Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Warm Up to Winter with Sustainable Energy Savings

On the cusp of Utah furnace season, many residents wonder how to maintain indoor comfort without increasing their heating costs and environmental footprint. Fortunately, there are many simple and inexpensive ways to improve furnace efficiency before it’s time to rev up the heat. Consider the following energy tips:  

  1. Utilize your programmable thermostat. Most programmable thermostats are easy to operate—and are virtually maintenance free. This handy appliance can be easily adapted to your family’s energy schedule, so you’re never heating an empty space or waking up to an unwanted chill. Programmable thermostats generally pay for themselves during the first year of use, so consider installing one if you are still relying on a manual version. (Note: The Nest thermostat is a cool and cost-effective way to regulate your energy use. Tune into our next blog to learn more about Nest!)  
  2. Remember to change your filters! This inexpensive, yet often-neglected step is the most important thing you can do to maintain your HVAC system. When filters are dirty, your furnace has to work harder to maintain your comfort. In addition, dirt and debris may sneak past your filter, causing costly damage to your heating and vent system while impacting indoor air quality. During peak furnace season, filters should be changed every four to eight weeks. Use a furnace filter recommended by your HVAC manufacturer. If your family suffers from allergies or asthma, think about upgrading to a HEPA filter.
  3. Use direct sunlight to your advantage. The sun is the best source of “green power” during winter daylight hours. First, use white vinegar to clean your windows, since dirt can block the sun’s rays. Open blinds and curtains on south-facing windows, and install insulated coverings on other windows to lock in the effects of sunlight. Properly installed skylights can also contribute to heat and light savings during winter months.  
  4. Run your ceiling fans. They are not just for summer! Most new-model ceiling fans have a small switch on the unit. This switch changes your fan from “wind chill” mode to winter mode. In this mode, the fan pulls warmed air from the room’s center, and circulates it up to the ceiling and along the walls—without cooling you off. Ceiling fans are much cheaper to use than your furnace—and are a greener way to warm your home.   
  5. Keep warm air inside. If you live in an older home, warm air can leak out around door and window jambs. In fact, Energy Star estimates that most residents could save up to 20 percent on heating bills if homes were properly sealed. Identify air leaks with your hand or a stick of incense. Watch for smoke deflection around doors, windows and baseboards. Seal leaks with weather stripping or caulking. This is a very cheap and easy way to save money during winter and summer!

Finally, to ensure the efficiency of your Salt Lake City furnace, our team of technicians recommends semi-annual HVAC maintenance. Offering competitive pricing on one-time and annual maintenance agreements, Main Street Heating & Air Conditioning will inspect your furnace and ventilation system to ensure safe, cost-effective operation—year-round. Now is the ideal time to schedule your winter maintenance visit. Call 801-930-5151 to inquire about pricing, set an appointment time or speak with our Salt Lake HVAC team!