Reducing Heating Costs

Cutting Energy Costs

In the average home, more than 50 percent of energy costs go to heating and cooling. There are a number of ways to save money on heating costs. The most expensive, of course, is to completely upgrade your system with new equipment that employs energy-saving technologies. The second is to add supplemental heating sources that are energy efficient.

But for starters, you can do a lot to reduce your energy consumption by sealing up the drafty places in your home and changing the way you use your appliances.

Start with insulation around your doors and windows. Seal the spaces around hose bibs and air-conditioner lines from the outside condenser. Set up reflectors behind radiators on exterior walls. They come in various styles to match different interior designs.

Vacuum warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed. Make sure furniture doesn't block the circulation of the heat. Install a ceiling fan to move cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter; this simple addition helps equalize the temperature in the room, reducing hot and cold spots, and you can change the thermostat setting about 4 degrees without noticing any difference in comfort. Install a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature according to your schedule. Seal all joints on heat ducts with mastic (do not use duct tape; it deteriorates).

Changing the way you use energy also will save money. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. Rinse hand-washed dishes all at once rather than individually. Take short showers instead of baths. Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees. For further information do an Internet search for "reducing home heating costs."

Seal transitions

Air infiltration is a major cause of heat loss. Seal the openings around hose bibs, dryer vents, and any other openings to the outdoors. Use polyurethane foam. You can sand it down and paint it when it's dry.

Replace/clean filters

Cleaning furnace filters may not rank high on your list of maintenance priorities, but clean filters allow your furnace to run more efficiently, thus reducing heating costs. Clean or replace filters once a month during the heating season. Use a vacuum to clean nondisposable elements.

Insulate hot-water pipes

Foam insulation for pipe comes in tubes with a self-adhering seal. Cut the insulation to length, pry the slit open, and push the tube onto hot water pipes. Reclose the self-stick edges.

Install heat traps

Heat traps are small one-way valves that allow water to flow into the water heater but prevent unwanted hot water migration out of the tank. Inside the valves small balls float or sink into a seat, which stops convection. The valves are designed specifically for hot and cold water connections.

On-demand water heater

On-demand water heaters deliver hot water instantly but reduce heating costs because they employ a system that heats only the water you use. That way you don't use energy keeping a large volume of water at a constant temperature.

Insulate your water heater: Step 1

Water heater insulation jackets are sold in kits that come with belts to help make their installation easy and neat. Make cuts from the edge of the top insulation member so you can slide it to fit around the piping. Cut circles for the piping. Tape the cut section closed after the top has been installed. Fold the corners or the top down and tape them to the sides of the tank.

Insulate your water heater: Step 2

Run the blanket around the tank in such a way that the ends don't meet over the access panels to the burner or electric cathode. Fasten the belts in place, making sure the lower belt does not cross the access panel. If your insulation blanket does not come with belts, run tape around the top and bottom of the blanket, then tape the vertical seam.

Insulate your water heater: Step 3

Push on the blanket to locate the four corners of the access panel and make small "X" cuts at the corners. Cut a rectangular hole in the blanket between the Xs to provide easy access to the panel.


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