• Category:
    Energy Efficiency
  • Published:
    November 5, 2020

How to Heat Your Home More Efficiently

It’s time to think about how to heat your home efficiently. Fall can sneak up on us fast. It seems one minute we’re sweltering through summer and the next we’re cranking up the heat. More efficient heating can make your home more comfortable through the winter while conserving energy. Here are some tips for how to make your home’s heating more efficient.

Heating Efficiency Tips for Your Home

You don’t have to shiver through the winter to help the environment. You’ll help to lower your heating costs, maintain a cozy home and cut carbon emissions by following these heating efficiency tips.

7 heating efficiency tips for your home

1. Schedule furnace/boiler maintenance once a year

A broken furnace or boiler can leave you without heat when you need it most. Even worse, malfunctioning heating systems can be dangerous. Dirty furnaces can spew mold and allergens into your living space. Carbon monoxide fumes can be a silent killer. And a gas leak can cause an explosion.

Then there are the costs. Worn-out parts and dirt in the system make it work harder to produce heat, and that wastes energy. Preventive maintenance helps keep your heating system running smoothly to heat your home efficiently. Yes, you’ll have to spend some money, but maintenance is cheaper than repair — and safer.

2. Install smart thermostats

A smart thermostat is technology you should explore if you’re wondering how to make your home’s heating more efficient. Many variations of this connected device can learn your preferences, habits and the patterns of heating your home. Some can automatically adjust the use of your heating system in response to changes in temperature that may be caused by things such as sunlight, and in response to your needs. For example, you might not need to blast the heat when you’re out of your home all day. Many smart systems can monitor the temperature 24/7 so you’re always heating your home efficiently.

3. Insulate and weatherize your home

Keeping the warmth in is a tried-and-true method for improving the heating efficiency of your home. Your furnace or boiler doesn’t have to work as hard if you’re not losing heat to the outdoors. There are several ways to improve your home’s ability to retain warmth:

  • Add insulation to your attic.
  • Consider blown-in insulation that fills gaps between your interior walls and the outside surfaces.
  • Install new multi-pane ENERGY STAR® windows, which can quickly pay for themselves in energy savings.
  • Hunt for drafts around doors and windows and seal them up.
  • Install plug protectors to prevent heat loss through unused electrical plugs.
  • Fill the gaps and cracks around where utilities like cable and water come into your home.

4. Bleed your radiators and install reflectors

Don’t wait until you’re stuck with a cold radiator on a frigid day. “Bleed” your radiators in advance of cold weather to ensure that they’re heating your home efficiently. Air can get trapped inside the coils of your radiator and impair its ability to emit heat. Fortunately, bleeding your radiator, or letting that air out, is an easy task:

  • Turn off the heat before you do anything.
  • On the side near the top of your radiator, you’ll find the bleed valve. It’s easy to turn if you have a radiator key (available at most hardware stores), but a pair of pliers can sometimes work.
  • Turn counterclockwise about half a turn, going slowly and listening for a hissing sound. That’s the air escaping as hot water takes its place.
  • When water starts to stream out instead of air, you’ve removed your air block. Close the bleed valve and wipe up any spilled water. Job done!

Beyond helping to improve your home heating efficiency, bleeding your radiators optimizes and lowers the cost of operating your forced-hot-water boiler. You’ll save energy and extend the life of your system.

You also may be able to improve your radiator’s efficiency by installing reflectors. Radiator reflectors are thin sheets or foil placed between the coils and the wall. The idea is to reflect heat back into the room rather than losing it. Reflectors may not be as effective on radiators attached to internal walls, or if you already have good insulation in your walls. But if your radiator is attached to an outside-facing wall with poor insulation, it might be worth it.

5. Change your air filter

If you’re wondering how to heat your home efficiently, start with the air filter. Old and dirty air filters block the flow of air, which makes your forced-air furnace work harder. Fortunately, this kind of do-it-yourself HVAC maintenance is simple. The easy way to ensure that your furnace is heating your home efficiently is to replace the filter regularly.

Alternatively, install a washable air filter to help reduce your ecological footprint. Remove it regularly and clean it with a vacuum cleaner. If you find serious grime, diluted dish soap will remove oily buildup. Usually, a rinse under running water is all you need to do.

6. Install a heat recovery ventilator

One of the more innovative central heating efficiency tips is to invest in a heat recovery ventilator. These systems capture heat from exhaust air and mix it with fresh intake air. They also remove mold-causing moisture, along with many contaminants and odors, in the process. Most homes exhaust some air through bathroom fans, kitchen oven hoods and appliances. Heat recovery ventilators capture up to 90% of the heat that would otherwise be lost to the outside.

7. Get a new energy-efficient heating system

On average, you can expect your furnace to last up to 15 years. The life expectancy of your unit will vary, depending on the quality and regularity of your maintenance. As your furnace approaches the 15-year mark, it may simply quit without warning.

It makes sense to start shopping ahead of any unexpected breakdown. Manufacturers are competing to provide you with quality and value in the form of improved home heating efficiency and lower cost of ownership. You may find that the heating efficiency of a new unit quickly pays for itself in energy savings. New units are easier to maintain and offer performance enhancements like sound absorption and additional insulation. And some forced-air systems are fitted with advanced air filtration systems to improve the quality of the air inside your home.

All in all, new heating systems are better both for your home and the environment as a whole.

Saving energy doesn’t require sacrificing comfort when you follow these heating efficiency tips. It takes a bit of effort, but it’s effort that can pay off in energy savings and a lower carbon footprint. And you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’re doing everything in your power to heat your home efficiently and help lower those winter energy bills.

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