Now is an ideal time to make some home improvements, especially in terms of raising your home’s energy efficiency levels.
Besides partnering with your home heating oil company to replace low-efficiency heating equipment and schedule heating system maintenance before the fall, do your own self-audit to find areas where you can make improvements. Here are some suggestions:
Caulk any air leaks around exterior doors and windows. While you’re at it, replace door weatherstripping that might have worn away.
Also, consider hiring an expert to evaluate the insulation levels in your home. Most homes are under-insulated, especially in the attic. Adding enough insulation to meet recommended R-values is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s overall efficiency and comfort. Read the Energy Department’s Guide to Home Insulation.
Using ceiling fans will help you feel cooler in the summer even with your thermostat set at a higher temperature. You can also use them during the winter to push down warm air trapped near the ceiling, which means you can use less heating oil and still stay warm.
You can reduce your hot water use by as much as 50% without affecting shower pressure. Make sure you also scrub away mineral deposits on your showerhead from time to time to prevent clogs.
Studies show that about nine out of ten people say they’ve rarely or never programmed their thermostats because they’re not sure how to do it. That’s a shame, considering that managing the temperature of your home is one of the easiest ways to save energy and lower both heating and cooling expenses. (Tip: Spend a little time watching “how-to” videos online).
Once you’re more comfortable programming your thermostat, follow this advice. In the spring and summer, the U.S. Energy Department recommends setting your central air conditioning system to 78°F when you’re at home. Program your A/C system to shut off 20-30 minutes before you leave home each day; return the temperature setting to normal comfort levels 20 to 30 minutes before you come home.
In the winter, the optimal setting is 68°F when you’re at home. Dial it down toward the 60°F range when you’re asleep or out of the house. The temperatures you ultimately choose will depend on factors like the outdoor temperature and your family’s comfort preferences. Remember, these are just guidelines.
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, getting one is a smart move. When used correctly, it will pay for itself in just a short time. If you choose a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature from your smartphone.
If you have a forced-air system (one with vents rather than radiators or baseboards), the most important self-maintenance task you have is to check your air filters regularly, cleaning or changing them when needed. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Clogged filters rob your furnace of efficiency by making it overwork to keep you warm; that means higher heating bills and more wear and tear on your equipment. Note: the same principle about air filters applies if you have a central air conditioning system in your home.
If you have an older steam boiler, check the water gauge periodically. Low water levels are a leading cause for boiler shutdowns. Steam boilers should also be “flushed” when the water in the gauge looks rusty. If you have a modern hot water boiler, the boiler’s automatic filling system should maintain the proper water level.
To learn about how you can positively impact your home’s energy efficiency through upgrades to systems like high-efficiency heating oil boilers and heating oil furnaces, please go here.