Many homeowners around the country have experienced sticker shock after receiving a few heating bills for the winter of 2021-2022. Although the natural gas can’t be controlled, there are several available steps to better insulate homes.
Not only will these steps result in lower heating costs, but inhabitants will feel more comfortable as well.
Why Warm Air Escapes in the Winter
People are often unaware that heat naturally seeks cold. In other words, the heat inside a home naturally gravitates outside of the home where little heat exists. This is one part of basic thermodynamics.
The other part is that heat attempts to balance the temperature in any environment by chasing after the colder air. Homeowners have probably noticed thermodynamics in action when the rooms in their house are at different temperatures. The reason this happens is that the heat present in one room automatically follows the cooler air in another room.
Heat can easily escape through windows, doors, crawl spaces, and attics when the seal is not tight enough. Of all these areas, homes lose the most heat through the attic due to inadequate insulation or poor insulation quality.
For example, fiberglass insulation tends to leak unless the person installing it cut it perfectly. Another possibility is that building codes for older homes were not as strict as they are today, resulting in poor attic insulation quality. Replacing attic insulation can make a big difference when it comes to improving energy efficiency.
Choose Energy Efficient Windows and Doors with a Proper R-Value
Just like any other part of a home, windows can wear out and become inefficient as the years go by. Homeowners also need to consider that today’s windows are far more insulating and energy efficient than those that may be over 10 years old or original to the home.
Determining the right R-value is important before investing in new windows. The term R-value represents how well the window resists the flow of heat from the inside to the outside. High R-value numbers mean that the window offers greater resistance to heat conduction through the panes and better thermal performance. Well-insulated windows help to make the house consistently warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Double-paned windows have additional insulation between the panes when compared to windows with only one pane. Replacing old windows with double-paned windows with a high R-value will reduce energy costs and improve comfort. Window R-values start at .09 and go to 8 or higher depending on the manufacturer.
Doors to a home can leak warm air due to poor seals or lack of insulation. Homeowners can also consider putting in new doors to improve energy efficiency by keeping heat inside the house. When selecting a new door, they should look for one with an R-value between 5 and 15 with higher numbers offering the greatest comfort and energy savings.
Both door and window manufacturers also assign a U-value to their products. Consumers should choose one based on the lowest possible U-value since this number refers to the amount of heat that typically escapes through the door or window.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
People who spend many hours a day away from home and want to come home to a warm house while saving money in the process can install a programmable thermostat. The house will be warm in the early morning and late evening hours and then cooler during the day and while the homeowners sleep at night.
Heating efficiency experts recommend programming the thermostat at 68 degrees while home in the morning and evening and 60 degrees for during the day and overnight. Programmable thermostats also help save energy during the summer and provides maximum cooling comfort at the same time.
Don’t Forget to Change the Furnace Filter Every Three Months
Homeowners should already be changing the filter of their heating and cooling system at the start of each new season, but the task is easy to forget. People who need a little extra reminder can set up an audible alarm on their smartphone or write it on the calendar for around December 1.
A clean furnace filter allows warm air to circulate through the home more freely and can also save approximately five percent on heating costs for the season.
Open the Drapes to Let in More Sunlight
Homeowners who already have drapes installed can use them to their advantage to improve comfort and energy efficiency during the winter. They just need to open the drapes when leaving for work in the morning to get free solar heat into the home. However, this tip will only work if the windows are clean. The drapes can remain open until shortly before sunset. Purchasing and installing insulated drapes is another option.