The record heat continues in Birmingham, and NOAA recently released a statement that the Southern U.S. can expect to have a particularly mild winter this year! While we may be stuck (or blessed, depending on your viewpoint) with warm weather for now, at some point the heat will likely have to come on. Below are some of the more common myths we hear while out on service calls. Let’s bust these myths!
Closing vents in unused rooms will save money.
This is a common statement we hear from clients, and sadly, it’s just not true. Closing vents and doors in unused rooms actually interrupts the airflow within your home. Your HVAC system was designed and installed with your whole house in mind and by cutting off airflow you are essentially keeping your system from working efficiently. So keep those vents and doors open for maximum savings on your heating bills.
Setting your thermostat to a higher temperature will heat your home more quickly.
Nope. It will still take the same amount of time for your heater to warm the house to your preferred temperature whether you set the thermostat to that temperature or five degrees higher. All a higher temperature setting will accomplish is less efficient heating, especially if you forget to drop the temperature down to your preferred setting.
An energy-efficient heat pump or furnace will automatically save money.
Not quite. It is true that products made to be as energy-efficient as possible have the potential to save you money, but only if you use them the way they were intended to be used. It doesn’t matter how energy-efficient an HVAC system is – if you constantly change the temperature settings from high to low temperatures or don’t provide proper maintenance and care, it won’t save you money in the long run. However, if you are committed to using the system properly, you will likely see some savings.
If my home is properly insulated, I don’t have to worry about leaks in winter.
Proper insulation sets the foundation for keeping your home at a comfortable temperature, but drafts can always cause problems. The most common draft sources are doors and windows, but we have seen drafts in basements and even electrical outlets. Too many little drafts can definitely have an effect on how well your HVAC system maintains a comfortable temperature in your home, so don’t overlook these areas when doing routine household maintenance.
Replacing all of your windows will save you a lot of money on heating costs.
This statement is a little tricky, because it’s sort of true – energy efficient windows can save you money on both heating and cooling costs. The key here is to do some research. The cost of replacing all of the windows in your home can be thousands of dollars, and often the energy savings you see on your electric bill won’t match the investment.
Unless the windows in your home are awful, it may very well be more cost efficient to address drafts with less invasive maintenance, like caulking.
A fireplace is a great way to help heat your home.
Sadly, a traditional wood-burning fireplace is not a great way to heat your home. A surprising amount of heat can actually escape from you home via the chimney when the fireplace isn’t in use. When in use, wood-burning fireplaces are really great for heating a single room, and even then you have to consider the safety hazards involved, including carbon monoxide and reduced air quality due to wood ash.
We love fireplaces for their cozy ambiance, but homeowners should consider all of the pros and cons before having one installed in their home.
Keeping your home temperature constant is the most efficient way to heat your home.
This is another myth that is a little tricky. There is nothing wrong with dropping the temperature of your home during hours when you are away, or at night when you are sleeping. The key is to not drop the temperature too much. Ideally, dropping the temperature by 2-3°F is the best solution – any more than that and your HVAC system will have to burn energy trying to get your home warm again. So a constant temperature isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to heat a home, but neither are wide temperature changes during the course of a day.
Space heaters are energy hogs and aren’t worth the investment.
It’s true that space heaters consume more energy than we would like, but they are actually a great choice for spaces that have poor insulation, for single rooms that aren’t often used, or for renters who may not have a lot of say in maintenance issues. Space heaters have come a long way in terms of design and safety – if you are going to purchase one, make sure it is made by a reputable company and has safety features such as an automatic shut off if the unit is knocked over.
Ceiling fans are only useful when it’s hot outside.
If you adjust the direction in which your ceiling fans spin for winter (clockwise rotation) they can be a great tool for helping to disperse heated air throughout your home. Warm air tends to rise – when a ceiling fan is set to spin clockwise, it draws air down from the ceiling and spreads it throughout the room, preventing the warm air from staying too high for the comfort of household members.
Have a heating question? Give us a call at (205) 871–8111 to get some answers!