Good news from energy experts: Warmer temperatures and lower fuel prices should cut down heating costs this winter, but they still warn against cranking up the heat. In today’s Angie’s List report, how to stay warm and save even more money as the temperatures drop.
Photo courtesy: MGN
Dan Welklin is a comfort consultant. He pokes around attics and crawl spaces assessing home performance – the combination of HVAC efficiency and how well a house maintains its temperature.
“There’s no reason to upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace if there’s something wrong with your duct work in the attic,” Dan Welkin says.
Welklin says sealing air leaks is the easiest and least expensive way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. He suggests doing your own depressurization test to help find leaks.
“Turn on your clothes dryer, your bath exhaust vents and your kitchen exhaust vent, and then go around everywhere in the home and feel for cold air leaks. The best time to do this is on a very cold day,” says Welkin.
Once you seal any leaks, shift your focus to the heating system.
“The biggest user of energy in your home is your HVAC system, so proper maintenance is going to save you money. Change your furnace filter each month and be sure to get a furnace tune-up this fall,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks says.
Insulation is another key. Welklin says you need 10 to 12 inches in your attic. Any more than that may not be cost-effective.
If you use a space heater, be careful. Improper use makes them the second-leading cause of home fires, and running them constantly will hit you hard in the wallet.
“A 15-dollar space heater running 24-7 could add over a hundred dollars a month to your bill,” Welkin says.
More advice from Angie: Use your fireplace wisely. It feels great when you’re next to it, but it can let in a lot of cold air. Also, install a programmable thermostat, and lower your home’s temperature by at least three degrees from where you normally keep it to see noticeable savings.