How to Save Money Heating and Cooling Your Home
One of the biggest recurring expenses you’ll face as a homeowner is the cost of heating and/or cooling your home. For the most part, these expenses are unavoidable; depending on where you live, you may be practically forced to cool your home in summer, warm it in winter, or both. But running your furnace or air conditioner nonstop can leave you with exceptionally high electricity and/or natural gas bills.
Employing the right strategies to save on heating and cooling costs can help you save hundreds of dollars every year—and most of them are relatively simple to employ.
Efficiency and Maintenance
Your first step is to make sure your heating and cooling units are operating as efficiently as possible. The more efficiently and smoothly they operate, the less they’ll have to “work” to heat or cool your home, which means you’ll use fewer utilities. On top of that, efficient appliances tend to suffer less wear and tear, so you’ll use them less often.
You could start by buying a high-efficiency furnace and/or air conditioner. Engineers have made a number of advancements over the past few decades, such that modern appliances are able to exert even greater heating or cooling potential for fewer incoming resources. This may not be feasible for your budget, but it’s worth considering if your existing units are more than a decade old; upgrading is a cost that could end up paying for itself over time.
You can also improve your appliance efficiency by investing in ongoing cleaning and maintenance. Your furnace, air conditioner, ductwork, and related components will all suffer wear and tear and accumulate dirt and debris. If left unchecked, this can dramatically reduce your efficiency and cost you money.
There are a few easy steps you can take to mitigate these additional costs. For starters, make sure you replace the filters on these appliances at least once every three months. You’ll also want to purchase a tarp and drape it over your air conditioner’s outdoor components in winter to protect it from unnecessary damage.
Ideally, you’ll call a professional for a thorough “clean and check” once a year for your furnace as well as your air conditioner. During this process, the professional will partially disassemble your unit, clear out any dirt and debris that have accumulated, and will identify any problematic or missing components that can be correctedfor. It’s much better to proactively catch an issue and fix it than to let it grow worse and accumulate damage over time.
Insulation and Waste Avoidance
In addition to keeping your units operating as efficiently as possible, it’s important to change your environment to minimize wasted energy. Your home works as a box, containing whatever heat or cold air you’re generating for your comfort. If that ideal air is allowed to leak out to your surroundings, or if air from the outside is leaking in, you’ll end up spending much more on heating and cooling to compensate for it.
If your walls don’t have insulation or are poorly insulated, your first step should be properly insulating them. Blown insulation is cheap and easy to add to an existing wall, and it could dramatically improve your home’s energy efficiency. If you have windows that are more than a decade or two old, it may be prudent to replace them with newer, more energy-efficient models. It’s also wise to check for air leaks around all your doors and windows, and for any cracks that may have emerged in your walls. Many of these leaks can be quickly fixed with a bit of caulk.
Finally, you can take measures to control how you use your furnace and/or air conditioner on a regular basis. Obviously, the less you rely on these appliances to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, the less you’re going to pay. Accordingly, you can try to open the windows and rely on ceiling fans in the summer to keep your house feeling cool—that way, you can avoid turning the air conditioner on at all some days.
You can also install a smart thermostat so you can control when the temperature changes and how it changes in response to your daily routine. Ideally, you’ll set the temperature lower (in winter) or higher (in summer) when you’re away from the house, like during your working hours. That way, you won’t have your appliances running full-steam when no one’s around to appreciate them.
You don’t have to sacrifice your personal comfort to save money on your heating and cooling bills. A few adjustments to your home, better maintenance habits, and careful control over how and when you use your appliances can make a dramatic impact on your bottom-line costs.