Reducing Home Heating and Cooling Costs

Heating the house in the winter and cooling it in the summer can result in high utility bills, which certainly puts a strain on your budget. There are a few things you can do in order to cut back on heating and cooling costs.

Upgrade Your Thermostat
A programmable thermostat is an important tool for helping you save money. You can program the temperature to be more comfortable when people are home.  And, for times when you know people won't be home, you can program the thermostat to lower the temperature in the winter and increase it in the summer.  You may be able to save as much as seven percent simply by setting back the thermostat by 10 degrees. Be careful not to set the thermostat too low if you go on vacation in the winter or you may come home to frozen pipes.

Utilize the Sun
During the winter, keep drapes and shades open during the day on south-facing windows to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home.  During the summer months, try to keep window coverings fully or at least partially closed during the day to prevent the sun from warming your house.  Later in the day, the air conditioner or fans won’t have to work as hard to cool the house.
  In the summer, try to make sure the air conditioner compressor-condenser unit is shaded by a building, fence or plantings so it will not have to work as hard. However, you want to make sure that there is also enough space for air movement around the unit.

Air Flow is Important
Close air supply registers and vents in the basement and in rooms that are not used. You can also close doors on stairwells and room doors on the upper levels to control the flow of air.  Clean or replace furnace filters on a regular basis as needed. Also, make sure air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes. 

Look for Air Leaks
Look for areas where your house may be leaking. Leaks will allow warm air and humidity to seep in during the summer, and cold air to enter during the winter. Caulking and weather stripping the house to seal any leaks will help save money. If your utility company offers a free energy efficiency analysis, take advantage of the service and make an appointment. 

Replace Old Equipment
If your furnace or air conditioner is old, it's probably far less efficient than newer models.  For example, furnaces manufactured after 1992 must be at least 78 percent efficient in order to meet federal requirements.  Some operate in the 90 percent efficiency range.