We’re lucky…compared to our northern neighbors, Alabama winters are mild. We don’t have to deal with most of the inconveniences they experience. However, Birmingham isn’t exactly tropical. We still worry about heating our homes efficiently and safely. Here are some tips to help you get through our winters with your budget still intact.
Get a Furnace Inspection (if You Have One)
If you have a furnace, it is a good idea to get it checked annually. Remember, during the winter, your furnace runs daily, which puts a lot of wear on the system. Just like a car, your HVAC equipment needs regular maintenance. An annual check-up ensures that the furnace is running properly. A furnace running at peak performance is more efficient, which means lower energy bills.
An annual check-up also ensures that your gas furnace is running safely. We recently featured a story on our Facebook page about a woman who experienced severe health problems due to an improperly installed gas water heater. Carbon monoxide is no joke; a technician can catch potential leaks before they become a safety hazard.
Heat Pumps Need Love Too
Like furnaces, heat pumps benefit from annual winter inspections as well. While there is less of a safety risk with these systems, a yearly check ensures that all the moving parts of your heat pump are in good working order. Dirty coils or clogged filters cause heat pumps to work harder, which means more energy is used to keep your home warm. If you want to save on heating bills, a well-functioning heating system is the first place to start.
Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
While programmable thermostats are more expensive than traditional versions, they more than make up for the investment by increasing the efficiency of your HVAC system. With new technological developments, many programmable thermostats learn your schedule. That means your heat is optimized. Instead of causing (expensive) large temperature changes by manually turning the heater on and off, the thermostat keeps the temperature within a range of a few degrees. When you are home, your house is toasty warm. When you’re away, your heater takes a break but doesn’t shut off entirely.
Let the Light Shine In
While summer sunshine leads to almost unbearable heat, winter sunshine means energy savings. During the winter months, open those blinds and let the light in! The sun coming through your windows creates heat, which helps your home stay warm. It’s like giving your heating system an extra boost.
Trim Back Outdoor Plants
What do plants have to do with heating? Well, if you have a heat pump, overgrown plants can cause problems. Here in the south, some plants continue to grow all winter long. As vines, bushes, and grass slowly encroach on the outdoor portion of your heating system, clogs form. These clogs keep air from flowing through your system, which causes inefficiency. We know what inefficiency means…higher energy bills. So keep your landscaping trimmed back, even when it’s cold outside.
Don’t Forget Those Cardigans…
One of the easiest ways to save money on your heating bill is to add some layers. If you feel a chill in your house, why not reach for a sweater or cardigan before clicking that thermostat up a few degrees? Layers keep you warm and cozy without extra energy spent warming your whole house.