When we come home at this time of year, we expect to warm up quickly, especially for anyone who uses home heating oil. And why not? Heating oil is renowned for warming homes evenly and efficiently.
But when outdoor temperatures take a dive into the single-digits and the wind chill gets to be well below zero, some people get worried that they will start burning too much fuel. This becomes more stressful during periods when energy prices are trending upward. And that’s when Massachusetts homeowners will try extra hard to save a little money on heat.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to save money on heating your home, you need to do it in a smart way and never take chances with your safety. Here are three common home heating mistakes we’ve seen over the years.
It’s never a good idea to shut off your heating oil furnace or heating oil boiler (or turn their thermostat way down) and use electric space heaters to try to save on heating oil. You may conserve a fraction of fuel, but you’ll run up your electric bill in the process. If your home gets too cold, you’re at risk of experiencing frozen pipes.
Besides the expense, portable space heaters also pose safety risks. Here are tips for using them safely.
If you have a warm-air furnace, an air register is where the heat is released into your home. The air flow of a register can be changed by adjusting its damper.
Unfortunately, a common mistake is completely closing off the air registers in seldom-used rooms. The belief is that this will conserve heat and save money by not sending heat to all rooms in the home, but this is not recommended.
Closing some registers disrupts normal air flow, causing an imbalance that will just make your furnace work harder. Closing registers can also raise the risk of frozen pipes, especially in rooms that tend to be on the cold side anyway.
It’s always better to keep the temperature at a comfortable level throughout your home and program your thermostat to energy-saving settings when your home is vacant or everyone is asleep.
You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it about 8°F lower while you’re asleep or away from home. But you should not set your thermostat below 60°.
Moving your thermostat setting too low is another way to raise your risk of frozen pipes. Water pipes near outside walls or in unheated spaces are especially prone to freeze-ups. The risk increases if cracks in your foundation allow cold air to enter.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. So, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save, because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature.
The same concept applies to raising your thermostat setting in the summer — a higher temperature inside your home will slow heat gain into your house, saving you money on air conditioning costs.
The U.S. Energy Department asserts that you can save as much as 10% a year on home heating and cooling by simply adjusting your thermostat 7°-10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting.
If your heating oil furnace or heating oil boiler has not been keeping you warm enough this winter, reach out to your Massachusetts heating oil service company for advice. You may benefit from an upgrade to a more energy-efficient heating oil system.