Green Heating: Tips to Save Energy this Winter 2019-2020

Green Heating: Tips to Save Energy this Winter

Green Heating: Tips to Save Energy this Winter 2019-2020
October 2, 2019

Why Choose Green Heating?

Consider some sobering statistics:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), approximately 30% of all the energy used in a typical U.S. home is from heating.
  • Furnaces older than 1992 waste 30% or more of your energy dollars and produce half the heat that newer models do on the same amount of fuel.
  • Out-of-date furnaces can produce up to four tons of carbon dioxide each year.

How can you make your heating system more eco-friendly? Here are some tips for increasing the efficiency of your current furnace or upgrading to a newer model.

Increasing the Efficiency of Your Existing Furnace

Enjoy the sunshine. Draw back your curtains or open your shades on sunny days to heat your home naturally. Keep your windows squeaky clean to receive maximum sunlight during the day and be sure to close them at night.

Lower your thermostat. Wear your winter clothes inside the house and use space heaters in high-traffic areas, such as the living room and bedrooms. For every degree you drop your thermostat between 60° and 70°, you’ll save about 5% on your heating costs. Programmable thermostats are highly recommended, as they can more than double those savings.

Insulate your windows. Up to 30% of a home’s heat can escape through low-efficiency windows. Cover your windows and glass doors with a clear plastic film to save about 14% on your heating bill. You can also install insulating drapes or shades on drafty windows.

Seal up leaky windows and doors with caulk or weatherstripping. You may also want to consider installing fully insulated doors on garage entrances, cold storage rooms, and basements.

Run a humidifier. Good humidity levels in your home will maximize the heat from your furnace, help prevent wood furniture from cracking and floorboards from forming gaps, and benefit people with dry skin. You can use table humidifiers or simply turn off your bathroom fan while you shower and keep the door open to release the warm, humid air into the rest of your home. If you add a whole-house humidifier to your furnace, choose a steam humidifier and only run it when the furnace is on to mitigate the risk of mold growth.

Don’t heat uninsulated areas. This includes garages, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, attics, and outdoor storage sheds.

Add rugs and carpets to your floors. These floor coverings provide an additional layer of insulation (and some soundproofing as well.)

Don’t block supply and return air vents with furniture or appliances. Consider installing a heat recovery ventilator, which continuously expels stale indoor air and preheats incoming fresh air.

Use exhaust fans sparingly. Turn off bathroom fans and oven hoods when not in use to prevent unnecessary loss of heat.

Reverse your ceiling fan blade rotation. This will push rising warm air back down towards you.

Install a filter alarm on your furnace. It will alert you to dirty filters that need to be changed.

If you have an attached garage, keep the door tightly closed whenever possible. Doing so will trap heat against the garage-side wall of the house and create a buffer against the cold outside air.

Upgrading Your Furnace

If following the above suggestions still isn’t making enough of a dent in your monthly utility bills, then it’s time for an upgrade. High-efficiency furnaces bring big savings to homeowners who live in areas with harsh winters—like right here in Cleveland, Ohio. So what features should you look for when purchasing a new heating system?

Electronic Spark Ignition
Traditional furnaces have a standard pilot light, which burns gas even when the furnace is off. What an energy waster! Meanwhile, high-efficiency (condensing) furnaces have an electronic spark ignition that fires up the furnace on demand so that it only burns gas during use.

Two Heat Exchangers
Traditional furnaces only contain one heat exchanger. As combustion occurs within the heat exchanger, a portion of the heat escapes through the chimney in the form of water vapor. Because such a large percentage of heat is lost in this way, traditional furnaces require significantly more energy to heat up a home. Condensing furnaces, however, contain a second heat exchanger that extracts extra heat from the water vapor and condenses the cooled vapor into a liquid (condensate). You can easily drain the condensate with an inexpensive PVC pipe through a wall instead of routing a flue up through the roof.

Variable-Speed Motor
In a conventional heating system, the furnace blows hot air on high for a few minutes and then shuts off. This method of heating wastes energy and is often noisy. High-efficiency furnaces, on the other hand, combine a programmable thermostat with a variable-speed motor that blows hot air at lower speeds for longer periods. As a result, you enjoy more consistent, comfortable heat without the extra noise and unnecessary energy consumption.

High Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) Rating
The AFUE rating measures the percentage of a furnace’s annual fossil fuel that is converted into usable heat. For example, a furnace with an AFUE rating of 80% converts 80% of its fuel into heat. The other 20% of fuel is essentially wasted during the heating process. The DOE requires that all non-weatherized (indoor) furnaces labeled as “high efficiency” have an AFUE rating of 90% or higher, with the best models climbing up to 98.5%! Higher AFUE ratings mean greater savings on heating costs. Keep in mind, however, that high-efficiency furnaces are only worth the initial expense if you live in an area with harsh winters. Homeowners in milder climates will experience much less energy savings.

 

Our experienced technicians at Fred’s Home Services can help you decide whether boosting the efficiency of your existing furnace or completely replacing it is the greenest, most cost-effective choice for your home this winter. We also offer affordable maintenance packages to ensure that your HVAC systems continue running as efficiently as possible.