Change Your Filter Regularly
A routine HVAC filter change is a simple, do-it-yourself task that only takes a few minutes to complete, prolongs the lifespan of your heating and cooling equipment and makes your home more environmentally friendly.
A clogged air filter inhibits air flow, which forces your HVAC system to work harder and use more energy to achieve the desired temperature. As it labors to keep you comfortable, it will cycle on and off more frequently, thus driving up your home heating bills.
Changing your air filter at least every three months will also benefit you by providing cleaner, healthier indoor air for your entire household. If you have pets, or if anyone in your family has asthma or other respiratory issues, you’ll benefit from more frequent filter changes.
Turn Down the Thermostat
Most people know programmable thermostats can save them money on their home heating and cooling bills. If everyone is off at work or school for long periods, why waste money heating or cooling an empty house?
But even if you’ve installed a programmable thermostat, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically notice a difference in your utility expenses. Here are some general guidelines to help you set your thermostat to ideal temperatures in the winter and start realizing cost savings.
- If someone is home during the day, 70 degrees Fahrenheit is a good start, but an even better target is 68 degrees.
- If everyone is out during the day, or while you are asleep at night, 66 to 62 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal temperature range.
As a guideline, you can save about 1% on your utility bill for each degree you lower your thermostat during cold weather. You can ease into your new preference gradually by decreasing the temperature in your home by one degree each week. By keeping the change slow and incremental, you and your family probably won’t notice the difference, except when it’s time to pay your monthly bills.
Get an Energy Audit
If your home heating bills are higher than you’d like them to be, a professional energy audit is an excellent way to determine anywhere you’re losing energy in your house. Trained auditors will analyze the exterior and interior of your home and ask you questions about your household’s behaviors, thermostat settings and overall energy use. They use specialized equipment such as infrared cameras, door blower testers and surface thermometers to assess areas of significant energy loss.
After conducting a thorough inspection, your energy auditor will give you a customized report that includes detailed recommendations for the next steps you should take to improve your home’s energy efficiency while making you more comfortable. These suggestions might include things such as:
- Updating old appliances, like furnaces and water heaters.
- Replacing weatherstripping and caulking around windows and doors.
- Switching from outdated incandescent bulbs to LEDs or compact fluorescent lights.
- Adding or replacing insulation.
- Getting new windows and doors.
- Upgrading your ductwork.
In some cases, after you have had a complete energy audit conducted on your home, your utility provider may offer rebates, incentives or low-interest financing to make the recommended upgrades and improvements. The audit itself may also be free or available at a lower cost through your utility company.
Insulate and Add Extra Insulation
A lack of adequate insulation is a significant cause of energy loss in homes across the country. Spaces to consider adding insulation include crawlspaces, garages, basements and attics, which are often drafty. Insulation plays the vital role of reducing and slowing heat transfer.
As you will learn below, various kinds of insulation are available to improve your home’s energy efficiency, and they don’t all have the same applications. As you compare different products, be sure to check for the R-value, which measures resistance to heat flow. The higher this number, the better the insulation is at reducing energy loss.
Types of Home Insulation
Spray Foam Insulation
This variety of insulation, originally developed for use in the aircraft industry, has seen widespread adoption among residential home builders in the past few decades, due to continuing innovations and improvements to the material. Upon application, the foam expands rapidly to fill gaps and seal open spaces where air can escape, such as wall cavities. Spray foam insulation can have a higher R-value per inch than other forms of insulation, making it ideal for use in small areas. It is also affordable to install and has sound-dampening qualities. While spray foam does become rigid after it dries, it is not the same as rigid foam insulation.
Blown-in insulation is a solution for older homes that need improvements to their existing insulation. It offers a quick, easy solution to improve a home’s comfort and energy efficiency without having to tear out drywall. Blown-in insulation consists of tiny bits of material – added via a long, flexible hose – that fill spaces between wall studs and ceiling joists. The three most common types of blown-in insulation are loose-fill fiberglass, cellulose and rock wool. Of these three, cellulose is often the top choice of environmentally aware homeowners because it’s a recycled material made of shredded newspaper and cardboard.
