Five ways to cut your heating cost in Virginia
As much as I love Northern Virginia's autumn daunting fact is winter is right around the corner. Whether we get a mild or a bad winter it never hurts to be prepared for stormy days.
If you're thinking it's time to do something about your cold house and
your high heating bills, here are five win-win suggestions that will
help you do both.
1. REPLACE YOUR FURNACE FILTER
clogged filter makes your furnace work harder to deliver the same
amount of heat, which wastes energy by keeping the furnace on for a
longer period in order to bring the house up to the requested
If you have a central heating system (used for heat
only), replace the filter once a year, at the start of the heating
season. If you have a heat pump or a furnace with central air
conditioning, replace it twice a year, at the start of the heating
season and at the start of the cooling season. While replacing the
filter, always use a shop vacuum to clean up as much dust and debris
within the filter cavity as you can reach.
2. INSTALL A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
thermostats work a whole lot better than your memory. They give you the
ability to have a lot more control over your heating and cooling
systems, and they will add both convenience and energy savings by
raising and lowering the heat at preset times so you don't have to
remember to do it.
A programmable thermostat will bring the
system on and shut it off based not only on temperature, but on time as
well. For example, the thermostat can be programmed to turn on the heat
to a certain level at 6 a.m. when you get up, and turn it down again at
8 a.m. when you leave for work. It also can be set for different cycles
on different days of the week, and can be overridden with the touch of
a single button to temporarily raise or lower the heat.
3. INSULATE DUCTWORK
the ducts are running through an unheated space, whether in your attic,
crawlspace, basement, or garage, duct insulation is a huge part of the
system's ability to retain heated air within the ducts until it gets
delivered into the house. All of the ducts in unheated spaces should be
completely wrapped without any gaps, and the insulation should be of
sufficient thickness to provide good insulating value -- typically
around R-8, which is approximately 2 1/2 inches of fiberglass.
4. CLEAN WALL AND BASEBOARD HEATERS
with a central furnace, it's very important that wall heaters and
baseboard heaters be cleaned at the start of every heating season.
Before cleaning, however, first try to minimize the potential for dust
buildup in the heaters. This might be done by rearranging furniture,
increasing fresh air in the room, or increasing air flow in front of
To clean baseboard heaters, first shut off the
circuit breaker that supplies power to the heater. To be certain you
have the correct breaker, turn the thermostat up to high for 30 seconds
or so and make sure that the heater does not come on. Remove the front
cover and use a vacuum to clean out the inside of the heater, being
careful not to damage the aluminum fins inside the heater. If you
notice that the fins are bent, you can use a fin comb, available
through many heating contractors and other retailers of heating
equipment, to straighten them out again.
For wall heaters, shut
off the circuit breaker for the heater, and verify that it's off as
described above. Remove the screws that hold the grill in place, and
remove the grill. Wash the grill in hot soapy water, dry it, and set it
aside. You can then clean the inside of the heater using a vacuum,
taking care not to touch the heating elements, or you can blow out dust
using the blower side of your shop vacuum.
Note: Be sure to
refer to the instruction book that came with the heater, or check with
the manufacturer's Web site for specific cleaning instructions and
5. COVER AND WEATHERSTRIP ROOM AIR CONDITIONERS
you have a room air conditioner that sits in a window or mounts into an
opening in the exterior wall, they have the potential to leak a lot of
air. If the air conditioner is in a window and is easy to remove, your
best bet is to remove it, clean it, and then store it for next summer.
it's not easily removed, then examine the unit carefully to see if
there is any daylight coming in around it. You can use foam tape,
expandable spray foam, or other weatherstripping materials to close up
the gaps around the case. Finally, buy or build a cover that will slip
over the unit from the outside and prevent cold air from coming through
it and into the house.
Realtor, EcoBroker, ABR,ePRO
at Samson Properties
Cell: 703-625-4949 or
are interested in purchasing or selling a property in Northern Virginia
Arlington County, Alexandria City, Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Falls Church
City & Prince William county.