Cut Your Heating Bill

Reduce the amount of warm air escaping from your home to cut your heat bill by insulating the ceiling well, replacing or sealing windows and doors.

| November/December 2008

  • Cozy fireplace
    Aside from saving on your gas or electric bill, fireplaces provide a soothing ambience during winter.
    iStockphoto.com/Kevin Brown
  • Insulating frame
    Add a layer of insulation in the attic if your existing insulation is old or compressed.
    iStockphoto.com/Oktay Ortakcioglu
  • Replacing windows
    Replacing leaky windows and doors with energy-efficient versions can save you bundles.
    iStockphoto.com/Ashok Rodrigues
  • Sunroom heat
    Free passive solar energy only requires planning ahead.
    iStockphoto.com/Ann Taylor-Hughes
  • Heating unit
    Consider a new, more efficient heating unit.
    iStockphoto.com/Timothy Babasade
  • Programmable thermostat
    A programmable thermostat can make a big difference in your bottom line.
    www.iStockphoto.com/Khuong Hoang
  • Gritty using solar energy.
    Gritty uses passive solar energy.
    Brad Anderson

  • Cozy fireplace
  • Insulating frame
  • Replacing windows
  • Sunroom heat
  • Heating unit
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Gritty using solar energy.

Heating and cooling uses about half the energy in an average home

If your HVAC system is 10 to 15 years old, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient model. And if you have the spare cash or can roll the cost into the financing of a new home or remodel, consider a geothermal heat pump. Geothermal (also known as ground source) heat pumps provide a way to heat and cool the home with minimal electricity because they use the subterranean earth as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer. These systems involve running fluid-filled tubes (or pipes) underground and add to the overall cost of an HVAC installation, but the added expense is quickly recovered in most cases. Geothermal systems save the average homeowner at least 30 percent a year in utility costs, according to Garth Gibson, territory manager for WaterFurnace International.

Check, clean, and/or replace the air filters in your heating and cooling equipment at least once a month. Dirty filters can substantially cut down on the unit’s efficiency.

Seal leaky duct seams. Also, make sure to schedule a service check on your furnace before the beginning of the winter season to ensure it’s working efficiently.

Free heat from the sun

Many folks associate solar energy with high-cost photovoltaic systems, but passive solar design takes advantage of the sun’s energy through a home’s structure, site placement and thermal mass.



Leigh Seddon, vice president of engineering at Solar Works Inc., in Montpelier, Vermont, says the first thing homebuilders should consider is the orientation of the home. The long axis of the house should face south and have many windows designed to take in the warmth of the sun on winter days. “You can reduce energy consumption by up to 30 percent by building a passive solar home,” Seddon says.

What do you do if you aren’t building a new house? You can open blinds or curtains when the sun shines through the window and close them when it doesn’t. You also might consider pruning trees or shrubbery to give the sun a clear path to south-, east- and west-facing windows. Houses that weren’t designed to take advantage of southern exposure also can benefit from a well-placed sunroom on the home’s south side that will passively capture plenty of natural heat in winter.





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