Everyone has an opinion on everything these days: each person “knows” the best way to do things and they are happy to tell you about it. Unfortunately, much of the advice out there is based on nothing more than things people have heard, or things their grandmother did, rather than on experience.
And experience will tell you that many of the tips on saving energy on home heating are wrong.
Here’s some of the advice that you may have heard, but really just waste energy and money. There are more tips from Academy Air on their website.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but closing vents in rooms that don’t get used very often actually makes your heating unit work harder. Many people think that by shutting vents, the unit can send more heat to the rooms that are used, making them heat up more quickly, but this is wrong.
There is only so much air the heating unit can generate at once and the system has been designed to send the correct amount of air to each room. This is a balance that, when disrupted, can put undue strain on the unit, causing malfunctions and the need to repair more often. There will not be more warm air coming from the ducts through the rest of the house.
Closing the vents also wastes energy by creating a pressure difference between the warmer parts of the house and the cooler parts, This will force the heating unit to stay on longer than if the vents were open, costing you money.
Trying to Heat the House Too Quickly
Another common misconception is that if you crank up the thermostat, then the unit will heat your house faster. Turning up the temperature is not like stepping on the gas pedal: air doesn’t come out faster or hotter as the thermostat is set higher.
Rather, this forces your heating unit to work harder, for longer. Again, only a certain volume of air comes out of the vents at a time, and it’s also a certain temperature. If the house is at 68ºF and want it to be 72ºF, it will reach that temperature at the same rate whether you set the thermostat to 72º or 85º. What ends up happening is that it reaches 72º and continues to work until it reaches 85º, an unnecessary and costly temperature.
Keeping your house within a small, steady range of temperatures is the most cost-effective and energy-efficient way to run your heating unit.
Using a Fireplace or Woodstove
Maybe you think that you can save money and energy if you install a fireplace or woodstove, but either of those options should be for aesthetic purposes or complementary heating only.
If you like the way a fireplace looks, or you want to help heat a main living area, that’s fine. But fireplaces and woodstoves are horribly inefficient and hating your house with these will end up costing you more money as well as your comfort. Nearly all of the heat generated by gas or wood-burning devices goes right up the chimney or flue, leaving you with little more than some heat right next it.
Even if you use one as a compliment to your heating unit, the fireplace will have little to no effect in the unit’s running time, because it has to compensate for the inefficiency. So save the fireplace for date night and use it sparingly, otherwise you may see your energy usage increase.
Performing Maintenance Yourself
While it is always good practice to keep your air vents clean and free flowing and performing other small duties, you should never attempt to take on any major repairs by yourself. The heating unit itself is a complex piece of equipment that requires special tools and knowledge to fix correctly. Even fixing leaking ductwork may seem easy, but there is a chance you can cause more damage: duct tape is not necessarily the best fix for duct work!
Instead, hire a professional to perform a routine system check once a year. These visits can be fairly cheap and they will inspect all aspects of the heating system. This will allow them to catch any potential problems and fix anything that needs attention immediately, saving you trouble and money in the future. This way, when winter comes, your system will be ready to keep you warm and comfortable.
Don’t fall for the heating myths that will end up costing you money.
Summer Fisher has been working to reduce her energy bills; easier said than done with 3 teenagers in the house who keep turning the thermostat up instead of down! She shares her tips on saving energy, saving money but keeping warm, and sane!