Want to ensure your loved ones stay warm and cozy as autumn falls? We've gathered energy-savings home maintenance tips, including advice from the Department of Energy (DOE) that can help you get your home ready. If you're looking for ways to lower your energy costs over the long term and save money on your energy bill, follow these tips.
Maintenance for Heating and Air
The DOE estimates that homes with central heating “can lose about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system.” They recommend that, as part of preparing for cooler weather, homeowners ensure ducts are properly sealed and insulated. Doing so “can potentially reduce annual energy bills by $120 or more.”
- Schedule a once-yearly maintenance service now on your heating system or furnace. Don’t wait for winter. Better to catch and fix any potential issues before you really need the heat.
- Inspect your HVAC system if you live in an area where winter stays warm and your home uses air conditioning for much of the year, or schedule a service checkup.
- Change the air filter in your air conditioning system regularly to improve the overall air quality in your home. Changing filters can also help improve your heating system’s efficiency. During heavy-use months, it is recommended that you change or clean the furnace filter once per month.
- Use your programmable thermostat. Setting it to turn on and off according to your daily schedule can help reduce your energy costs.
- Hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean out the chimney. A sweep will check that the damper closes firmly shut when not in use and look for cracks in the mortar or around the firebox as well.
Exterior and Interior Home Maintenance
Adding insulation is a wise investment and can pay for itself within a few years, but with winter ahead, these basic maintenance tips can help reduce your heating bill before your usage starts to hit its peak.
- Clean the gutters. Not only is this important because falling leaves will clog your gutters, but as you clean out the gutters you can also check them for layers of asphalt grit. The grit comes off roof tiles and can be a sign that your roof needs replacing. You should also run water through cleaned gutters to look for any leaks. Cracks or leaks in gutters left unfixed can lead to water damage.
- Inspect the outside of your home’s door and window frames for cracks. Seal cracks with exterior caulk immediately. Air leaks waste a lot of energy and also make your furnace work harder.
- Switch ceiling fan blades to run clockwise. When on, the fan creates an updraft that pulls up cooler air and pushes down warmer air generated from the furnace.
- Keep your shades and curtains open during the day to let sunlight in. At night, close window coverings to keep the heat in.
- Replace one of your oldest home appliances before winter, when energy bills hit their peak. Older refrigerators, particularly that additional refrigerator in the garage, as well as older washers and dryers, are energy hogs. Replacing just one of your older appliances with a newer model can save you in overall energy costs.
- Contact your local energy provider and ask whether the company offers free energy audit programs. An energy audit can help you find ways to improve overall energy efficiency in your home.