If winter heating is your biggest utility expense, then use these quick and easy steps to lower your bills, save money and reduce the negative impact you have on your environment. While some improvements in the efficacy of your building envelope are cheap (like caulking cracks and holes), others may be more costly (like replacing your furnace with an Energy Star one). In instances where you are spending more, check whether the government incentives and tax cuts to promote energy efficiency cover some of your costs.
- Check if you are due for a furnace inspection and get a professional to ensure that your furnace is working optimally.
- Replace your furnace filters according to your manufacturer’s instructions (this may be as often as every month.) Check that all the vents are unblocked.
- Use a vacuum to remove dust from the coil, from the vents and from the ducting. This will improve furnace efficiency and the quality of your indoor air.
- If you have the old fashioned hot water radiators, bleed them to release air bubbles.
- Go outside and ensure that your flue is clear of vegetation and any other obstacles.
- Get a step-by-step DIY guide on fall maintenance for your furnace here.
- If you use a wood-burning stove, then clean the chimney once a year. This may also be a good time to check that your fire alarms are in good working order.
- Check that your ducts are properly sealed. Use metal-backed tape (not duct tape!) to seal leaks and reinforce joins.
Seal the deal
- One of the biggest obstacles to energy efficiency is air leakage, especially in older homes. The basement is the biggest culprit 9up to 40% of heating is lost through the basement). Consider redoing your basemenet with Amvic ICFs to imrpove your energy efficiency by 50%.
- Start with the easy fixes by caulking cracks and gaps in walls, around doors and windows and around plumbing fixtures. Exposed pipes should be covered with insulating material to reduce the chance of bursting.
- Start with an energy audit of your home. Knowing where the problems are and how to get the most bang for your energy efficiency buck is a great place to start. Save even more by doing an energy audit yourself. Here’s a little DIY from the Department of Energy.
- Clean your gutters and fix any loose or broken shingles or roof tiles. If gutters aren’t able to drain water, the water freezes into what is called an ice dam. As the water expands, it pushes up under the roofing.
- Trim branches that are old or dead and trim evergreens from windows to let the sunshine in.
- Use a programmable or set-back thermostat to lower the indoor temperature while you are at work or when you are sleeping so you can save 20-75% of your operating costs.
- Install an Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) system to utilize heat from the furnace exhaust to warm outdoor air before it comes into your home. An ERV can save 70% to 80% of the heat from the exhausted interior air while keeping indoor humidity at a comfortable 40% to 50%.