(BPT) – The heat will be on this winter. With winter storms hitting parts of the country early, furnaces cause heating bills to rise. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the typical U.S. family spends at least $2,200 per year on energy bills; half going toward heating and cooling.
To help homeowners combat these costs, Valerie Mastalka-a home-heating/energy-efficiency expert at Lennox-suggests looking for areas to optimize cold and hot air.
“There are many simple and affordable ways consumers can save on utility bills and still stay warm as temperatures begin to drop,” said Mastalka. “By taking the initiative to weatherproof their homes before the cold season, homeowners can enjoy a warmer and more efficient house. Just a few quick checks and adjustments can yield dividends in long-term savings and comfort.”
It’s important to inspect the roof to confirm shingles placement to prevent water from seeping. Mastalka cautions against the danger of being on the roof once cold weather arrives, so be sure to inspect it beforehand. If you find large gaps, hire a quality roofing company to repair the areas. Also avoid covering roof vents or turbines since this will prevent air from properly circulating, which will reduce the overall efficiency.
Air leaks caused by cracks or holes can let warm air escape and keep cold air in, preventing you from maintaining a consistent indoor temperature. To identify air leaks in outside-facing walls or doors, try holding a candle near suspect areas to reveal drafts and seal with caulk or weather stripping.
Mind the (chimney) gaps. To prevent indoor air from escaping, Mastalka reminds homeowners to keep fireplace dampers closed when not in use; however, always make sure the damper is fully opened before starting a fire. Look for gaps in the mortar between bricks, since it allows moisture to build and compromise the roof’s integrity. Also check for soot accumulation in the chimney. And if needed, hire a professional chimney sweep to perform a thorough cleaning before winter.
FURNACE FIX UP
Don’t forget the furnace. Mastalka recommends having your furnace thoroughly inspected by a certified technician. In addition, change furnace filters once a month and vacuum the heater vents in living areas to keep your heating system clean and efficient. If your furnace is older than 15 years, upgrade to a high-efficiency system, such as a variable-speed furnace, which can save hundreds of dollars on utility costs.
ATTEND TO YOUR ATTIC
The attic is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to heat loss. If you’re experiencing high-heating bills and difficulty keeping your home warm, it could be time to add additional attic insulation. Mastalka recommends attic insulation should be approximately five inches deep. Homeowners can hire a professional or add insulation themselves with rental blowing units from any home-improvement store.
READY FOR THE WINTER
By making a few minor home adjustments, you can reduce safety concerns and wasted energy while staying comfortable during the cold. To learn more about home energy efficiency and how you can save money on utility bills during the cold months, visit www.lennox.com/lennox-life or www.facebook.com/Lennox.
Or for more home-improvement reading, visit our HomeBase corner here.