When you own your own home, you know that paying for a house is more than just writing a check for the mortgage each month. You have to pay for upkeep, maintenance, and, of course, utilities to keep your home comfortable. Water, heating, cooling … those utility bills can be expensive! In 2012, the US Department of Energy found that on average, Americans were spending around $3,052 annually on home utility costs. Of that, the largest percentage of the money you spend (48%) goes to heating and cooling your home. Sometimes it feels like being warm in the winter and cool in the summer just isn’t worth it when you see that bill in the mail! But there are many ways you can keep your home comfortable without breaking the bank. Here are 10 easy ways to reduce your heating and cooling costs!
- Adjust Your Thermostat
According to the US Department of Energy, you can save 10% on your heating and cooling costs by changing your thermometer when you’re sleeping or out of the house. They even say you can save 1% per 1°F for an 8-hour period. So, in the winter, bring a hot water bottle to bed and invest in some flannel jammies and turn down your thermostat. In the summer, turn your air conditioner off when you leave for work and turn it back on when you get home.
If you have a programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat, you can program it to do this on its own. Have it start heating or cooling before you get back to the house so it’s a comfortable temperature when you arrive.
- Use Your Windows
Your windows can help you keep your home comfortable throughout the year, but only if they have the right coverings. Adding curtains to your room can reduce heat loss by 10%, according to Energy.gov. During the winter, open your drapes or blinds on the south side of your home to bring the heat into your home. Keep your windows free from trees and shrubs in the winter so the rays aren’t being blocked.
In the summer, keep your blinds and windows closed to block the heat. If you have blinds, close them completely to reduce heat gain by 45%. If you have drapes, switch them out for medium colors with white-plastic backings to reduce heat gains by 33%. Let shrubbery and plants grow over the windows or add awnings to provide shade, which can reduce heat gain by 77% on west-facing windows.
- Keep HVAC Registers Clear
Your HVAC system uses energy to take air in, heat or cool it, and then push it through your home. Don’t make it work harder to get your home to the set temperature by placing obstacles over the heat registers. If you have furniture or décor blocking the registers, rearrange your room to provide a clear path for the air to circulate.
- Block and Damper your Fireplace
If you’re not using your fireplace, make sure to block the flu, as much of your heated or cooled air can escape through the chimney. Besides using the damper, you can install glass doors around the fireplace, or invest in a chimney balloon.
- Only Heat the Rooms You’re Using
On that same note, if you have a storage or guest room that isn’t being used, block and shut off the registers for those rooms. That will make it so your HVAC system has to use less energy to get and keep the rest of your home comfortable.
- Use Your Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans can be an excellent way to reduce your heating and cooling costs in both seasons! In the summer, make sure your ceiling fans are going counterclockwise and bringing cooler air down. Using your ceiling fans in the summer can make it feel 6 degrees cooler in your home, letting you increase your thermostat 6 degrees higher, according to Lighting and Décor Magazine, which saves you that 1% per degree on your heating and cooling costs.
In the winter, you can use your ceiling fans to cut costs as well. If you change the ceiling fan’s rotation to clockwise and set it to low, it will bring warm air that’s risen to the ceiling back down to the living area. US News says this trick can save up to 15% on your heating bill.
- Lock Your Windows and Doors
When you lock your windows and doors, they are usually pulled tighter against the weather stripping of their frames. This can help seal the windows and doors from leaks and won’t let the cool or warm air out.
- Replace Your Filter
A dirty filter makes it hard for your HVAC system to bring hot or cold air and make it comfortable for your home. When your HVAC system is working harder, that means it’s using more energy and that hits you hard on your bill. Change your HVAC filter at least every three months, if not every month in the hottest and coldest seasons. According to the US Department of Energy, changing your filter can lower your energy consumption by 5-15%. Read more on how to change or clean your furnace filter here.
- Find and Seal Leaks
In the winter, 38% of your home’s heat is lost through leaks in ductwork, around doors and windows. Finding and sealing leaks can help you stop losing warmed or cooled air. This might be sealing the ductwork in your home or caulking windows. You also may need to lower or raise the threshold of your door or replace the weather stripping around the bottom. If you can see light through the crack below your door, you need new weather stripping and you most likely are losing that cooled or heated air through that crack. Learn how to easily do your own weatherstripping on your own door with our DIY post!
- Maintain Your HVAC System!
Energy Star says completing regular maintenance and getting tune-ups on your HVAC system can make your HVAC system run more efficiently and provide more comfort to your home. With a home warranty from Landmark, you can get a tune-up for the mere cost of a service call fee. The contractor will tighten your electrical connections, check the heating and cooling operations, inspect the pilot system in your furnace, test the safety and limit switches, clean your burners, and more. This can not only increase efficiency and save you money on your HVAC bills but it can nip more costly problems in the bud before they cause major damage to your system. Learn more about getting a furnace tune-up here.