The Big List of Tips to Lower Your Heat Bill

In winter, the sound of the furnace working can sound a lot like money falling out of your pocket.  Feel confident your heating system is working efficiently with these tips on preserving heat and spending less on your utilities bill.

HEATING AND VENTILATION

  1. Upgrade your thermostat

Upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat that automatically lowers the temperature at night or when you’re away from home. And if you’ve heard it takes more energy to heat the house back up than you save by keeping the heat down – that’s a myth. You will save energy and money.

image of sun coming through window in wintertime

Courtesy of Flickr

2. Use the sun to your advantage

Harness natural solar energy by keeping the curtains open during the day, particularly in south facing rooms. But make sure to close them at night to reduce heat loss through windows.

3. Minimize use of kitchen and bathroom fans

While they suck out odours and moisture from rooms, they also suck out that expensive heated air! Run them briefly when you need them, and then shut them off.

4. Seal any leaks in ductwork

Your ductwork distributes conditioned air throughout the house the way a bloodstream delivers blood to every party of the body. But according to an Energy Star efficiency report, in a typical home about 20-30% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. Signs of underperforming ducts are high utility bills and rooms that are consistently hard to keep cool or warm, depending on the season.

image of installed Lennox furnace

Lennox Elite Furnace with Healthy Climate Air Cleaner. Courtesy of Flickr

If you are going to repair duct leaks, make sure to use mastic sealant or metal tape. Do not use duct tape, as it is not a long-lasting solution. Hy-Mark can also help you with any duct improvements or replacements.

5. Get a preventative maintenance on your furnace

This might be the most important item on this list. A professional furnace maintenance visit will ensure your home’s heat source is running at full capacity without wasting energy. The technician will ensure the furnace’s proper mechanical operation, and clean the inside of debris. She will also change the filter and balance the airflow. Hy-Mark provides a full maintenance for only $125.00.

 

WINDOWS AND DOORS

6. Install storm windows

If you don’t already have double or triple pane windows, you can install storm window panes to reduce heat loss. These go on in the fall and come off in the springtime, and can make a huge difference.

7. Replace worn weather stripping

image of weatherstripping installed on door threshold

Weatherstripping installed on door threshold. Courtesy: todayshomeowner.com

Over time weather stripping around doors and windows cracks and splits, allowing drafts to enter to your home. How often you’ll have to replace it depends on what kind is already installed. If you have a newer home your weather stripping will last a long time, but older homes may have been retrofitted with adhesive backed or caulk stripping, which can wear out in as little as one year. Here is a good guide to different types of weather stripping and how to replace them yourself.

 

8. Adjust door thresholds

If you can see daylight peeking under your door that means your heat is escaping through that space. Over time these strips become worn or pushed lower into the floor, so simply loosening the screws holding it in place can raise it up to close that gap a bit. Check to make sure the door sweep is also in good condition. One way to check for drafts is to hold a candle flame near any cracks – if it moves or blows out you know there’s a draft.

9. Cover windows and patio doors with film insulation

Yes, more about windows. They only take up 5-10% of our home but are where up to 30% of heat is lost, so are well worth paying lots of attention to when it comes to conserving heat.

Any glass panes in doors and windows can be covered in clear plastic film insulation, available at any home centre for under $5 per door sized panel. You apply it on the inside of the panes, so it’s easy to use on any storey of your home.  Just by using plastic liners you will save around 10% on your heating bill.

10. Lock your doors and windows to get the tightest seals

Ever noticed the feeling of a window pressing more tightly into the frame when you lock it? That seal remains once it is locked and will make a difference in how much heat is lost around the edges. The same goes with outside facing doors.      

 

FIREPLACE

image of open chimney damper

Open chimney damper Courtesy: mychimney.com

11. If you have a wood burning fireplace, close the flue damper in your chimney

Most fireplace owners know this tip – the hard part is just remembering to do it. The flue must be opened any time a fire is burning, so make sure you wait until it is completely burned out before shutting it. Remembering this step after a fire will help greatly in preventing your heat siphoning up your chimney when the fireplace is not in use.

Gas fireplace owners, this tip doesn’t apply to you. Gas fireplace flues are locked in the open position to prevent the possibility of being run without proper ventilation. The amount of carbon monoxide given off by gas fireplaces is too high to run the risk that a homeowner might forget to open the damper before running the fire. As well, many gas fireplaces have constantly burning pilot lights, and those emissions need to always be vented outside safely.

However, gas fireplace pilot lights can be turned off in warm months to save on energy costs, and turned back again in the fall. Check the inside of your fireplace’s panel or the instruction manual for directions on how to do this.

12. Get a fireplace maintenance visit

While there are things you can do yourself to care for your fireplace, a pro can determine if it’s working safely and most efficiently. Hy-Mark offers a fireplace maintenance service for $125.00.

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