How can I save money on my heating bills?

There are several ways to lower the cost to heat your home, let us assume you are heating your home with gas fired equipment, a reasonable return on investment is expected and the average winter temperature is below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Let us examine the areas where potential savings exist.

  • Structure: By reviewing several of the components that make up the envelope of your home creates, we can analyze where there is room for improvement and what impact that has on your energy costs.
  1.  Windows account for about 50% of an average homes heat loss. If your current windows are double hung with just single pane glass, storm windows could cut the heat loss thru the windows by 32%; change the windows (frame and glass) to new double pane glass with insulated vinyl frames and the reduction in loss from the original windows will be 47%.
  2. The second major component is your attic which accounts for about 20% of your homes heat loss. If your insulation is rated at an R-19, increasing to an R-38 will reduce heat loss in the attic by 50%; the expense and time required is minimal compared to the savings.
  3. The wall are another large area where heat is lost from your home, usually about 10% of your heating requirements. Filling in an existing wall cavity can require the removal of drywall to do it properly, existing conduits, window / door headers and even fire stops can interfere with attempting to blow in insulation. Therefore, filling in the existing wall cavity can be expensive and intrusive. If your home requires new siding, insulating the wall from the exterior with foam board and using an approved house wrap to cut down on air infiltration can be done rather inexpensively compared to removing drywall.
  • Mechanical: Your homes mechanical systems such as the furnace and water heater may be using more energy then necessary if they have not been properly maintained or are over 20 years old.
  1. Your furnace may only be 78% efficient if it is 20 years old, replacing it with a 95% efficient furnace will lower the cost of heating your home by 17%. Additionally, with better controls from advanced technology; temperatures in your home will be even, avoiding that blast of hot air when the unit is running and draftiness when it is off.
  2. Water heaters not only use a lot of energy to raise the temperature of 50 degree ground water to 120 degrees, but the cost to storage and losses in the distribution system can really add to the cost of heating water. 90% efficient water heaters will lower the gas consumption to heat the water, insulating hot water pipes will cut down on distribution losses thru the pipe and insulating the water tank or even a tank-less heater will reduce the cost of storage.
  3. Thermostats are another way to control your heating expenses. Using a programmable thermostat can generally save you 5% if used correctly. A setback period should be about 8 hours and you should have two per day (one while gone to work and one while sleeping) to get maximum savings. Set back temperatures should be about 5 to 8 degrees, depending on your regular set point.

In conclusion, there are several ways to cut the cost of energy in your home, some more expensive than others, some considered normal maintenance after a home reaches a certain age. Consult a local contractor if you are unsure, contractors such as RJ Kuhn Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning will provide you with valuable information at the time they are providing you with an estimate to save energy.