11 Tips to Green your Heater for Winter
Heating is a major home utility expense. Many options exist to either green your current heater or to replace it with a more efficient model. By choosing the most appropriate type of heater and making sure your heater is in top working condition, you can lower your heating expenses.
✔ Consider buying a wood stove – A wood stove can provide an inexpensive and sustainable form of heat for your home. Heating with wood that is harvested in a sustainable manner is considered carbon neutral.
✔ Give your heater a checkup – At the beginning of each heating season, it is a good idea to get your heater inspected by a qualified technician. Many local utilities and furnace manufacturers offer free or discounted rates for furnace inspections. They will not only keep your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted, but they will also be able to advise when it is time for an upgrade.
✔ Make sure your home is properly insulated and sealed for air leaks – Before considering replacing your current home heating system, make sure your home is well insulated and sealed for air leaks. Once your home is properly insulated and all leaks have been filled, your current system may run more efficiently, eliminating the need to replace it.
✔ Consider upgrading your furnace to a more energy- efficient model – The lifespan of heating systems can be considerable, in some cases lasting up to 50 years. We would suggest having a qualified technician inspect your system at the beginning of each season. They will be able to advise you whether it is time to upgrade. If it is time, consider getting an EnergyStar certified furnace. An EnergyStar certified furnace can save your 15% to 20% versus a new standard model. You could save up to 50% or more compared to many older furnaces that are still in operation.
✔ Properly maintain your heating system – A system that is not maintained properly can be much less efficient and cost significantly more to operate. Proper maintenance includes: cleaning and replacing air filters; keeping the interior of the furnace free of dust and spider webs; keeping registers and radiators unblocked; bleeding trapped air from radiators, and draining sediment from steam boilers. Additionally, make sure that the shot or ribbon burners in your furnace are in good condition.
✔ Choose the right fuel for your heating system – Several different heating fuels are available. These include natural gas, propane, heating oil, wood, electricity, and electricity from renewable sources. As a rule, avoid propane natural gas or heating oil.
✔ Consider passive solar – Whether you’re building a new house, or remodeling your current house, a passive solar design should be first on your list of energy-saving strategies. The basic idea behind passive solar is that heat moves from warmer to cooler materials until they’re both the same temperature.
✔ Do not heat unoccupied areas of your home – By lowering the thermostat settings for those areas, closing heating vents, and keeping doors closed, you could both lower the heating load and the heating costs for your home.
✔ Install a programmable thermostat – The EPA estimates that EnergyStar-labeled programmable thermostats can save consumers 10-15% on heating and cooling bills when used properly.
✔ Change your filters – It is important to replace or clean your furnace filter once a month while your heater is in operation. Dirty filters will restrict air flow and cause your heater to run less efficiently. A convenient way to remember to do this is to designate the first of the month as the day to change filters.
✔ Upgrade your filters – There are different types of furnace filter available on the market, beside the disposable fiberglass filters most people use. While these filters can cost more, they can also deliver significant benefits.
- Electrostatic Filters – Electrostatic filters can trap around 88% of debris, much higher than standard fiberglass filters (which capture between 10 and 40% of debris).
- HEPA Filters – HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of the debris.