Foam Board or Rigid Foam Panels
Rigid foam insulation comes in the form of boards or panels you can cut to fit any space you’d like. Rigid foam is the material of choice for walls where the insulation will sit flush against the masonry, and for use as an exterior sheathing material. It also provides an ideal thermal barrier in floors with radiant heating. Rigid foam panels come in a variety of thicknesses, from a quarter-inch to two inches. Rigid foam performs well in contact with moisture, and it won’t split, crack or change dimensions.
Reflective or Radiant Barrier
When installed in homes – primarily in attics – radiant barriers can reduce summer heat gain and reduce cooling costs. The barriers consist of a highly reflective material that reflects radiant heat instead of absorbing it. However, they don’t reduce heat conduction like thermal insulation materials. When the sun beats down on a roof, the sun’s radiant energy heats things up. The hot roofing material then radiates its gained heat energy onto the cooler attic surfaces, including the air ducts and the attic floor. A reflective barrier reduces the radiant heat transfer from the underside of the roof to the other surfaces in the attic.
Insulate Your Attic
Though improving your in-wall insulation can dramatically decrease your carbon footprint and your energy consumption, doing so may be a large, expensive and messy undertaking. When whole-home insulation is not a practical solution for your home and budget, upgrading your attic’s insulation can be an excellent compromise. Because heat rises, insulating your attic helps you retain more warmed air in the winter by helping you lose less heat through your ceiling and roof. While it’s common to see fiberglass batts installed in attics, consider using spray foam, cellulose or loose-fill insulation for higher R-values and more bang for your buck.
Consider Going Geothermal
Most homeowners are glad to find ways to keep more of our hard-earned money in our bank accounts, while protecting our shared environment. Geothermal heating and cooling is a low-maintenance way to achieve both these goals simultaneously. One self-contained unit can heat and cool your home throughout the seasons, and can slash your utility bills as it does so.
In many cases, installing a geothermal heat pump system is the most cost-effective and energy-efficient home heating and cooling method available. Geothermal heat pumps are an especially smart choice if you’re building a new, custom home or planning major renovations to your existing property.
What Is Geothermal Heating, and How Does It Work?
Geothermal heating and cooling relies on the Earth’s energy to keep indoor environments at a comfortable year-round temperature. Even during the most sweltering heat wave or chilliest cold snap, the temperature a few feet underground consistently stays between 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, geothermal energy provides an unlimited, clean and reliable fuel supply for heating and air conditioning.
In the winter, your geothermal heat pump will draw the planet’s heat from an underground reservoir, concentrate it and circulate it to your home. Meanwhile, when the mercury rises in the summer, a geothermal system collects unwanted warm air and moves it into the ground.
Geothermal heating and cooling is quiet and efficient, and doesn’t rely on fossil fuels for energy. Over time, renewable energy sources can also pay for themselves in terms of the accumulated cost savings. Consider these benefits of geothermal HVAC.
- According to the U.S. Department of Energy, geothermal HVAC systems can be 300 to 600% more efficient than traditional HVAC systems in the winter.
- The Department of Energy also estimates that geothermal HVAC systems are typically 25 to 50% more efficient than traditional home heating and cooling solutions.
- Geothermal heat pumps multiply the energy they use, which makes them exponentially more efficient. In comparison, fossil fuel furnaces may not even return 100% of the energy units they use to operate.
As a Trane Comfort Specialist and member of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Pileiro Heating and Cooling makes our customers’ comfort and satisfaction our top priorities. We provide homeowners in Cape May and Atlantic counties with efficient, high-quality HVAC maintenance in every scenario.
When you call for a free estimate, don’t forget to ask about our financing options and flexible payment plans to make repairs, updates or new installations more affordable. Please reach out to our friendly, experienced team anytime, even in emergencies. We are here to help you 24/7.