How to Reduce Your Heating and Cooling Costs
The average United States household spends $2,060 per year on energy expenses. These expenses include heating and cooling, appliances and electronics usage, and lighting. Just under half of this total usage cost comes from heating and cooling expenses.
To reduce your heating and cooling costs, you’ll want to start by using your ceiling fans, having your HVAC inspected for efficiency, clean your AC filters, and have a home energy evaluation conducted to determine where you should focus your energy reduction efforts.
What Should You Set Your AC at to Save Money?
You should always set your thermostat to the highest temperature you can comfortably stand. Raising the temperature of your home by 10 to 15 degrees can result in 10% savings—and that’s just for eight hours of each day set at a higher temperature.
While you’re away you can bump up the AC to save money, but you probably don’t want to turn your home into a sauna while you’re there. Try keeping your AC at 78°F to save money without being too warm.
Is it More Expensive to Heat or Cool Your Home?
It is more expensive to heat your home than to cool it. This is due to the process of heating versus cooling. While cooling is done by pushing warm air out, heating is more energy-intensive. Heating is done through generating the heat itself which requires more energy to accomplish.
Put simply, making heat is more expensive than moving heat. This makes it more expensive to heat your home than to cool it.
11 Ways to Reduce Heating and Cooling Costs
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs you’ll have options that are behavioral-changes and those that will require upfront monetary investment to achieve. We recommend starting with the habit changes right away. All it costs is a little bit of your time. For the highest reduction in heating and cooling costs, you’ll want to do all the following with the addition of a home energy evaluation.
1. Use Ceiling Fans
Using ceiling fans can help your home feel 6 degrees cooler. When you’re battling the heat of Florida summers, this is something you’ll definitely want to take advantage of. See if you can get by with just your ceiling fan or bump your thermostat up and use it alongside your ceiling fan.
While you may be more familiar with using your fan just for cooling, by switching its direction you can use ceiling fans during cold months as well. This means when you want to cool your home the fan should spin counterclockwise and when you want it to warm your home you should set it to spin clockwise.
2. Lock Windows and Doors
Locking your windows and doors can help to further insulate your home. This is because locking windows or doors will pull it closer to the weatherstripping. This then creates a tighter seal and allows less air to escape.
This may sound over-the-top but every little detail can get you closer to lower energy costs. Plus, it only takes a minute to do.
3. Have Your HVAC Unit Inspected
Regular maintenance and tune-ups keep your HVAC working efficiently. If your unit hasn’t been inspected in a while there’s a chance it isn’t operating to the best of its abilities. Your HVAC technician will do the following to improve your HVAC’s efficiency:
- Tighten electrical connections
- Check for inefficiency in heating and cooling
- Test switches
- Clean out the burners
- Inspect the pilot system
This will help save you money both on energy costs and on future repairs. It’s a win-win.
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4. Be Aware of When and How You Use Appliances
You’ll want to unplug any appliance not in use or that won’t be used for several days. This includes appliances like TVs, computers, and microwaves. These instant-on appliances are using electricity even when not being actively used.
Also, when cooking, you should opt for smaller appliances like a toaster or microwave. If you can avoid using your oven, keep it off. Ovens use far more energy than other kitchen appliances.
If possible, you’ll want to move your freezer and refrigerator away from your oven or dishwasher. If it produces heat you don’t want your refrigerator near it. This will rack up energy usage as your fridge works overtime to keep its contents cool.
By being conscious of these small changes you can bring your monthly cost of energy down. After a while, you’ll become used to these habits and won’t even notice you’re doing them.
5. Weatherize Your Home
Weatherizing your home is a more extensive, time-consuming process than the other recommendations in this list. It is designed to use a combination of small, easy, and cheap fixes that together will make a tremendous effect on the energy efficiency of your home. To weatherize your home you’ll do the following:
- Add any needed weatherstripping or insulation to the attic opening
- Add foam gaskets behind electrical outlets
- Add foam gaskets to any switches located on exterior walls of the home
- Check to see if your windows are storm windows and if they have the proper glazing
- Add new weatherstripping around the edges of doors and windows
- Chaulk edges of all doors and windows
- Check for openings from the exterior of your home
- Install insulated drapes
Other places you’ll want to weatherize are your garage door and your fireplace.
6. Upgrade and Seal Windows
Part of weatherizing your home includes chaulking, weatherstripping, and checking the glazing of windows. Take some extra time to assess the status of your windows. 38% of your heat or cool air is lost through leaks so you want to be extra diligent about remedying any cracks.
You’ll want to chaulk around your windows once every five years. Weatherstripping, however, should be examined and potentially replaced twice a year.
7. Clean Your AC Filters
Having a dirty AC filter makes it harder for your unit to cool or heat your home. Help your HVAC unit by routinely switching out your AC filter. This should be done once every ninety days on average. If you have pets you’ll likely want to bump the frequency to once a month. This can help lower your energy use by up to 15%.
8. Use Blinds and Curtains to Block Out Sunlight
Something simple you can do in both cold and warm weather is making your curtains work in your favor. If your home is too warm, closing the blinds and curtains will help conserve the cool air. The opposite is true of cold days when you’ll want to open the blinds and welcome in as much sunlight as possible.
9. Install Solar Panels
If you’re looking for a bigger impact on reducing energy costs then installing solar panels may be the right move for you. Having solar panels on your home can reduce energy costs by up to $540 a year.
Plus, homes with solar panels installed sell for an average of 4.1% more than homes without. With benefits this clear, it doesn’t make sense to skip out on adding solar energy to your home.
10. Adjust Your Thermostat or Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Adjusting your thermostat, or programming it to change, to be warmer while you’re away will help cut energy consumption by 10%. Try keeping your air off for eight hours each day while you’re at work. This can help you to use 1% less energy for every degree lowered in that 8-hour period. Over time this will add up to major savings for you.
11. Have Ductwork Inspected
Having your air ducts inspected can reveal poor insulation or sealing which could be the cause of higher energy costs. Having these ducts sealed and insulated can get your home on the right track to energy conservation. Try to have your ductwork inspected by a professional every three to five years.
Get a Free Home Energy Evaluation
Home energy evaluations can cost up to $400. With a price tag that large, you are significantly cutting into any uncovered energy savings. Not to mention, many energy savings will require other home improvement efforts which only add to the cost.
Rinaldi’s offers home energy evaluations completely free of charge. These evaluations can net you 70% savings on your monthly energy expenses. During the evaluations we assess:
- Air conditioning
- Water heaters
To get started with your free home energy evaluation, give us a call and book your appointment.
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Contact us for more information or to schedule your inspection.