With energy prices painfully high and overall inflation rates draining cash from our pockets every day, most New Jerseyans are trying to save money whenever and wherever they can. With that in mind, why not examine proven ways you can cut down on air conditioning expenses right now–and then create a plan to conserve on your heating costs next winter?
There are actually many small yet important energy conservation methods that can add up to impressive savings over time. Here is a closer look at some of the steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Regular maintenance is a vital money-saving investment for heating systems– not just because it can keep your equipment running safely and at peak efficiency, but also because four out of five heating system breakdowns are preventable if you follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. A tune-up allows your heating oil technician to fix minor issues before they become big problems (worn parts, etc.). Regular tune-ups can also help you conserve on heating fuel over the winter.
If you have a forced-air system (one with vents rather than radiators or baseboards), the most important self-maintenance task you have is to check your air filters regularly, cleaning or changing them when needed. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Clogged filters rob your furnace of efficiency by making it overwork to keep you warm; that means higher heating bills and more wear and tear on your equipment. Note: the same principle about air filters applies if you have a central air conditioning system in your home.
If you have an older steam boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause of boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be flushed when the water in the gauge looks rusty. If you have a modern hot water boiler, the boiler’s automatic filling system should maintain the proper water level.
When used correctly, a smart programmable thermostat will pay for itself in just a short time. If you choose a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature from your smartphone. In the winter, the optimal setting is 68°F when you’re at home. Dial it down toward the 60°F range when you’re asleep or out of the house. Don’t go too low or you’ll risk frozen pipes. The temperatures you ultimately choose will depend on factors like the outdoor temperature and your family’s comfort preferences. Remember, these are just guidelines.
This is also a good time to caulk any air leaks around exterior doors and windows. While you’re at it, replace door weatherstripping that might have worn away.
In terms of insulation, most homes are under-insulated. Adding enough insulation to meet recommended R-values is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s overall efficiency and comfort. Read the Energy Department’s Guide to Home Insulation.
During the cold months, keep curtains and shades open in sun-exposed rooms to absorb all that free heat and energy during the day, then close them at night to keep the heat in at night. Do the reverse in the summer by closing curtains and shades during the day to block solar heat. Smart window treatments can help manage solar energy throughout the year.
An open fireplace damper is like an open window; close it when you are not using your wood-burning hearth. You should also move any furniture, drapery or rugs away from air vents, baseboards or radiators. This helps improve airflow and keeps heat circulating into rooms.
To learn about how you can make a big impact on your home’s energy efficiency through upgrades to systems like high-efficiency heating oil boilers and heating oil furnaces, please go here.