ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- It may feel like every year there are stories dedicated to winter preparation and ways to cut heating bills. It bears repeating some of the most basic advice like turning the heat down at night, especially with anticipated heating costs to be between 30% to 59% higher this year, according to a government agency.
Keeping heating costs down goes hand in hand with routine maintenance. People unfamiliar with maintaining their furnace or other equipment should call a contractor for a pre-season tune-up, according to EnergyStar.gov.
They said routine maintenance should include:
- Setting thermostats to make sure the cooling and heating systems maintains a comfortable temperature when people are home but saves energy when no one is home.
- Make sure electrical connections are tight measuring voltage and current on motors. Loose or frail electrical connections can lead to unsafe operation of heating/cooling systems and decrease the life of major components.
- Lubricate all moving parts to reduce friction in motors. Non-lubricated parts cause friction and increases the amount of electricity used.
- Check and inspect the condensate drain in central air conditioner units, furnaces and/or heating pumps (when in cooling mode). Plugged drains can cause water damage in houses and affect indoor humidity.
- Check system controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
For heating systems only, EnergyStar said to check gas or oil connections, gas pressure, burner combustion, and heat exchanger. Problems with any of those could mean equipment is less safe and less efficient. Faulty connections can cause a fire and create health problems. Dirty burners or a broken heat exchanger leads to improper burner operation, they said.
Debt.org said turning the temperature down 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day can save people approximately 10% on heating costs. Similarly, turning the temperature up 7-10 degrees in the summer for eight hours a day can save money on cooling costs, they said.
Additionally, Debt.org said other ways to cut heating costs include:
- Open curtains or blinds during the day allows warmth from the sun in. Closing them at night helps keep heat in. Window film can also help keep heat in.
- If it isn’t already, lower the temperature on water heaters to 120 degrees and use extra insulation like jackets or blankets.
- Seal any openings and invest in better insulation.
- Get on a budget plan with utility providers to stabilize costs year round.
- Set ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise.
- Dress in layers indoors and keep comfortable blankets in the living room.
It’s important to change filters in forced hot air heating systems said Consumer Reports and Debt.org. Consumer Reports also said homeowners can benefit from using a programmable or smart thermostat. They said the best smart thermostats that cost under $200 are the Emerson Sensi UP500W, Google Nest Thermostat E, Honeywell Home T9 RCHT9510WF, Honeywell Home Round, Honeywell Home T5, and the Honeywell Home T5+.