How can I save on my heating & cooling bill?

No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you use, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, your heating and cooling system uses more energy than any other system in your home. The EERE estimates heating and cooling accounts for roughly 43 percent of a typical utility bill.

You can save money by properly maintaining and upgrading your heating and cooling system. However, says the EERE, upgrading to an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach to reducing energy consumption. Homeowners should combine proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings. The EERE estimates homeowners doing so can cut energy use for heating and cooling, and reduce environmental emissions, from 20 percent to 50 percent.

Heating and Cooling Tips from the EERE
  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as as comfortable in the summer.

  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.

  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.

  • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.

  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.

  • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.

  • During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

  • During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.
Long-Term Savings Tips from the EERE
  • Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. For furnaces, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR models on the market that exceed 90% AFUE.

  • For air conditioners, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners. ENERGY STAR models are 14 SEER or more.
Source: Department of Energy

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