Looking to save money while enjoying a warmer home in Long Island this winter? Here are 10 of the most sensible and cost-effective ways to do it, ranging from free fixes to long-term efficiency investments:
Program your thermostat – You can save as much as 10 percent on your bills by setting your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. To do this easily, use a programmable thermostat. Going on vacation? Set your thermostat lower (we recommend 55 degrees, but do not shut your heat off completely to avoid frozen pipes.
Make sure your thermostat is properly calibrated – Improper calibration of your thermostat could be costing you. Have your thermostat checked and calibrated by a professional each year (this should be included in your annual heating maintenance – see #7).
Reverse your ceiling fans – Ceiling fans can be used during the winter to push rising warm air back into the room, helping you to keep the room warmer with a lower thermostat setting.
Let the sun in – During the winter, keep treatments on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Seal air leaks – You lose about an open window’s worth of air through cracks and openings around external windows and doors; use caulk, weather stripping, door sweeps, and plastic sheeting to keep those leaks to a minimum.
Stay on top of air filter changes – Using old filters puts stress on the compressor, leading to higher bills and eventually mechanical failures. Check filters at least once a month during winter, cleaning or replacing them as needed. While you’re at it, clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators, too, making sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
Get a professional tune-up – Professional maintenance will spot problems that could be robbing your heating system of efficiency – worn parts, rust and corrosion, burner problems, inadequate lubrication, and more. It will also help you find potential safety issues that could pose risk to your family. The bottom line: get professional heating service every year – it will usually pay for itself in efficiency improvements alone.
Upgrade your insulation – Insufficient insulation will make your heating system overwork to keep you warm.
Check and seal your ducts – Studies show an average of 10 to 15 percent of the hot air produced by a forced air system escapes through ductwork flaws before ever reaching your living space. Have your ducts inspected every five years, sealing them when needed.
Upgrade your furnace – Older heating systems can operate at efficiencies that drop into the 60s – 30 percent lower than most modern furnaces and boilers. That inefficiency can cost you thousands of dollars over the years – more than enough to justify the cost of a heating system upgrade. A modern furnace or boiler is more reliable, runs more quietly, and will keep you more comfortable for less money every month.