ways to cut down heating costs
If your furnace is operating at peak efficiency, it will use less energy
and cost less to operate. You should have a heating contractor perform
a yearly maintenance check on your furnace, venting, and cooling system
to ensure that they are operating at peak efficiency. In between those
visits, there are some simple do-it-yourself tasks to help keep your system
- Change or clean
your filter frequently (i.e. every one to two months) during the heating
and air conditioning seasons. A dirty air filter reduces the air flow
to the operating equipment and forces it to run longer to heat and cool
the house. Electronic air cleaner filters should also be cleaned regularly
(every one to two months).
- Keep return air
grills, hot air registers, radiators, and space heaters/baseboards clear
of furniture, rugs, and drapes to allow free movement of air.
- You can ensure
more heated or cooled air reaches its destination by sealing the accessible
furnace duct seams with duct tape.
- Insulate all ducts
in unheated or cooler spaces with commercial duct insulation -- or make
your own! Simply wrap the ducts with glass fibre batts, secure lightly
with string, cover insulation with oplastic, and tap all edges.
Have a service
Check and inspect your heating system components including:
· Test for carbon monoxide
· Bearings, belts
· Furnace controls
· Pilot safety system
· Visible gas piping
· Air filter
· Heat rise
· Flame pattern
· Electronic air cleaner
Note: Your service representative will clean the furnace components as
necessary for proper operation.
A standard woodburning fireplace may be romantic, but it is not very energy
efficient! In fact, it removes more heated air up the chimney than it
One of the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of a woodburning
fireplace is to replace it with a natural gas fireplace. Natural gas fireplaces
are very energy efficient, convenient to operate -- and romantic!
When replacing your woodburning fireplace isn't an option, here are
some tips to minimize your heat loss:
- Provide outside
air for combustion. It may be as simple as opening a window in the room
or installing a fresh air vent for the fireplace. Contact your local
fireplace specialty store for further advice and options.
- Install tight-fitting
glass doors and keep them closed when the fireplace is not in use to
prevent the home's warm air from escaping up the chimney.
- Close the damper
once the fire has completely died out to prevent warm air in the house
from escaping up the chimney.
- Seal off an unused
fireplace with a home-made insulated plug. Simply cut a piece of polystyrene
to fit snugly in the front opening and decorate the plug with either
wallpaper or paint.
Though it has a relatively low heat loss, 10 to 15%, the attic is the
first place to consider adding more insulation. It is generally the easiest
and least expensive area to insulate. It is especially important to add
more insulation if there is less than 10 inches (approximately R-30).
Since an unfinished basement has a high heat loss, 20 to 25%, adding exterior
or interior insulation is a major opportunity to improve your home's thermal
efficiency. Basement insulation is most cost-effective when done in conjunction
with finishing the basement as living space, or when digging up the exterior
to repair foundation wall drainage. While renovating, if you enclose a
natural gas or oil furnace and a natrual gas water heater, you must allow
for combustion air supply to the equipment. The air supply may be from
outside, or in some cases, from inside your house. a trained heating/ventilation
contractor can help you determine the combustion air requirements for
your natural gas equipment.
The Windows and Doors
Windows and doors represent about 15 to 20% of your home's heat loss.
Remember, this is the heat loss through the glass, wood, and framing materials;
not heat loss from air leakage. Depending on the age, operation, and design
of your windows and doors, you may want to consider replacing them. Windows
and doors should be replaced if they do not operate easily, are in poor
condition, or are difficult to weatherstrip.
Adding insulation to walls is worthwhile if done in coordination with
renovating the interior walls or residing - this can reduce heat loss
by 10 to 20%.
Heating, Appliances and Air
hot water use
After space heating, your water heater is the second largest user of energy
in your home. It pays to use hot water wisely! Here are some simple tips
on how to use hot water more efficiently without affecting comfort, cleanliness,
- Insulate, at least
the first 2 metres (6 feet) of the hot water pipe and the first metre
(3 feet) of the cold water pipe running from the tank, to save approximately
2% on your natural gas bill and reduce pipe 'sweating' problems in the
summer. For safety reasons, do not place any pipe wrap insulation within
15 cm (6 inches) of the exhaust vent at the top of the water heater.
The two basic types of pipe insulation are wrap-around or slip-on, pre-formed
foam. Both are easy to install and are available at building supply
- Operating your
water heater at unecessarily high temperatures increases energy consumption
and shortens tank life. It also increases the likelihood of scalds;
this is of particular concern for young children and seniors. In fact,
building codes suggest that the supply of domestic hot water be no more
than 60° C (140° F]. You can test your water temperature with
a cooking thermometer held under a running tap. While dishwashers may
require 60° C (140° F) water, for general household use you
should set your water heater to 54° C (130° F).
- Install a low-flow
showerhead (less than 11 litres/minute or 2.5 gallons/minute.) which
can reduce the amount of water you use for showers by up to 50%. You'll
use less water and energy and still enjoy hot, skin-tingling showers!
- Fix dripping taps
immediately. Replacing a worn washer (just pennies in cost) can save
you up to 800 litres (175 gallons) monthly, at one drop of water per
- One-quarter of
your hot water use is for laundry. You can reduce that by washing clothes
in warm or cold water and always rinsing in cold. Use the water level
controls, if your washing machine has them.
Making the most
of air conditioning
To provide comfortable conditions during hot, humid weather you must not
only cool your home, but also reduce the humidity levels.
If you operate them properly, central air conditioning systems will cool
and dehumidify the whole house, and room air conditioners will cool and
dehumidify individual rooms.
Room air conditioners
these tips when you're shopping for and operating room air conditioners:
- When buying, you'll
need information; exact room dimensions and room details (i.e., is the
room closed off or are there open passages to other rooms); size and
type of windows and room location. Does it get morning or afternoon
sun? Is there outside shading! What power supply is available in the
- Like appliances,
room air conditioners are also rated for their efficiency. The Energy
Efficiency Ratio (EER) is on an EnerGuide Label and is normally stamped
on the nameplate affixed to the outer casing of the unit. The higher
the EER, the less electricity the unit uses to do the same job. (Note:
room air conditioner EnerGuide Labels work in the reverse to white goods
EnerGuide Labels discussed previously.) Although there may be a higher
price tag for a more efficient unit, the energy savings over the life
of the unit should more than offset the difference in purchase price.
- An air conditioner's
abilily to cool is rated in British Thermal Units (Btu/hr) and/or tons.
About 18 Btu/hr are required to cool and dehumidify one square foot
of floor space in the average house or apartment. For example, a 20'
x 25' (500 sq. ft.) room would require approximately a 9,000 Btu/hr
- If the unit is
too large, it may lower the room temperature quicker, but it will not
be on long enough to remove excess humidity. Cool, humid air is not
- Operate room air
conditioners on timers. They only require about 30 minutes to cool and
dehumidify a room, so there is no need to leave them on if there's no
one home during the day.
- If possible, remove
window air conditioners for the winter. If they must stay in place,
seal around them with caulking or tape and cover the unit with a bought
or homemade airtight, insulated jacket.
your energy dollar is spent Based
on an average of the 3 main fuels over a year.
Heating & Cooling 60%