The colder the winter, the more it costs to keep your home warm. But as you might have guessed already, the less average runtime your furnace experiences, the less energy you’ll consume, which translates to more savings.
Longer runtime cycles kicking in less often also means smoother maintenance. Key to going longer periods without runtime is better trapping heat you’ve already paid for,leading to better savings on your bill.
Sometimes it’ll take a little investment for professional work, but there are a few simple tricks that can reduce heat loss. To help Calgarians reduce their bills next winter, we’ve come up with 10 things you can do to save on heating, with minimal impact on your time.
Invest in a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats have become a game-changer in home heating and cooling, with the newfound ability to control your home’s temperature from your smartphone or other devices. You can set them to lower temperatures while you’re away.
That means your furnace can take a break while you’re out for hours on end, or even days, remotely kicking the heat on in time for your return home.
Program a Lower Temperature While You Sleep
Set your thermostat a few degrees lower during the hours you typically sleep — so your furnace can take a break. It’s similar to keeping the temperature low while you’re away from home. The lower temperature translates to less furnace runtime.
If you’re covered head to toe in blankets, you won’t notice if your place is a few degrees cooler. That means you can enjoy savings on future bills!
Control Indoor Humidity
Humidity tends to throw a wrench into your HVAC system. Humid air is harder to warm up because it has higher water vapour content. Water is notoriously harder to warm up or cool down because of the interesting way water molecules react to each other.
Invest in a Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers allow you to shoot for an optimal level of 30-33% indoor humidity. They counteract higher outdoor humidity seeping in — so your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard heating the air in your home.
Crack the Windows During Chinooks
If you have a home hygrometer (an instrument measuring humidity), or if you grab a smart thermostat with a read on humidity, you can monitor your home and try to keep cold, wet air to a minimum.
In Calgary, we enjoy dry chinook winds and positive temperatures even in mid-winter — so opening the window to let damp air out and dry air in should make it easier on your furnace. But make sure to close the windows before the temperature drops again!
Invest in a Heat Recovery Ventilator
A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) is a better alternative to opening windows. The most common types of HRVs combine indoor and outdoor airflow with heat-conducting metal plates to exchange both heat and humidity. But each type allows your home to stay dryer during cold, humid weather without losing heat. HRV installation is an upfront cost, but the savings on your heating bill means you can recover some of it over time.
Open & Close Your Blinds
Your blinds can lend a powerful assist to your furnace if you know when to open and close them. Opening and closing blinds at the right time creates a greenhouse effect in your home.
During the day, try leaving them open on eastern, southern, and western exposure. Sunlight pouring into a room through a window harnesses infrared radiation (heat) from the sun — warming the room and saving your furnace on runtime.
At night, keep all blinds closed. That way, the blinds act as a layer of insulation on each window, better trapping heat, which in turn keeps your furnace’s runtime down. Attention paid to your blinds coupled with a lower set temperature for your sleeping hours means energy consumption can be a lot lower at night.
Help Convection with Your Ceiling Fan
Of the three types of heat transfer, conduction, convection, and radiation; convection is the one that depends on how well air moves. If warm is in the room, but it’s trapped on one side, you might feel cold despite a warm temperature setting.
In that case, you might be tempted to set the thermostat higher, at the cost of potential savings. But your ceiling fan can balance out the temperature of a room by better distributing warm air coming from the supply registers. With a better distribution of heat, you won’t feel as cold.
You can set your ceiling fan to blow down, so that warm air gathering at the ceiling warms you at a seated or standing level.
When it comes time to winterize your home, there are a few ways you can improve the way your walls and windows trap heat.
If you want to get really thorough, you could look into insulation as well. It’s come a long way in recent decades, so if you’re in an older home, you can consider installing newer material. R-Value is a rating for insulation, which measures how well a material keeps heat transfer down.
With an uninsulated attic, you might want an R-Value of R49 to R60. Still, if your attic has 3-4 inches of insulation, R38 to R49 is all you need for Calgary’s climate. A home improvement store or an insulation company could tell you about your insulation and whether the new material is that much better.
Redo Your Caulking
Caulking takes care of air leaks found in your window sills. This sticky material dries out into a smooth seal, and it insulates the point where a windowpane meets the window sill. You can find a caulking applicator at a home improvement store, and the application is easy.
Consider High-Efficiency Furnaces
If your furnace is 10-25 years old, it might be due for replacement. Well-maintained furnaces last much closer to 25 years than poorly maintained ones. If you need a furnace installed, consider a newer model with higher energy standards.
High-efficiency furnaces burn much more efficiently than older models. Feel free to ask us about high-efficiency, Energy Star® equipment for better carbon emissions ratings. Having better carbon emissions on your furnace means lower heating bills, and possibly government rebates, depending on the chosen model.
Invest in Furnace Maintenance
As mentioned, a maintained furnace needs fewer repairs and grants a longer useful life. We recommend annual furnace maintenance, not only for the health of your furnace, but so you can enjoy better efficiency, and in turn, lower heating bills. A well-maintained unit runs smoothly!
Saving Energy Means Saving Money
Whether you’re just using simple tricks like opening blinds at the right moment or investing in an HRV and high-efficiency furnace model — all these heat saving ideas work well together. Each might only save pennies, but those pennies add up to some significant savings when diligently applied over time.
If you need any help winterizing your home with furnace upgrades, give us a call! We’re happy to set you up with an HVAC system that lasts!