Learn How to Lower Utility Bills
Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Monday, prognosticating another 6 weeks of winter. Whether or not you believe his prediction, it’s never too late to make some small, and not so small, changes to your home to significantly lower utility bills.
Here is the breakdown when it comes to your utility bill:
Source: Energy Star
Although, these numbers do vary by quite a bit, heating is almost definitely your biggest expense. Although it seems the warm weather will never arrive, these tips for saving on heating will help with your cooling costs as well.
1. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Are you heating and/or cooling your home when no one is around or people are asleep? If you are, you could be wasting a lot of money. If you are diligent enough, you may be able to raise the thermostat setting when you wake up, lower it when you go to work, raise it back up again when you come home, and turn it down again before going to bed, but what is the likelihood of that happening everyday?
In addition to saving you money, you and your family will experience added comfort from a programmable thermostat since it will automatically raise the temperature before you wake up and before you come home from work or school. This way, there is no delay period, and you can experience the comfort of your HVAC system when exactly when you need it.
Don’t turn your system off completely when you leave the home. We recommend setting the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower when away from your home. For every one degree you turn your temperature down, you will save about 1% on your heating bill.
There are even apps that you can download so you can monitor and adjust the temperature of your home from a remote location. If you are thinking of purchasing a “smart thermostat, here are some reviews of the top contenders, including Nest, Hive, Tado, and more.
2. Insulate Windows and Doors
Lock any windows and doors not being used, as the tightness gets rid of any drafts. Consider putting Window Shrink Film over any windows that you don’t plan on opening all winter. Make sure to attach it to the frame of the window and not the window itself and use a hair dryer to create a taut air seal. If you followed the directions carefully, you shouldn’t even be able to tell it is there from a distance.
Also, remember to replace any worn weatherstripping with a fresh set. The same goes for caulking your doors and windows. You want to remove the old before installing the new.
Check out this video for re-caulking your windows and doors:
3. Check Your Furnace Filter and Air Vents
Set a reminder on your phone or computer for the first of every month to check and/or replace your furnace air filters. Have a large backup supply of filters so you don’t have to run to the store every time. Most filters need to be replaced every 30-60 days.
Another thing you should check are your supply and return vents. Make sure these openings are completely unblocked. Check under rugs, behind furniture, and drapery to see if any vents are being blocked. Not only will this cause unwanted pressure in your duct system, causing air leaks, but it will also prevent warm air from coming into your rooms or cold air from being able to escape through the returns.
4. Take Advantage of the Sun
The sun’s energy is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Even on the coldest of days, the sun’s rays can supply your home with substantial amounts of heat.
When the sun is out, make sure you open the curtains or blinds. Conversely, if the sun is down or hidden, close your blinds for added insulation. Consider purchasing “thermal drapes/curtains” for extra insulation.
5. Get Your Ducts In a Row
You can tell if you have dirty air ducts that need cleaning by sticking a flash camera into one of your air registers and taking a couple snaps. If it look anything like this, you’ll want to schedule duct cleaning as soon as possible, especially if you have family members with respiratory issues:
Also, don’t fall for cheap air duct cleaning scams. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is:
In addition to checking your ducts for dirt, dust, and debris, you want to go around your home and seal all of your air ducts’ seams and connections with mastic sealant or HVAC Foil Tape (NOT duct tape, ironically).
This can potentially save you 20% on your heating and cooling costs, so yeah, you should do it.
6. Benefit From Rebates, Warranties, and Other Incentives
Your utility company might also offer free programmable thermostats and any subsidies for major repairs, like roof and boiler replacement.
Often, state, local, and federal programs are available to homeowners who make significant improvements to their home’s energy efficiency.
Although it won’t save you money or energy, it definitely saves lives to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed outside of every sleeping area in your home.
Over 60% of all home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors.
If you have any further questions on how to save energy and lower utility bills this winter, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers.
Visit us on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ or give us a call at (302) 368-3848 for more information on saving money and energy. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.