Winter comes to North Chesterfield, Virginia, with some pretty cold and damp days and nights. As the temperature outside drops, the workload on your heating system increases and energy costs rise. Like many people, you may decide to use some kind of portable space heater, especially if your HVAC system isn't maintaining a comfortable temperature. But space heaters are expensive to operate and create serious safety hazards.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that portable electric heaters may be involved in about 1,200 fires per year. The National Fire Protection Association notes that all types of space heaters accounted for 43 percent of home heating fires and 85 percent of home heating fire deaths. Almost half of home heating fires occur during December, January and February. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to safely improve the comfort of your home in winter while reducing heating costs.
Look for Common Sources of Heat Loss
Walk around the outside and inside of your home and look for sources of energy loss. On the outside, look for any places where heat may be escaping. Common sources include cracks around your window casing, foggy window panes, and air gaps around any pipes that run through the walls of your home. Replacing worn windows and caulking air gaps will ensure a tighter thermal envelope over your house.
On the inside of your house, look for gaps around doors and windows as well as cool air at electrical outlets. What may seem like small gaps can make a significant impact on the comfort of your home and heating costs. Replace worn door and window seals to block drafts from the outside. Consider adding foam insulation pads under your electrical outlet plates that block air leaks from behind your walls.
Maintain Your HVAC System
Follow a schedule for regular HVAC maintenance. An easy and inexpensive task is replacing the filter in your HVAC system per the manufacturer's instructions. Clean filters help reduce resistance to airflow so your HVAC system doesn't have to work harder. Regular dusting the filter louvers and vacuuming your home will also reduce the amount of particulates that can block them.
Schedule a Professional HVAC Inspection
While changing the HVAC filter is helpful, there isn't a substitute for a professional inspection. Service technicians have both the skill and equipment needed to ensure your HVAC system is operating at its best. Inspections twice a year help catch unseen problems that can lead to poor heat and more expensive repairs. Some of the common issues a pro will find and fix include:
- Leaks in your ductwork
- Failing blower motors, pilot lights and ignitions
- Worn electrical connections and faulty wiring
Consider Upgrades to Improve Your System
Even if your HVAC system is relatively new, certain upgrades can improve its performance and efficiency. Programmable thermostats will help ensure your heating system is only delivering heat when you're home, reducing unnecessary costs. New Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats will alert you and let you make adjustments via a smartphone app. Zone control uses individual temperature sensors in rooms that deliver heat where you need it.
Upgrade to a New Energy-Efficient Furnace
If your HVAC system is old, it may be time to consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient unit. Your central furnace efficiency is rated by its annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). The AFUE measures how efficient an appliance is in converting energy to heat over the course of a typical year. The higher the AFUE, the more efficient. So even if your furnace works, a modern system could mean significant savings.
A comfortably warm and energy-efficient house can reduce the misery of cold and damp days while lowering heating costs. Don't risk the safety of your loved ones by using portable heaters. Contact Air Excellence, Inc. at 804-885-3888 to learn how to safely reduce your heating costs.
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