As the seasons change and the temperature outside begins to fall, you’ll be cranking up the heat more and more frequently. To ensure your home remains comfortable on the most uncomfortable days, it’s important to properly prepare your home to ensure it’s up to the task. As important as it is to maintain a comfortable home, though, it’s even more important to do so in an environmentally-conscious manner. To help you do just that, here are a few eco-friendly home warming suggestions.
Often, it’s not the heat that’s added to your home that’s inefficient, it’s the heat that’s unnecessarily lost. Due to thermodynamics, heat is always looking for a way to escape to the cooler air outside. It’s up to your home’s insulation to keep it inside where it belongs. This means you’ll want to improve insulation in your attic as well as filling in gaps around doors and windows throughout your home. Window covers and thick curtains can also help to keep the heat indoors where it belongs, by adding an extra layer of insulation. But remember that the sun is a free source of heat! Try to open your windows when the sun is shining in, and close them when it’s not. It may help to set a timer or reminder on your phone. Outlets on exterior walls can also be sneaky heat-stealers, so insulate them, along with your roof and the floors above cold spaces like your garage. At least 25 percent of your home’s heat is lost through the roof, so this is probably the most important part of your home to insulate. While insulating your house, also check for dampness and condensation problems, as these can molder in heat and reduce the efficiency of your furnace.
And don’t forget the most important part of your home to insulate—yourself! Get out those winter sweaters and layer up! The more effort you and your family puts into keeping yourselves bundled up and warm, the less heated you’ll need your house overall to be.
Install a New Furnace
Given the complexity of your furnace, there are many components that can wear down over time. As these components age, they become less efficient, resulting in increased pollution from the operation of your furnace. At some point, then, it becomes more economical and environmentally friendly to opt for professional heating installation and get a new furnace that will be more efficient and environmentally-friendly. Some eco-friendly furnaces include pellet stoves, which use renewable fuel and have low emissions. Another eco-friendly option is a space heater. They are much smaller and can be used to heat a single room or area, without turning up the heat throughout the house. It’s also wise to install a smart thermostat, so you can more easily control the heating throughout your house. Installing a new furnace may seem costly, but it will pay for itself over time with the money you save on inefficient heating and gas.
Close Vents and Doors
If you have central heating, one of the most wasteful aspects of your furnace is the fact that it is always heating your entire home, even when your entire home isn’t occupied. To help your furnace operate more efficiently, you can close the vents and doors in rooms that are not in use. In this way, a higher volume of heated air will be moved to the rooms that are in use, allowing them to become warm more quickly so your furnace runs less. Another source of lost heat can, ironically, be your chimney if you have one. Though a crackling fire warms your house, the chimney can also act as a natural funnel that sucks heat out of your house. The solution? Close the damper. The fireplace damper should be closed any time you’re not making a fire, and you should make sure your damper is well-fitted to your chimney. Also, make sure your family knows to keep doors and windows to the outside closed, so less heated air escapes. Check pet doors and small openings as well, and keep doors throughout the house closed so that an open window in one room won’t suck out heated air from the whole house.
Have Your Furnace Serviced
Even if your furnace seems to be operating properly, it may not be operating at its peak efficiency. An unbalanced blower fan or a clogged burner can cause your furnace to use more energy than necessary and lead to premature wear and tear. To help prevent these circumstances, it’s vital that you have your furnace serviced prior to the arrival of the cool seasons. A thorough furnace service will clean all your burners, tighten your connections, and lubricate all moving parts. While you’re at it, check your air filters as well. A clogged air filter can block heat flow, causing your furnace to expend energy. Servicing your furnace will ensure it is ready to go at the first sign of cold weather without wasting energy.
One of the best parts of the cool seasons is the many holidays that take place during this time. This gives you plenty of excuses to invite friends and family into your home. One of the many benefits of having so many people in your home is that it helps to heat your house naturally, meaning you’ll be able to run your furnace less often. Though this isn’t a permanent solution, of course, it’s good to know that while you’re enjoying fellowship with those you care for, you’re helping to protect the environment, as well.
And of course, remember to turn down the dial! As you follow these eco-friendly tips, you’ll find that you won’t need the thermostat to be as high to keep your house warm. Keeping the heat down will also reduce the shock of moving from the cold outdoors to the heated indoors, or vice versa. Remember that these eco-friendly house warming tips will build on each other, so the more you implement these strategies, the lower your heating bill, and environmental impact, will go.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan