Summertime is all about carefree living, with spontaneous backyard gatherings, planned getaways, and everyone heading indoors for air conditioned comfort when the heat gets to be too much. As the seasons turn, however, it's time to get serious again, looking for ways to reduce energy consumption over the winter and shrink your carbon footprint. Unfortunately, there's a lot of misinformation and bad advice out there that may actually wind up costing you more in the long run. Take a look at the following list of fall and winter energy-saving myths for help sorting out fact from fiction.
Where Does Your Money Go?
Before you start saving, you need to know where your energy dollars are being spent and wasted. A professional energy audit will help identify which areas of your home will benefit most from changes or improvements and yield the greatest savings. A trained technician will perform a thorough examination and evaluation of your home, including your:
- HVAC system
- Doors and windows
- Water fixtures
Once you receive your written report, you can decide which changes you can implement yourself and which ones to leave to the professionals.
Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Myths
Myth: Closing the supply vents in unoccupied rooms saves energy.
Fact: While closing off one or two rooms at the most is likely OK, you want to avoid closing off any more that this. Your forced-air HVAC system is designed to provide a certain amount of air capacity, linked to your home's size and layout. When you close off rooms, you throw the system out of balance, and can:
- Create back pressure on the fan, making it work harder, use excess energy, and wear out prematurely.
- Redirect the conditioned air to other rooms, or through leaks in ductwork.
Myth: Cranking up the thermostat heats your home faster.
Fact: Your heating system works at a set speed to warm your home; turning up the thermostat past your desired set point can result in wasted energy, and an unbearably hot home.
Myth: Turning your electronics and appliances off saves energy.
Fact: As far as fall and winter energy-saving myths go, this one is a bit tricky. While using the off switch does result in savings, many items in your home run on phantom power even when off, powering features such as a clock or digital display. For true savings, unplug them or turn them off at the power bar.
Myth: Use duct tape to seal cracks or gaps in your ductwork.
Fact: Despite its name, standard duct tape is unsuitable for sealing ducts, as it will deteriorate in relatively short time; a better choice is metal or foil backed tape.
Adjust your thermostat. During the heisting season, set the thermostat to 68 degrees for times you are home and awake, and several degrees lower when your home is empty or you're asleep.
- For each degree you lower your thermostat, you can save about 2 percent on your energy bill.
- Maximize savings by lowering the temperature between 10 and 15 percent, for eight hours or more at a time. A programmable thermostat can be set to return your home to a comfortable temperature shortly before you expect to arrive home.
Seal air leaks. Keep conditioned air indoors by sealing leaks around doors and windows with caulking or weatherstripping. Locate leaks on a windy day, using a piece of tissue paper to find air movement. If you opt for a professional energy audit, the technician may perform a blower-door test: a powerful fan is mounted to the frame of an exterior door, and when turned on, pulls air from the interior of your home, lowering the air pressure. Outdoor air is then drawn back inside through existing leaks, where leakage can be identified and measured by thermographic scanning equipment and pressure gauges.
Call for annual maintenance. Preventive maintenance prepares your HVAC equipment for the task ahead, and will ensure it runs at peak efficiency. A clean, well-maintained heating system results in fewer repairs, lower energy bills and improved air quality, in addition to keeping your family safe and comfortable.
Turn down the heat. Lower the temperature on your hot water tank to 120 degrees, to save on energy consumption and eliminate the risk of scalding.
Increase insulation levels. Head up to the attic to assess your insulation and add more if needed. Aim for a minimum R value of R-30 (higher is even better) and don't forget to insulate and seal the attic door or hatch.
Don't let fall and winter energy-saving myths deter you from lowering your energy bills throughout heating season. Call the experts at Thermacon Service Company for all your heating and cooling needs, proudly serving homeowners in Beaumont, Orange, Port Arthur, Vidor and the surrounding area.
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