Saving energy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort or service in exchange for lower energy bills. In fact, saving energy through home efficiency and better system performance boosts comfort. Consider adding the following simple tips to your energy-saving strategy, and continue saving energy in the fall and winter in your Chicago area home.
It can be very tempting to crank the thermostat way up to quickly heat the home on cold mornings or when arriving home from work. However, turning the thermostat way up generally doesn't heat the home any faster than setting the thermostat to your normal comfort setting. All it does is give you the task of remembering to turn it back again or risk paying higher heating bills.
If you're still using a manual dial or digital thermostat, consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats offer a practical means to use consistent settings for energy savings during hours at work and sleeping, and automatically adjust to your preferred comfort temperatures, all according to your own preset temperatures and time changes.
If switching to a programmable thermostat wasn’t simple enough for saving energy in the fall and winter, try switching your traditional incandescent lighting to energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) last 10 to 25 times longer than traditional lighting, and they use 40 to 80 percent less electricity.
Single-pane windows are poor insulators and allow rapid heat loss if untreated. If you're remodeling, consider insulated windows that have the Energy Star label. However, installing window treatments is a practical measure to inhibit heat loss through the home envelope, lower the heating load on your furnace, save energy and beautify your home.
- Insulated panels: Insulated window panels made of rigid foam board offer excellent heat resistance. Insulating panels block sunlight, so you may wish to install them in rooms that receive little sunlight, which nullifies the gloomy light-blocking side-effect.
- Storm panels and shutters: You may install storm panels and shutters inside or outside the home. They're perhaps the most practical and effective window treatments to prevent heat loss. Storm panels and shutters also protect against inclement weather.
- Drapes: Heavy drapes help prevent uncomfortable drafts in the home. Using layers of drapes works much the same as dressing in warm layers of clothing. You can easily make adjustments to suit the weather. Open drapes during the daytime to allow sunlight into the home, and close drapes at night to best block heat loss.
Air Sealing and Insulating
The heating system must compensate for heat loss through the home envelope to keep your Chicago area home warm and comfortable. Sealing air leaks and adding insulation as needed are necessary for saving energy in the fall and winter.
- Air sealing: Weatherstripping, caulk and expanding foam spray are your basic sealing tools. Seal the attic hatch with foam weatherstripping. Foam or rubber weatherstripping may be used for entry doors, including the door to an attached garage. Caulk is good for small cracks around window frames.
- Insulating: If you use fiberglass or cellulose insulation in the attic, it should be about 20 inches thick, or R-60. Add fiberglass rolls as needed. First, check for mold and damaged insulation, remove and replace as needed.
Many home appliances use energy around the clock, which may during actual usage or using energy in standby mode. Following tips are important for saving energy in the fall and winter, and all year long.
- Small appliances: Connect small appliances, such as the microwave, toaster and coffee maker, to a power strip. This gives you the choice to turn off all power, including standby power, with a single flip of the switch. Do the same for home electronics.
- Large appliances: Use power-saving modes for the refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer, and the dish-washing machine.
- Water heating: Use low-flow shower heads and fixtures. Set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees rather than 140 degrees factory setting.
Fall HVAC maintenance is vital to keep your heating system operating safely and efficiently. Change the air filter each month through the fall and winter. Schedule heating system maintenance this fall with an HVAC contractor. Be sure that the contractor inspects the ductwork for leaks and deficiencies. Poor ductwork design quickly and consistently derails your energy-saving efforts and creates uncomfortable conditions from room to room.
For any questions about using these tips for saving energy in the fall and winter in your Chicago home, speak with a reputable HVAC contractor today by contacting Comfort24-7.com.