If the thought of your impending heating bills is enough to give you a chill, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Call it The Hignell Companies Challenge because we're a heating system service determined to help you get your heating bills under control – if not reduce them – once and for all.
Plug air leaks
First, realize that no matter how well your home is built or insulated, it's not impervious to outdoor temperatures and weather conditions. Why else would we need a furnace in the winter or an air conditioner in the summer? If our homes were perfectly sealed, we could largely live without either one. Sealing your home is a great place to begin the challenge so that cold air doesn't seep inside. Expect to find leaks and cracks, especially around doors and windows.
Perhaps the most efficient way to test your home's “airtightness” is to wait for a windy day and then go around the interior of your home in pursuit of suspected air leaks. (And don't forget to check around pipes that vent to the outdoors, as well as near electrical switches, outlets and register covers).
Hold a long-stemmed lighter or a light feather duster against a suspected problem spot and, if the flame or feather moves noticeably, you've got a leak that you should plug with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping. Shrink film around doors and windows can create a virtual blockade around these notorious energy wasters.
Check insulation and ducts
It might take you a while to chase down all the air leaks in your home, but rest assured: this step alone will be well worth your time. Be sure to back up your efforts by checking the insulation level in your attic; it might need reinforcement. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a helpful guide geared to homeowners.
Lower your thermostat
If you're working up a bit of a sweat, try to take the larger point about saving on your heating bill this winter: For every degree you lower your thermostat, you can save between 2 and 4 percent on your heating bills – and that comes straight from the department of energy. If you don't already have a programmable thermostat, consider asking your local heating sytem service about getting one. At the very least, think of those times that your home is empty and lower the thermostat accordingly – as well as overnight, when warm blankets can help compensate for a lower indoor temperature.
Take other steps
These three steps should make a marked difference in the comfort level of your home this winter – and in your heating bill. But just wait. We're not calling it The Hignell Companies Challenge for nothing. You can reap even more results by:
- Scheduling a furnace “tune-up” with a heating system service to ensure it continues to run cleanly and efficiently, which will automatically save you money on your heating bill.
- Getting in the habit of checking your furnace filter every month and replacing it promptly when it's dirty.
- Setting your water heater at 120 degrees and insulating the entire length of pipe with an “insulation glove.” Pipe insulation is sold at home improvement stores.
- Setting your ceiling fans to run in a clockwise direction to circulate the warmer air that naturally rises to the ceiling. (Ceiling fans run in a counterclockwise direction in the summer).
- Opening your window treatments during the day to let the natural heat of the sun warm your home.
If you need a heating system service keep The Hignell Companies apprised of your progress – and let us know how our tactics help you rise to the challenge of saving money on your heating bill this winter.