As residential HVAC experts, one of the questions we’re asked the most frequently is, “How can I lower my heating costs?” We often find that enormous energy bills come from energy waste that a homeowner doesn’t even realize is happening in their home. For this reason, we’ve compiled some common energy-wasting heating mistakes below, along with some suggestions for how to correct them.
If you’re looking to lower your heating costs this winter, make sure to avoid the following behaviors:
Mistake 1: Leaving curtains and blinds open at night.
During cold weather, allowing sunlight into your home through sun-facing windows is a smart way to get some free heat. However, once the sun goes down, you’ll rapidly lose heat through your windows unless you close the curtains or blinds. You’ll keep the most heat in your home by using window treatments that have insulating properties, such as Roman shades or thermal curtains.
Mistake 2: Shutting your heater off completely.
This might seem like a good idea when you’ll be away all day at work, running errands, or visiting relatives. However, on a really cold day, shutting the heater off completely will allow your home to get extremely chilly.
Consequently, when you are ready to turn the heater back on, your heating system will have to overcome a huge drop in temperature to make your home cozy again. Your system will need to use a lot of energy to accomplish this and run for a much longer, strenuous cycle than it otherwise would if you let it run every so often.
It’s more energy-efficient, cost-effective, and easier on your heating system to turn your thermostat down—rather than turning your system off. As long as you set it lower than 68 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re very likely to maintain a conservative heating bill.
Mistake 3: Closing air vents in unoccupied rooms.
Closing air vents to save money was a “hot tip” for many years. Unfortunately, it operates based on flawed logic. When you close an air vent, that blocked air will not get redirected to another room. Instead, you’re going to end up with an air pressure problem in your heating system.
The blocked air will create pressure that your heater's blower will have to work harder and harder to blow against. This ultimately translates into more energy wasted and more wear-and-tear on your heating system. Furthermore, that increasing pressure can force leaks to form in your air ducts. That will make the airflow into your home weaker, which means your heater will have to run longer to make your home comfortable.
If certain rooms in your home get much hotter or colder than others, consider installing a zoning system in your HVAC system. This will allow you to direct warm or cool air to the areas in your home that require it.
Mistake 4: Keeping the air filter in way too long.
When an air filter goes too long without a replacement, it becomes clogged with dust, hair, dander, and other indoor air pollutants. A clogged air filter essentially suffocates your heater, blocking airflow through the system. Not only will the heater work less efficiently, but overheating parts become a severe risk. If the problem goes ignored for long enough, you’ll have high energy bills as well as a broken heater on your hands.
Mistake 5: Turning up the thermostat really high.
Your heating system has a maximum speed at which it can operate. If it’s a single-stage system, that speed is the only speed at which it can run. Even if you set the thermostat to an extremely high temperature, your system can only work at its max speed—nothing more. It can’t work any harder or faster than that.
When most people set their thermostat to a high temperature to get their heater to “work faster,” they encounter this problem: they forget about their thermostat setting until half an hour later when their home is now sweltering and their heater has been running for much longer than necessary. Doing this frequently puts stress on the heating equipment and runs up your energy bill unnecessarily. It’s more cost-effective to set your thermostat to the temperature you ultimately want and just bundle up with some blankets until your home is cozy again.
Mistake 6: Never getting the heater serviced.
In our experience as HVAC technicians, the heaters that break down the soonest are almost always the ones that have never had a maintenance appointment. Because the equipment has not been professionally serviced, parts have had a chance to wiggle out of alignment, dust has coated the system’s interior, and the motor has lost lubrication. These problems make it harder for the heating system to perform, and as a result, the system needs to use more energy to do its job. Eventually, that strain on the system can lead to a breakdown, which is typically when we get a call.
At JC Refrigeration Heating and Air Conditioning, we are Santa Clarita’s trusted heating specialists. For reliable heating maintenance, repairs, and installations, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at (877) 959-4240.