Heating Your Home? Here’s What You Need to Know:
As many families spend more time at home these days, it is nearly impossible to avoid racking up a few monthly bills. That does not mean that you cannot still significantly reduce your Charleston heating and air costs, though. We are Trane Comfort Specialists and are here to help guide you through the best (and worst) ways to save on your heating bill this winter!
3 Common Myths Debunked by the Charleston Heating & Air Experts at AGL
1 – “You can save money by setting your thermostat lower during the day.”
Many homeowners choose to set the thermostat at a lower temperature when they know they will be gone most of the day. Once they return home in the evening, the thermostat is, of course, raised to a more comfortable temperature. People often believe that this practice will help them save energy (and money). However, the opposite is true. Frequently adjusting your thermostat actually puts more strain on your Charleston heating and air system. Each time your heat system is turned off, condensation builds up in the walls making it easier for heat to escape.
Not to mention, no one wants to come home to an icebox! You should not turn your heat off completely, as this may cause the pipes to freeze, resulting in extensive, costly damage to your Charleston HVAC system. The only time we recommend setting your heat on a lower temperature is if you are leaving home for an extended period, such as a business trip or vacation.
Many homeowners choose to set the thermostat at a lower temperature when they know they will be gone most of the day. Once they return home in the evening, the thermostat is, of course, raised to a more comfortable temperature. People often believe that this practice will help them save energy (and money). However, the opposite is true. Frequently adjusting your thermostat actually puts more strain on your heating and air system in Charleston, SC.
Your house becomes cool with the heat off, and so does your furniture, your walls, your bed, and the rest of your belongings. Your heating system now has to fight an uphill battle to re-heat the air and everything else inside of your home. Not to mention the sun has probably gone down and the outdoor temperature has dropped even lower.
In many cases adjusting your temperature a couple of degrees is ok. Keep in mind, the insulation of each house is different and the quality of each gas furnace or heat pump is different, so there isn’t one specific temperature that is best. If you plan to leave your home for days at a time then yes, feel free to make a major adjustment to the temperature. Do be cautious however, you do not want to let your house get too cold and freeze your pipes!
2 – “You can save energy by closing off vents in your unused rooms.”
You may have heard a common myth that you can save money by closing vents in rooms you don’t frequently use, maybe a guest bedroom or dining room. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
If the vents in your home are closed, the resulting blockage of air causes pressure to build up in the ducts, which forces the blower to circulate less air and adds stress to the blower motor. Lower airflow means that the heat pump or furnace can’t transfer enough heat to your home, and when the heat builds up, your gas furnace or heat pump system may short cycle. In other words, your heater too frequently turns on and off, which reduces its lifespan.
If the room is too warm, it is better to keep the vent partially open than closed off completely. Remember, the same amount of energy is being used whether your vents are open or closed, but the system will have to work significantly harder to compensate for an obstruction. A build-up of pressure in your air ducts can also lead to holes, cracks, and ripped seams. These duct leakages can then prevent warm air from reaching other rooms in your home which requires repair. However, most people don’t realize what’s happening, and thinking that their HVAC system isn’t working properly, will turn the thermostat up to heat the home. However, this “solution” worsens the actual problem, which is simply an obstructed vent.
3 – “Turn your thermostat up higher to heat your home faster.”
Despite our typically temperate seasonal weather, temperatures can quickly drop to the 40s and even thirties in the winter after the sun goes down. After taking a brisk winter stroll with your pet, both of you now feeling like breathing popsicles, you may rush inside and crank up your thermostat way above your normal temperature setting. The higher the temperature, the faster your home heats up, right? The answer of course is yes, to a degree (no pun intended).
If your system is a gas furnace, then, when it’s on, it’s on. Raising the temperature will not increase the speed of heating your home. If your system is a heat pump then raising the temperature will typically engage the heat strips and this is not an efficient way to heat your home. There are variable speed heat pumps and variable speed gas furnaces which are a little bit of an exception, but let’s stick to the basics. Another common issue is that many people will crank their thermostats up high and forget about them. Next thing they know their house is too hot. We suggest letting the system slowly get up to temperature so that it does not waste energy and your hard-earned dollars.
