, crawlspaces and basements.
But ENERGY STAR has good advice for the ambitious DIYer, recommending that you “start by sealing air leaks using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulating all the ducts you can access….Also, make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.”
Naturally, many home owners prefer to leave inspecting and repairing ductwork to professionals, who can inspect your entire duct system and evaluate your system’s supply and return balance, among many other ENERGY STAR recommendations for duct improvement projects.
Have Questions? Need Help?
If you have any questions about inspecting or repairing ductwork—or want to know which Wi-Fi thermostat(s) will work best with your HVAC system—don’t hesitate to give Jewell Mechanical a call at (615) 469-5965.
Or contact us online to schedule an appointment for routine residential maintenance, the benefits of which are outlined here. We provide HVAC services for Nashville and the majority of Middle Tennessee.