Cold weather is coming and before long, people all around California will be scrambling to fire up their heaters to stay warm. While winter may seem like it’s taking its sweet time to come around this year, that means now’s a great opportunity to learn how you can prepare to heat your home without the huge price tag. Make no mistake: heating is expensive and with utility costs surging across the state, anything you do to make your heater more efficient and effective could go a long way towards keeping money in your pocket this winter.
Here’s the best part: increasing your heater’s energy efficiency isn’t a terribly expensive or a difficult thing to do. You may not have to replace your heater or invest in complete home makeovers to improve airflow. Instead, making a few simple changes or taking some small proactive steps could actually keep more money in your pocket. Here are three valuable tips you can follow.
Change Your Air Filter
It’s almost impossible to understate how important it is to regularly change your HVAC system air filter because many heating issues can be traced back to a faulty or dirty air filter. Air filters that are packed with dirt and debris allow less and less air to penetrate through the filter and then circulate through your system. This leads to everything from added wear and tear on blower motors to poor air quality to overheated systems and almost everything in between.
This is why we constantly encourage homeowners to inspect their air filters at least once a month and replace them about every three months. This investment in a new filter every few months will significantly improve air quality in your home and also reduce heating costs.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Did you know that your ceiling fans can actually spin in both directions? Most people think of ceiling fans as a way to stay cool, but they can actually help you enjoy a warmer home at a lower cost. When the direction of your ceiling fan is reversed, it pulls air from downward and pushes it up rather than pulling air from above and pushing it downward. When you push this air upward, it forces the warm air that becomes stuck up toward the ceiling to cycle downward. This means the heat your heater produces, which naturally rises to the ceiling, will be forced back down, giving you a more even and comfortable heat.
How do you reverse the direction in your ceiling fan? It’s extremely simple: on the side of the fan motor is a small switch. With your fan powered off and not moving, flip that switch in the opposite direction. The next time you turn on your fan, you should notice the blades spinning the opposite way. However, before you fire up the fan, we suggest dusting the top of the blades. Dust may stick to the blades when they spin one direction, but that dust will probably come flying off when the fan spins the other way.
Avoid Fires in Your Fireplace
Have you ever noticed after getting up from sitting in front of a fire in your fireplace that the rest of your home feels considerably colder by comparison? This isn’t just an effect of moving to a colder area after sitting in front of an exceptionally warm fire—your home actually is colder. Leaving the chimney vent open is essentially the equivalent of leaving a large window open somewhere in your home. Heat of all types escapes through this vent. Much of this heat will be from your burning fire but quite a bit of it from your furnace and other heat sources in your home as well.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t use your fireplace or enjoy yourself in front of a warm fire from time to time. However, we are saying that doing so will drain some extra money from your pocket. When you’re not having a fire burning, keep the chimney vent closed to prevent this unwanted heat loss. If you plan on allowing the remains of your fire to burn themselves out, consider purchasing glass fireplace doors you can install over your chimney to close it off when not in use. This will allow you to safely allow a fire to slowly burn out without nearly as much heat loss. Plus, you’ll enjoy an increase in safety.
Another great way to keep your home warmer for less this winter: have your heater maintained professionally! Schedule a tune-up by calling Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar at (408) 868-5500 today.