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Energy Efficient Alternatives for Heating

I enjoy having low heating bills during the winters in Texas. Contrary to stereotypes, it can dip below freezing and cause havoc. We have had freezing rain, ice and snow cover the city. Rather than paying huge heating bills every year, I made some changes and enjoy an average of $40 a month heating costs in a four-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-car garage house. I’d like to share my secrets with you.

First, Have An Energy Audit Performed

While an energy audit is not part of making changes to a house, it is the essential first step to saving money. Energy audits are often offered free of charge by DIY stores that partner with public utility providers, HVAC companies and others. If you have to pay a charge for one, it is well worth the money.

The technician will ask questions about your energy use and evaluate your HVAC system, appliances, the insulation in the house and more. He or she will advise you about your current energy use and how you can save energy on heating costs and all year long.

Energy Efficient Alternatives To Fireplaces

Fireplaces are notoriously energy inefficient. Most of the heat produced by a fire will escape through the chimney. Even with the flue closed, energy bills are high due to drafts. Fireplaces must be cleaned and inspected each year for optimum safety. Repairing or replacing an old fireplace can be expensive; here are alternatives that heat the room without breaking the bank. Be sure to properly block and insulate the flue to prevent air infiltration and drafts.

  • · Electric fireplace heaters can fit inside the fireplace or anywhere in the house. Paired with a separate programmable thermostat, your room will be warm and your bills won’t be high.
  • · A gas fireplace insert can be installed by a licensed technician to provide safe, efficient heat. It is far cheaper than having an old fireplace rebuilt.
  • · If you are adding a fireplace, consider a masonry stove. You’ll have heat throughout the night and burn very little firewood. Some models have pizza ovens built so that you can have a fantastic meal while you are heating the room or house.

Install Home Automation

Home automation isn’t science fiction; it’s science fact. Your home’s security system, doors, windows, window curtains, kitchen appliances and more are wired into a control panel that you program.

During the winter, the curtains will open to allow the sun to heat the house; the HVAC system runs less, thereby saving energy. During the night, the curtains will close automatically. The control panel will monitor the HVAC system and keep the house at the temperature you set.

There are many other advantages of having a home automation system in your home; sales representatives can provide you with information.

Programmable Thermostat

If your home still has a mercury switch thermometer, remove it and install a digital programmable thermostat instead. The unit will pay for itself, usually within the first three months. Many models have settings that allow you to control the temperature throughout the day and night. For example, you can program the thermostat to lower the temperature at night while you sleep, raise it to a comfortable level when you wake up and lower it while you are at work, finally raising it before you get home. No more cold feet in the morning or waiting for the house to warm up.

Zoning In Your HVAC System

Zoning works with your existing system. Motorized dampers are installed in the ductwork, which are connected to thermostats mounted in each room. The thermostat opens or closes the dampers to maintain a comfortable temperature. Savings up to 30 percent or more are reported with these systems.

For those rooms that “roast” when the heating system is turned on, they will be comfortable. For rooms that remain cold, the extra heated air travels through the ducts where it enters the room through the open dampers and heats up better. Everyone is comfortable and the utility bill is lower. For rooms not in use, the dampers can be closed completely.

Zoning can also be used with a home automation system.

Install Energy Efficient Windows Or Storm Windows

Double paned, insulated windows keep the heat in and winter’s cold outside. Since many older homes have windows that may require custom sizes, which can be expensive, insulated storm windows may be a less expensive option.

For the handy person, building your own custom storm windows using Plexiglas can also save money on the utility bill. These windows can be used all year long for energy efficiency.

These changes can save money for homeowners and property owners alike. Renters that spend less money on utility bills have more disposable income. Energy efficient properties are in high demand among renters.

Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.

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