We truly believe in avoiding unnecessary stress on your furnace or heat pump so as to not shorten its lifespan. This takes us back to point one – avoid turning your thermostat lower when you leave each day so that you do not have to turn it back up to feel comfortable again and avoid turning your thermostat higher than you want it for fast heating. Maintaining a steady temperature around the clock is much better for your HVAC System in Charleston, SC.
5 Savvy Ways to Save When Heating Your Home
Now that we have debunked some common myths, let’s dive into how to save on heating and cooling costs.
1- Change Your HVAC Filters
A dirty or overused filter makes your heater work much harder, which means it costs more to run. Not to mention, dirty filters can pollute the air inside your home with dust, lint, and dirt. If you have loved ones with allergies or asthma, having clean, breathable air is of utmost importance. A build-up of these contaminants can result in a heater breakdown – most likely an expenditure you do not want to have to pay. To ensure high indoor air quality and avoid a costly energy bill, be sure to change your filters monthly.
2 – Properly Insulate Your Home
Ensuring that your home is properly insulated is an important part of cost-control. If you can better lock the heat from your heater inside the home, your HVAC won’t have to work as hard. However, if you do not have the proper insulation, air leaks are likely to occur. It’s a good idea to have a professional Charleston HVAC contractor take a look at your ductwork to see if your existing insulation needs to be spruced up, or if you need additional insulation in other areas of the home. Some solutions include sealing the perimeters of doors and windows with weatherstripping, You may also want to consider insulating your water pipes, water heater, attic, electrical boxes, and more.
3 – Securing Air Leaks & Vents
All air leaks and ductwork should be properly sealed to keep heat inside your home. Make sure to check pipes, wires, sealing off any holes. Outside air can seep in if the ductwork leaks into the attic or crawl space. Fixing duct leakage can save you over 20% on your heating expenditures, as your HVAC will no longer have to work as hard to compensate for the loss of heat. Vent fans going into the attic often lose a considerable amount of heat through the ductwork, so wrapping those with added insulation can help stop the waste.
If you are not familiar with the ins and outs of ductwork, you are not alone. You may want to consider enlisting the help of an HVAC professional to do a diagnostic check for you. That way, you are not spending money on things that do not need repairs while excluding others that do. However, you can easily do a vent check around your home without the help of a professional. A DIY vent inspection includes moving all furniture, curtains, etc., away from vents so that they can properly circulate the heat you are paying for.
4 – Energy Efficient Windows
Energy-efficient windows, specifically double-pane windows, might be worth the investment. Not only do they keep the heat in your home and cold air out, but also protect you during hurricane season in the Lowcountry. Cellular shades can also reduce heat loss. But without having to make an additional investment like new windows, you can still save. During the daylight hours, open any curtains and blinds to allow the sun to naturally warm your home, then close them at night to trap in the heat. On well-sunned sides of your home, keep trees, shrubbery, and plants pruned down so that you can receive full sunlight in the winter.
5 – Get a Tune-Up for Your Charleston, SC, HVAC System
While taking care of the little things around your home can help you save money on your heating bill, ultimately, having a properly running HVAC system will help you save the most on your next heating bill. Your furnace or heat pump should be tuned by a Charleston heating and air professional at least once a year. This small expenditure could help you save big down the road. Among other things, an HVAC technician will check all the components of your heater, including burners, exhaust vents, and blower motors, to make sure they are working at peak efficiency. A simple cleaning and routine maintenance of your system can make a huge difference in your energy bill.
If you need a heating company in Charleston, our team at AGL Heating and Air is here to help! With skilled and friendly technicians and years of reputable service, you can count on us to handle any HVAC issues you are experiencing. Learn more about the Charleston heating and air services we proudly offer on our website or contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our Trane Comfort Specialists!