Your heating system is responsible for providing warm air to your building. However, it can also account for anywhere between 40-55% of your energy use. Run it too often, and you can expect a big heating bill. Keep it too cold, and you’ll have to bundle up to stay warm when you’re inside.
Luckily, there are a variety of ways you can improve your system’s efficiency and still stay cozy, whether you’re heating a home or a commercial space. These winter energy saving tips will help you cut heating costs, maintain your air quality, and prevent mechanical issues in your heating equipment.
1. Mind your thermostat
The thermostat controls the running cycle of your HVAC system, and it is one of the primary ways you can improve your energy efficiency. It’s a good idea to turn it down any time you leave. Ideally, the temperature setting shouldn’t vary more than 8-10 degrees throughout the day, so if your preferred setting is 70 degrees, you should have it programmed at about 62 degrees for the times you are gone. Doing so will prevent your system from working too hard and wasting too much energy.
If you have a programmable thermostat, you can save energy and keep your home or building more comfortable. Having the thermostat start its cycle about 20 minutes before you plan to arrive will give it enough of a head start for the space to be at a comfortable temperature when you get there.
2. Install high-quality air filters and keep them clean
Cheap air filters will protect your HVAC system from large debris, but proper commercial air conditioning maintenance requires a little more of an investment. Improving your air quality can help with allergies and reduce air pollutants that furnaces can create.1 Select an air filter that best suits your needs, and check it once a month to make sure it’s clean. Obstructed air filters will overwork your system, and in some cases can cause mechanical failure in your blower motor.
If you have a heat pump, the air filters work a little differently. Most of them can be cleaned out and reused before they need to be changed. Your HVAC specialist can show you the best way to maintain your filters and ensure your system is operating at peak efficiency.
3. Check the air vents
The air ducts allow conditioned air to flow freely throughout your building, but they can’t work efficiently if there are blockages. You should routinely remove dust and other debris from the supply vent and the return vents. You should also give them plenty of clearance to allow air to flow freely. Each vent should have a minimum of 10” of clearance around it to allow air to circulate the room.
If you have a boiler, your heating system won’t be affected by the vents in your building. Instead, take the time to clean each radiator every couple of weeks. Turn the system off and use a vacuum cleaner to remove any loose dust or debris, then take some soapy water and a sponge to the surface to remove any buildup. A radiator doesn’t need as much space around it as vents do, but it’s a good idea to leave at least six inches.
4. Inspect your ductwork
Traditional heating systems rely on ductwork to deliver heated air throughout the building, but unfortunately these ducts are hidden in the walls or ceiling. Even a small air leak can impact the efficiency of your system. An HVAC contractor can check your ductwork for blockages and damage that overwork your heater and make it difficult to heat rooms that are further away from the furnace.
5. Add insulation
Heat loss can occur throughout a home or building. Some of the most common culprits are cracks in the walls, windows, and doors, as well as spaces in the attic and floors. Anywhere you can feel cold air coming through your house should be resealed. Small cracks can be sealed with caulk, but larger cracks may require more significant work to fix. Weather stripping works well around doors and some windows, and you can use plastic window insulators for a cost–effective way to reduce heat loss. Adding insulated curtains can also make a big difference in both the warm and cold weather.
However, if your ducts have heat loss, they won’t circulate warm air as effectively. An HVAC specialist can add insulation to your ductwork to keep the warm air from escaping through the attic and ensure the system can warm the building evenly.2
6. Take advantage of ceiling fans
Ceiling fans can be just as beneficial in the winter as they are in the summer. Nearly every ceiling fan will have a switch that allows you to change the direction that the blades spin. In summer, they should be moving counterclockwise. In winter, you can set them to spin clockwise to help circulate heated air that gets trapped around the ceiling. This can improve your airflow, help clean out stale air, and keep your building evenly warmed. However, if you have the fan set too high, you may start to feel cold air underneath it.3
7. Hire a professional for routine maintenance
Regular maintenance can help lower your winter heating costs and save you money by extending the lifespan of your central heating equipment. An HVAC specialist can clean and lubricate your system, check the electrical connections and safety equipment, and recommend ways to improve the performance to keep your home or building more comfortable. These steps should be taken once a year, ideally in the fall before you expect to run your heater daily.
Simpson Sheet Metal offers residential and commercial heating repair and maintenance programs that can provide a safe, comfortable environment for your family or employees. We are a family business that has offered custom residential and commercial HVAC installations and maintenance in the Santa Rosa area for over 30 years. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.