In the United States, the average home spends almost $1000 a year on heating, and this is considerably higher in places such as Colorado and Minnesota. Not only is that sort of money a real burden on the finances, it also creates a lot of carbon dioxide emissions – which are responsible for global warming. If you want to put money back into your pocket and be environmentally responsible as well, then here are a number of ways to get your home heating costs under control.
Perhaps the single biggest thing you can do to drive down your heating bills is to replace your old furnace. New, efficient home heating systems use up to 15% less energy than conventional ones, so this is a real opportunity to save – particularly if you live in a cold climate. While you obviously have to pay more for a high-efficiency furnace than for a regular one, you should recover your money within four years, and after that it is pure profit.
Of course, there’s no point in heating your home if all of that energy is flying out of the window. If you have old windows, the chances are that this is exactly what is happening. First of all, old window frames often leak around the edges, letting hot air out and cold air in. Second, heat flows directly through the window panes as well. If you can afford it, have your windows replaced with new sealed units that have triple glazing with inert gas between the sheets of glass – this will reduce the amount of energy that you are losing dramatically. If you can’t, then at least seal around the windows using a caulking gun to stop the drafts – this can still have significant benefits.
In fact, it’s not only your windows that leak. It’s a surprising fact, but when you add up all the various drafts and gaps in a typical house, these let as much air out as a 3 foot by 3 foot hole in the wall. For instance, you are probably losing large amounts of energy through your doors, so install draft excluders and weather stripping on these. To look for other leaks, simply wait for a windy day, and then hold up a candle in any areas that look like they might be leaking. If the flame flickers, you know that you have a problem that you need to fix.
It is also likely that you are losing significant energy in your basement. All that ductwork that runs from the furnace to your heating vents can be incredibly inefficient, particularly if your basement isn’t heated. In fact, some studies have shown that up to 60% of the heat they carry is lost before it makes it into the rest of your house. The first thing you need to do is to tape all the joints in the ductwork with a metal tape so that you prevent hot air from leaking out through these. Next, wrap all of your ducts with duct installation – this will ensure that they don’t radiate heat away before it gets to where it is needed.
Of course, it goes without saying that you need to prevent heat from leaking out of your roof as well. Go up into your attic, and check that there is sufficient insulation up there. This should be at least 12 inches deep – and if you really want to insulate your home well, then consider putting in an extra 3 to 6 inches of insulation on top of this. This isn’t a difficult project – you can buy attic insulation at your local home supply store, and then just roll it out on top of your existing insulation.