Cut Your Heating Bill

Ten ways to decrease your energy costs this winter.

| November/December 2008

Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency 

Even though fuel and electric costs continue to rise, you can minimize the hit to your pocketbook this winter. From replacing your outdated HVAC system to simple sealing solutions, here are some energy saving techniques for every budget.

1.  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.

2.  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.

3.  Insulate, insulate, insulate. Most folks know that insulation in the walls is important for keeping a stable temperature, but in winter, it’s the insulation over your head that is often matters most. Check the attic for sufficient insulation and add a layer if it is old and compressed or virtually nonexistent. You can add a vapor barrier, too, which will make it more effective by keeping the insulation dry. If your place has a crawl space, make sure there is a vapor barrier on the ground and insulation between the floor joists.

6/30/2014 10:59:35 AM

If you want small energy consume than the only way to reach that is by looking for information. I wish I could believe that most people that have heating systems today in their homes are aware of their options but I am not sure this is a fact. I learned about some great solutions when I decided to replace my old hvac. Thankfully was a real support for me.

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