Winter Heating Tips

 Energy Savers booklet cover

Use Furnaces and Heaters Wisely

  • Set your thermostat as low as it is comfortable. Each degree you lower your thermostat can cut your heating costs between one and three percent. A common strategy is to lower thermostat settings to 63 degrees. The        lower you set it, the more you’ll save.
  • Maintain 35% relative humidity during heating season.
  • Beware of air duct cleaning services. Air ducts shall rarely need to be cleaned if designed properly. Air ducts shall be self-cleaning.
  • Beware of flex duct in your home. Panning of joist cavities. These may contribute to unhealthy air and poor air circulation.
  • High Efficiency condensing furnaces shall be thoroughly cleaned, inspected and flushed annually.
  • Operate furnace blower at thermostat in “auto” or “recirc” position (35%) can save energy.
  • If furnace blower is an ECM or Variable Speed Blower run continuously. Annual cost based on 100w light bulb usage or less than $75 annually.
  • Maintain or replace air filters (quarterly), humidifier water pads, furnace cleaning annually. Cleaning and inspection shall include cooling coil, blower wheel, burners, piping, safety control limits. Many contractors only provide very basic services. Take the time to observe their checks.
  • Turn your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees during your sleeping hours or while you’re away. Assuming your home can retain its heat energy. Programmable thermostats offer up to 4 programs per day.
  • Use a programmable thermostat with your furnace to adjust the setting while you sleep or no one is home.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month, or as needed. MERV required.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season. If in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.

Weatherize - Energy Saving Tips

  • Caulking and weatherstripping keeps warm air in during the winter.
  • Utilize blower door or infrared camera tests for additional heating savings.
  • Apply adequate combustion air into home. Code requirement in Minnesota.
  • Add R-8 insulation around heat ducts when they are located in unconditioned spaces such as attics, crawl spaces, and garages. All transverse air duct seams shall be sealed  with UL181 or approved mastic sealant. Balancing of air flow required.
  • If you see holes or separated joints in your ducts, hire a professional to replace or repair.
  • Check to see that your fireplace damper is tightly closed, when it is not in use.
  • During the heating season, keep draperies and shades on south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.

For Long Term Savings

  • If your furnace is over 10 years old, the new 2013 Federal Furnace Law requires that in Minnesota, replacement of aging furnaces must be energy efficient models and meet 90+ efficiency. The era of getting the cheapest, lowest efficiency models are over in Minnesota. If installed properly and according to manufacturer specs, these 90+ efficiency furnaces can help you save on heating bills. Although, if your home has air leaks and inadequate insulation value, your new furnace will be compromised and its efficiency rating may be less in value. A competent HVAC contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. Hiring an energy auditor is your best value. They undergo rigorous exams, education and testing qualified to examine your structure.
  • Although your best value, is an experienced energy auditor as an HVAC contractor that fully understands building performance. Rather than just selling a cardboard “box” (furnace). Many HVAC contractors are offered incentives to do so. Same day installations may hinder your overall energy value in home comfort. Remember, not all contractors provide the same experience, value or overall performance for your home. Always look for the ENERGY STAR® label. When hiring a contractor do not always assume their expertise from coupons, name or ads. Always ask questions.
  • Adding insulation and sealing air leaks help your energy performance in the wintertime by keeping the warm air inside. Infrared or blower door testing can determine the performance value of your home.

Everyday Tips to To Save Energy

These no-cost or low-cost tips are easy ways to save energy and money all year round.

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights.
  • Air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
  • Use a microwave oven instead of a conventional electric range or oven.
  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and VCRs, into power strips and turn power strips off when equipment is not in use.
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater; 115° is comfortable for most uses.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

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