10 Home Heating Mistakes That Spike Your Bills – Jennifer Noonan
There are a lot of steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency, and there is a lot you can do to damage it too. Make the most of your energy spending this winter by avoiding these 10 common home heating mistakes.
1. Heating an Empty House
If you’re out of the house at work most of the day, or if you’re away for the weekend, don’t heat the house the way you would if you were lounging around there. Spring for a programmable thermostat, which will save you money on energy bills. Set it to turn down the heat while you’re away and warm up the house right before you return.
2. Not Locking Your Windows
Of course you keep your windows closed in the winter. But do you remember to lock them? If your windows are not sealed tightly, cold air can infiltrate your home and the warm air your furnace is producing could leak out. Be sure to lock all your windows during the winter months.
3. Cranking up the Thermostat
Don’t make the mistake of trying to heat your home faster by cranking up the thermostat further than it needs to go. Turning your thermostat too high has no effect on how fast your home will heat up. Your furnace will just end up running longer—which will translate into a higher utility bill.
4. Not Changing the Air Filter
When the air filter is dirty, your furnace has to work harder and will use more energy doing so. Make sure you change out the air filter on a regular schedule. Your system will work more efficiently—and economically.
5. Ignoring Leaks and Drafts
Don’t underestimate how much heat your home could be losing as a result of leaks and drafts. Check all the doors, windows, and exterior walls for drafts. Seal and caulk any areas where cold air is coming in and warm air could leak out. Pay special attention to the basement and attic. They are generally the worst offenders.
6. Closing Vents in Unused Rooms
You might think it would make sense to close the vents in unoccupied rooms to save money. After all, why heat a room that’s empty? Well, the fact is that the ductwork for your heating system is sized to provide even heating throughout the house, and the system won’t work efficiently if you disrupt that balance by closing vents.
7. Neglecting Regular Furnace Maintenance
Just like your car, your furnace needs regular maintenance to keep it in good working order. Don’t ignore this. A well-maintained system will run more efficiently, keeping your energy bills down. Also, regular checkups will ensure that a small issue doesn’t balloon into a costly maintenance problem.
8. Turning Your Thermostat Down Too Low
While you don’t want to heat your house when you’re not home, don’t make the mistake of turning the thermostat down too low while you’re away. Doing so will just force your furnace to work harder when it’s time to bring the temperature up again, and you’ll end up spending more money in the long run.
9. Using Your Fireplace as a Heat Source
It might seem like a good idea to turn your thermostat down and use the fireplace for heat in a small space, but you’d actually be doing more harm than good. Most of that heated air will go straight through the chimney and out of your house. And that very same chimney will also let in the chilly air from outside, making your house colder and forcing your furnace to work harder.
10. Leaving Exhaust Fans On
As soon as you’ve finished using an exhaust fan in the bathroom or the kitchen, turn it off. Exhaust fans are necessary to purge moist or smelly air from your home, but you definitely don’t want to be pumping warm air out of your house longer than is required.