Because of the current political climate, the demand for natural energy sources has drastically increased while the rate of production stays the same. Besides that, the weather is also a factor as it’s becoming more extreme because of climate change. This contributes to higher prices, and you may have noticed that your utility bills have grown up. In this complex energy environment, you’d probably want to focus on staying within your home budget. Additionally, taking care of your heating bills positively impacts the planet. The following six tips will help you conserve energy and lower your heating expenses.
Insulate the Gaps
If your home isn’t properly insulated, there’s a lot of heating loss that affects your bills. A well-insulated home takes less energy to heat and is more comfortable. Insulating may sound hard, but it’s a job you can do by yourself. All you need is spray foam, caulk or weather stripping.
Firstly, insulating your attic will lower your heating bills because 25% of the heating losses happen through it. Check for air leaks in the areas where the walls meet the attic floor, the access hatch, and plumbing and electrical fixtures. If the gaps are small, they can be filled with spray foam or caulk.
Besides the attic, badly isolated windows, doors and walls contribute to 60% of heat loss. Double-glaze your windows, especially if your house is older, and spray foam around the gaps on the exterior and caulk on the interior. An alternative to these tasks is putting a “door snake” (drought excluder) at the bottom of your doors and windows.
The remaining 15% of heating losses happen through a poorly insulated floor. Leaky ducts can let heating energy escape into the walls and never actually make it into the room. Check the areas where the foundation meets the house’s framing and where plumbing and wiring enter the basement.
When looking for air leaks and gaps, these are the areas you should check:
- Windows and doors,
- Light fixtures,
- Outlets and switches.
Perform the candle test: light a candle and hold it near the area where you suspect an air leak is. If the flame flickers, there probably is one.
Wrap Vent Ducts
Vent fans are a significant contributor to heat escaping into the attic. Inadequate ductwork is likely the cause. Wrap the ducts with foil-faced fibreglass insulation, and you’ll lower your heating bills dramatically.
Update Your Boiler and Water Heating Controls
Checking your boiler is one of the simplest ways to cut down your heating expenses. Together with heating, hot water is a necessity we use every day, but your old boiler may cost you more to run than buying a new, energy-efficient one. Updating to a combi or an electric boiler may seem pricey, but it’s an investment that will pay itself back in the long run.
Check your heating controls if you can’t afford to buy a new boiler. If they’re old, replace them because newer controls are more accurate. The type of heating controls you need will depend on the type of heating system you have:
- Timer – turns your boiler on and off at set times;
- Programmer – allows for setting different temperatures and times for the different days of the week;
- Weather compensating thermostat – adjusts the boiler operation based on the outside temperature;
- Load compensating thermostat – adjusts the boiler operation based on the inside temperature;
Put your boiler in the correct setting. You only need it at its highest on the coldest days of winter. If you’re doing that, your boiler is needlessly heating water to high temperatures and wasting energy.
Consider switching to a condensing boiler. They recover heat usually lost from combustion gases by condensing water vapour within the gas and releasing heat energy. It’s then transferred into the cooler returned water from your radiator system. If your boiler cannot condense, a water temperature of 70°C should ensure that it does.
Set Your Thermostat
Setting the temperature in your house a few degrees lower during specific periods of the day can show a change in your heating bills. If you think you might forget to do it, there are automatic smart devices on the market. They record your heating consumption in real-time and track your temperature preferences, using the data to optimise your heating and cooling schedule. They can go around 10-12% down a year if you run your heating system just 5-10 degrees lower at night or when you’re not at home.
The following smart electric thermostats aren’t pricey. Even if they seem expensive, the money they save you will pay back in a few years.
- Room thermostat – measures how warm your room is and adjusts the temperature accordingly;
- Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) – allow you to adjust the temperature of individual radiators and turn them off completely;
- Smart thermostat heating system – allows you to control your heating remotely. Some are weather responsive, connecting to your smartphone or computer and monitoring the weather and inside temperature.
If you can’t afford to buy a smart meter, set the heating temperature to 20 degrees C or lower when you’re at home, and set it back to around 15 degrees C for all other times.
Check the Filters
The system’s filter in homes with forced-air heating should be replaced every few months for optimal efficiency. A dirty filter makes your furnace work harder, significantly increasing your heating bills. Here’s how you can do that yourself:
- Turn off the furnace.
- Remove the existing furnace filter. It’s located just inside the furnace or in the return air vent.
- Note the furnace filter size printed on the cardboard frame and purchase the same one from a hardware store, home retailer or an online store.
- Check for any markings telling you which side of the filter should face the furnace and slide it into the place of the old one.
- Replace any cover that goes over the filter.
To ensure you don’t miss a filter replacement, keep a record of the dates or set a reminder on your phone. There are also various electronic filters on the market that trap allergens and pathogens such as viruses.
Change Your Habits
If you can tolerate lower temperatures, put your heating on the lowest setting or turn it off completely. Here are some alternatives you can do instead:
- Allow the sunlight to enter your home and warm it up. Open the curtains/blinds to any south-facing windows during the day. Close them at night to trap in the heat. Thick curtains can also help with air leaks in the windows.
- Keep the fireplace damper closed if you have a fireplace unless the fire is burning. Put up a draft guard to cover the fireplace’s opening and prevent heat from escaping through the chimney for extra measures.
- Dress in layers and put on a pair of slippers.
- Serve yourself warm drinks.
- Decorate with warm accessories. Put warm sheets on your bed, rugs on the floor, blankets on the sofa, and armchairs to always reach out and grab them.
- Shut the doors of unused rooms. You won’t be heating extra space, and the one you’re using will get warm quicker, using less energy.
- Bake and cook. You can warm up your house by using the oven. Leave its door open to let out the remaining heat after you’re finished, and it’s cooling off.
Keeping yourself warm during the cold winter days is possible without your heating bills jumping through the roof. Try one or more of these tips to save some money.
If you’re still not seeing any changes in your monthly bills, perhaps it’s time to schedule an electrical consultation. A professional can give you a more accurate estimate of what needs to be fixed around your house.