November 2, 2022
12 Tips for Staying Warm This Winter Without Breaking the Bank
The winters in St. Louis can be brutally cold, and this can make keeping your home warm an expensive proposition. The good news is that there are a variety of fairly simple ways that you can reduce your heating costs without sacrificing your comfort.
1. Schedule a Heating Tune-Up
This is by far one of the best and most important things you can do. Your furnace and heating system really need to be professionally maintained every year to continue functioning properly and heating your home efficiently. During a heating tune-up, our HVAC technicians will inspect your furnace and the rest of your HVAC system to ensure it is free from any issues that could limit its effectiveness. They will also fully clean your furnace, blower fan and all other components to further improve the efficiency of your furnace. In this way, you can be assured that your heating system is working properly and not contributing to energy waste and higher utility bills.
2. Insulate Your Attic and Crawl Space
Many older homes have little to no insulation in the attic and crawl space or basement. Without sufficient insulation in the basement or crawlspace, all of the cold outdoor air will seep inside and the home will stay much cooler. If your attic isn’t insulated, much of the heat from your furnace will rise and escape out through the attic. Both of these issues will force your heating system to run much more often and for longer times and thus increase your monthly costs.
In fact, the EPA notes that uninsulated attics and basements are the single biggest source of heat and energy loss. By making sure these areas are well-sealed and insulated, you may be able to reduce your heating costs by as much as 30%.
3. Change Your Furnace Filter Regularly
This might seem like a fairly minor thing, but it most definitely isn’t. If you don’t make sure to replace your HVAC air filter at least every one to three months, it will quickly get clogged and create numerous potentially serious issues for your furnace and heating system. A clogged air filter drastically restricts the amount of air being drawn into the furnace, which means your furnace will produce less heat and need to run longer to warm your home. A clogged air filter also has the potential to cause major damage to your furnace and blower fan.
4. Keep the Heat Turned Down When You’re Away
This one is pretty simple as there is no reason to heat an empty house. Turning your thermostat down 5 to 10 degrees or so before leaving for work can make a big difference in your heating costs. According to the EPA, lowering your thermostat for eight hours a day can reduce your annual energy costs by around 10%.
5. Never Turn Your Thermostat Down Too Low
While it is a good idea to lower your thermostat a few degrees during the night and whenever you’re away, you also don’t want to set it too low. If you let the temperature in your home drop much below 60 degrees, it can take a long time for your furnace to reheat the home when you turn the thermostat back up. This usually isn’t a huge issue on milder days, but on extremely cold days, it can force your furnace to run for a few hours to catch back up. This will end up using more energy in the long run than it would if you had left your thermostat set a bit higher.
6. Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat
We highly recommend that you consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. Not only are they super convenient, but they will also help to lower your heating costs. You can program everything directly from your smartphone and turn your furnace on and off remotely. Most smart thermostats can also learn about your behavior and routines and automatically adjust your heating system so that your system functions at its peak energy efficiency and effectiveness.
7. Close the Doors to Any Unused Rooms
Many people close the air vents in their unused rooms in an effort to help direct the heat where it is needed most. However, this is a bad idea as it can affect air circulation in your ducts and actually force your heating system to work harder. Instead, it is best to simply keep the doors shut to your bedrooms during the day or any other rooms that aren’t in use as this will help to trap the heat, reduce energy waste and lessen the strain on your heating system.
8. Always Keep Your Window Coverings Open During the Day
The sun still puts off a lot of heat even during the middle of winter, and you can use this to your advantage to help heat your home during the day. Keeping your curtains, blinds and other window coverings open during the day will contribute to heat gain and can raise the temperature by at least a few degrees. This is especially true if you have lots of south- and west-facing windows as they will get the most sunlight at the warmest times of the day.
9. Make Sure Windows and Doors Are Fully Sealed
Air gaps around windows and doors are another huge source of heat loss and will also allow cold drafts to seep inside. To prevent this, look and feel around all of your windows and doors for drafts, gaps and cracks. If you do notice any drafts or you notice that some of the caulking is missing, you should cut away the old caulk and reseal around the inside and outside of the opening. You should also check that the weather stripping is still intact and in good shape.
10. Use Plastic to Seal Any Single-Pane Windows
If you have an older home that still has single-pane windows, you should take additional steps to insulate them. Single-pane windows have very little insulating quality and will let a huge amount of cold air inside. To prevent this, you can use a plastic window sealing kit to cover the inside of the window and add an extra layer of insulation.
11. Use Ceiling Fans to Improve Air Circulation
Hot air naturally rises, and this means that much of the heat from your furnace always settles near the ceiling. If your home has ceiling fans, running them clockwise will force much of that hot air downwards. This will improve air circulation to keep your home warmer and reduce how frequently the furnace needs to run.
12. Leave Your Oven Door Open After Use
Winter is a time when many people do lots of baking, and you can use this to your advantage to help keep your home warmer. Leaving the door open after shutting the oven off will allow all of that hot air to filter out into the kitchen and can potentially raise the overall temperature by a degree or two. While it may not sound like much, it can still lessen the load on your heating system at least temporarily.
Trusted HVAC Services in St. Louis
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your heating costs this winter, the expert team at Scott-Lee Heating Company is ready to help. We specialize in furnace maintenance and repairs for residential and commercial systems, and we can help ensure your heating system is as efficient and effective as possible. If you’re looking to replace or upgrade your furnace, we specialize in heating installation and can help you choose which model is best for your home. We also work on air conditioners, geothermal HVAC systems, ductless mini-split systems and heat pumps. Our team installs indoor air quality equipment and HVAC zoning systems as well, and we also do custom metalwork. To schedule a furnace tune-up or any other service, give us a call today.