Indiana winters are brutal. While there is no way around the need to heat our homes in
the winter, there are several ways to save on unnecessary heat and energy loss. Some of
these tips are simple things you can do on your own, while others require a contractor.
1. Set your water heater to about 120 degrees- Most homes have their water
heaters set near to 140 degrees. By reducing the temperature of your water heater,
you can save up to 15% on your water heating expenses.
2. Don’t let heat escape unnecessarily- Keep doors & windows shut, close your
fireplace flue & doors, insulate your home, and caulk and seal your windows and
doorframes. If you think you might have a leaky window or doorframe, test out
the area with a candle. Simply light a candle and hold it in front of the window
and door areas. If the candle flickers and moves, you have identified an area
where heat is escaping and cold air is coming in.
Another take on this is to keep heat in that you are already generating. When you
are done baking, leave your oven door open a little bit. Open the bathroom door
when you get out of the shower or bath. You will be surprised how much heat
3. Be strategic about your windows: Curtains and blinds should be open on cold
but sunny days to take advantage of the warming of the Sun’s rays. On gray days
and at sunset, close the curtains and blinds. This will prevent some of the heat
loss through windows. Deciduous trees planted on the east and west sides of your
home are also a great way to reduce heat loss and increase the Sun’s warming
rays into your home. The leaves provide a barrier from the hot rays during the
summer months, and they fall away in time to allow the rays in during the
4. Maintain the humidity level in your home: When your home’s air is too dry,
your furnace has to work a lot harder to maintain what feels to us like comfortable
heat. When the air is at the optimal level of moisture, your furnace doesn’t have to
work as hard to leave your home feeling warm and cozy.
5. Change your air filter regularly: Check your filter every month, especially
during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a
month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter
will slow down airflow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or
cool, wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building
up in the system, leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.
6. Seal your heating and cooling ducts: Ducts are often big energy wasters.
Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and
cooling system by up to 20%.
7. Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly: This works a lot like tuning up your
car. When your car is well maintained, you get better gas mileage and a longer
running vehicle. A yearly clean and check of your heating and cooling system
will save you money on your monthly bills, and it will help keep your system run
better and last longer.
8. Install a programmable thermostat: These are ideal for people who are away
from home during set periods of time. Proper use of a pre-programmed thermostat
can save you over $150 a year in energy costs. Whenever you can lower your
thermostat drastically for a few days or more, you will save on the operation of
your refrigerator and freezer as well. They don’t have to work as hard to maintain
their cooler temperature.
Try reducing the heat in your home one degree at a time. For each one degree
drop for 8 hours, you reduce your heating bill by up to 1%. You may even want to
turn down your thermostat 5-10 degrees at night. If you can bundle up and handle
a cooler night, you can save up to 5-10% of your heating bill. Those savings will
more than pay for a few extra blankets.
* It is a common myth that when you reduce the thermostat for a few hours
your furnace will have to work harder to bring your heat back up to the right
temperature. You will use less energy overall even when you warm up your house
from a cooler temperature.
9. Match your system for optimal efficiency: An additional factor that affects
the efficiency of your heating and cooling system is the indoor coil. This is also
called the evaporator coil. In order to maximize the SEER and HSPF ratings and
get maximal performance, your heat pump and air conditioner should be matched
with the correct indoor coil.
10. Consider investing in a high-efficiency HVAC system: If your furnace is
approaching or past 15 years old, consider investing in new equipment. The loss
of efficiency of older, inefficient systems is showing up monthly in your bill. You
would be surprised how quickly a new, high-efficiency HVAC system will pay
for itself in reduced monthly heating and air conditioning bills. You may even
look into hybrid heating methods that use heat pumps to save even more on your