10 Ways to Reduce Heating Costs This Season

Along with chilly winter weather comes increased utility bills. While some of that increase is unavoidable, there are several things that can be done to minimize the overall impact and improve heating costs. Some projects will require the assistance of a contractor, but you can do many yourself for little or no cost.

  1. Have a heating system tuneup performed.  Regular maintenance is necessary to keep your heating system running at its full potential, plus it will help improve heating costs. A trusted contractor will clean the burners, heat exchanger, air intake and blower fan. The pilot light and burner flames should be adjusted for optimum efficiency and an inspection should be done on the vent and duct systems. Safety checks should be done on all systems, including checking the levels of carbon monoxide in the combustion gases. The air filter should be cleaned or replaced during the process, though every month or so you should check the condition of the air filter yourself.  
  2. Seal ducts. Improperly sealed and insulated air ducts can cause more than a 30 percent loss in heating efficiency. Check all the joints in the ducts for air loss and seal them as necessary, using either mastic or metal tape. Inspect flexible ducting for holes, pinching, kinking and sagging. Repair or replace damaged sections and secure the ducts properly so that they don't impede airflow. Insulate all ducts, especially ones that run through unheated areas such as a crawl space or attic. Clean air ducts and registers in each room to facilitate better airflow, improve heating costs and increase indoor air quality.  
  3. Check insulation levels. Your floors should have at least R-30 and the walls should be rated R-19 or above. The most important area is the attic, however, since heat rises. Make sure you have at least R-30 in the attic, or even better, R-40 to R-50. This can be done with a combination of insulations, including spray foam and fiberglass batts. Make sure there's also a good vapor barrier installed to stop any air that could move through weak spots in the insulation. Also add a reflective barrier to the underside of the roof deck to reflect any lost heat back into the attic. Consider having a professional energy audit done to improve heating costs. 
  4. Add weatherstripping and caulk. Any drafty areas around doors and windows should be sealed. Add door sweeps to the bottom of exterior doors and use foam insulation behind the face plates of outlets and light switches. Inspect the siding, roofing and areas around external pipe and wire runs for possible leaks. Repair any siding or roofing damage and seal leaks with caulk, which can significantly improve heating costs. 
  5. Upgrade your windows. Though it can be an expensive project, replacing old, drafty windows with modern insulated versions can help reduce utility bills by up to 70 percent, especially if the old windows are single-pane.  
  6. Install a programmable thermostat. Program the unit properly so it lowers the temperature by up at least 10 degrees while you're sleeping or when you're away from the house for at least eight hours. Used correctly, a programmable thermostat can dramatically improve heating costs.  
  7. Install insulated drapes. These drapes can help stop heat loss around windows. Open the south-facing drapes on sunny days to take advantage of free solar heating. While redecorating, consider moving any furniture that blocks radiators or heating registers to ensure optimum movement of heated air.  
  8. Use ceiling fans. The buoyancy of heated air forces it to rise. A ceiling fan, used in the clockwise direction at a low setting in the winter, helps to recirculate the air, improving comfort without raising the thermostat. 
  9. Turn down your thermostat. Wear some extra clothes and reduce the temperature. For each degree you lower the thermostat, you could improve heating costs by up to three percent.
  10. Consider using a humidifier. During the winter, especially with a forced air system, the heated air can become dry. Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier can make it feel warmer than it actually is, much like a hot day during the summer is worse with high humidity.

These projects are a good starting point to improve heating costs, as well as summer cooling costs. To increase your home's efficiency even more, consult our HVAC experts at Thermacon Service Company, Inc. We serve Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, southwest Louisiana and the surrounding areas.


Why Service Matters and Why You Need to Pay for It

Written by a Thermacon Customer

I often find myself asking this funny but true question to people: “What do you call a person that graduates last in their class at medical school?” The answer is that you call them Doctor. The point of that question is to illustrate the absolute fact that a title is nothing more than that… a title. Be it a Doctor, Mechanic, or in this case an A/C technician, it’s the person behind the title that makes the difference.

I recently decided to update my home A/C system and based solely on reputation I called Thermacon Service Co. for a quote. My call was answered and within minutes I had an appointment set up for later that afternoon. Bring in Lance the sales guy… As far as salesmen go he was right up there with the best of them, minimal BS factor and no “hard sale” tactics. All qualities that I expect –and suspect are across the board with this company. The process went without any problems and after a thorough review of my home’s needs, we sat down to go over which air conditioning system options I had available. I was given a choice between four adequate systems ranging in price from budget to Bill Gates.

Now came the part of the process where I told Lance that I needed to get some more quotes on the system. This is where Lance’s job gets difficult… He knows that he can match the equipment costs with his competitors. But he also knows that his labor costs are higher. I understand why he is worried about this because times are financially tough for everyone these days. But what he does not know is that I am willing to pay a premium for Thermacon to do the air conditioning system installation (Refer to my above comment). To summarize the bids: Thermacon - $8400 / Comp A - $8270 / Comp B $7570.

“Pay me now or pay me later, but you’re going to pay me”… I heard this comment many years ago from an A/C technician while I was on a construction site. It relates to my point in this way – When dealing with advanced technologies like those that are used in modern HVAC systems there are many factors beyond the equipment costs that must be considered. I could save money up front and risk getting a less than perfect installation; this could end up costing me money and inconvenience in the future. I chose to pay a little bit more money on the front end to have the peace of mind knowing that Thermacon’s reputation was behind the work. From being factory trained to being prompt and courteous, they are a group of technicians that are professional and highly motivated to fulfill the needs of their customers.

I can say some less than desirable things about Thermacon, too. An honest review would not be complete without some complaints … I think they need to update their website to reflect current products, I don’t like their radio jingle, and I think their email domain is too long (@themaconservice.com)… That’s not a long list of dislikes, but it’s honest.

My experience with Lance and Thermacon has lived up to every expectation that I had for them. They are a service oriented company that has cultivated a loyal and happy customer base for good reason- They provide excellent service and charge accordingly. Another saying that has stood the test of time is “You get what you pay for”. When a statement hangs around for generations it’s because it is true. As I said at the top – Service matters and when it comes to your home HVAC system… You need to pay for it!!!   Or pay later…

Frank Trevino

Orange County, Texas