Heating the air and water in the average home is very energy intensive, making up a large percentage of a typical utility bill. With today's skyrocketing energy costs, Coloradans are looking for ways to save on home heating costs.
When systems are not maintained or used in the optimal way, it can end up wasting a lot of energy and money. Here are some cost-effective ways you can maximize your energy savings around the home during the winter months – and year round.
Tank-style water heaters have to constantly heat a large volume of water. An inexpensive way to help the water heater work more efficiently is to cover the tank with an insulated water heater blanket. While you may not notice much heat when placing your hand on the tank surface, the amount of heat that escapes over the the entire surface is significant enought to make the cover a good investment. When installing the blanket be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions.
Over time, naturally occuring minerals in the water can accumulate at the bottom of the water heater tank. The more residue at the bottom of the tank, the longer the heating element needs to remain on to heat the tank. The solution is to drain and flush the water heater tank on a regular basis to remove the sediment build-up. The frequency of how often you should flush your water heater tank will vary depending on how hard your home's water is. If you have to clean your shower heads more than once a year, for example, we recommend flushing your water heater tank annually. Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating can help perform water heater maintenance if needed.
In the typical household bathing uses the most hot water. To reduce hot water usage low-flow shower heads are an inexpensive way to save significantly on hot water costs. Laundry is another task that uses a lot of hot water. Newer laundry detegents have been formulated to clean more effectively with cold water. Give these detergents a try and see if you can clean laundry with cold water.
Is your water heater more than ten year old? It may be time to replace it with a more efficient model. When shopping for a new water heater be sure to check the EnergyStar® label. It will show you how much energy you can expect to spend annually based on average water usage and utility rates. The purchase of a new water heater that is more efficent may allow you to quickly recover the cost of replacing an older, less efficent unit.
If you find that your household is running out of water too frequently, consider a tankless water heater. Tankless or "on demand" water heaters heat water only when it's needed, significantly reducing water heating costs.
Even if your home has the newest, most efficient furnace that money can buy, if your home is poorly insulated and leaking air, it's still going to end up wasting energy and costing you money. Take a look up in your attic and make sure that it's sufficiently insulated. Replace worn out weatherstripping around windows and doors. A little bit of work insualting your home will not only make you more comforable, it will improve heating efficeincy, regardless of the age of your furnace.
Before the cold weather arrives, have Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating tune-up your furnace. A poorly maintained furnace will operate less efficiently, will break down more ofen and will need replacement sooner than a unit that undergoes annual heating system maintainece. Also, remember to regularly replace your furnace filter. A clean filter will improve efficiency and prevent wear and tear on your furnace from dirt and grime.
While many homes have programmable thermostats, it's suprising how few people actually take the time to set the thermostat to match the household routine. Programming the thermostat to warm the home in the morning and turn down the heat when your asleep or away from home can greatly reduce heating and cooling costs.
Smart therostats, such as the Nest® and Ecobee®, provide a great advantage over traditional programmable thermostats – they learn a household's routine and automatically and adjust the temperature acccordingly to maximize efficiency – with little to no effort.
Ceiling fans are often thought of appliances that are used in hot climates to cool the air, but they can be just as useful in cold weather. Reversing the diretion of the fan in the winter will circulate the warm air from the ceiling to living space below, making you more comfortable without having the turn up the heat.
With energy costs increasing over last season, many Grand Country area homeowners are looking for ways to cut their energy usage and save money this heating season.
Insulate ceilings to R-38 levels if your attic has less than R-19. Caulk around windows, doors and anywhere air is leaking in or out. Apply weatherstriping around windows and doors. Wrap heating and cooling ducts with duct wrap.
Lower the Thermostat
Set the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower. 3 percent to 5 percent more energy is used for each degree the furnace is set above 68 degrees and for each degree the air conditioner is set below 78 degrees. Even better, upgrade to a smart thermostat that learns your routine and turns the heat down when the home is unoccupied.
Keep Up With Maintenance
Clean or replace furnace filters regularly, following manufacturer's instructions. Schedule annual heating system maintenance.
Replace Old Windows and Doors
Replace old windows and doorswith new, high performance multi-pane windows with a better efficiency rating.
Use Window Coverings
Install insulated window shades and open them on sunny days to help warm rooms.
Close Off Unused Fireplaces
Close fireplace dampers when it is not being used. Avoid relying on fireplaces for home heating, they are no where near as efficient as central heating and can make outlying rooms colder.
Set the water heater thermostat at 140 degrees or "normal."
Use an insulated water heater blanket
Install energy-saver showerheads
Wash your laundry using a cold water detergent
Repair Plumbing Fixtures
Fix or replace defective plumbing valves or dripping faucets. A single dripping water faucet can waste over 200 gallons of water a month.
Wash only full loads in a dishwasher
Use the shortest cycle that will get your dishes clean. If operating instructions allow, turn off the dishwasher before the drying cycle, open the door and let the dishes dry naturally.
It's the first freezing cold night of the year in Colorado and you go to switch on the furnace... and nothing happens. What should you do? It could be an simple fix, so here's what to check:
If none of the above steps works and the furnace still won't turn on, call Grand Lake . We'll get the heat back on FAST.
The Mayo Clinic study was applied to a classroom full of children. It found that by increasing a classroom’s humidity, they could limit the flu’s ability to survive on surfaces and its ability to infect people, as compared to non-humidified rooms. The researches think that as humidity increases, the viral droplet size becomes larger, settling out of the air rapidly and reducing the likelihood of airborne transmission. The same theory applies to other contaminants in the air, such as dust mites, pet dander and bacteria, which will all linger longer in dry air.So what is the ideal humidity level? 30-50% relative humidity is a good target for most homes during Colorado's dry winter months. The best way to increase humidity in the home is to use a whole-home humidifier that is connected to the home's ventilation system. The humidity level can then be set at the thermostat to find the right balance of heat and relative humidity to maintain comfort and reduce the airborne contamination.
Did you know that nearly 40 percent of the conditioned air from your central heating and cooling system may not be making it to the rooms it is supposed to reach? The main culprit is leaking air ducts. It's often the reason some rooms never feel comfortable and the furnace or AC runs seems to run longer than it should, wasting energy and costing you money.
Your home's metal ductwork is full of joints, curves and creases that can allow air to leak out. A profesional HVAC technician can identify these leaks and offer solutions for providing tighter, improved airflow throughout the home. One option is professional duct sealing. Duct sealing involves measuring the rate of air entering and returning in through the HVAC system.
The first step to fixing air duct leaks is to have Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating inspect the efficiency of your HVAC system. We can identify any problem areas and recommend solutions to reduce air leaks. We offer advanced diagnostics and solutions to help your heating system operate at peak efficiency.
Smart thermostats offer many advantages over conventional thermostats. They provide increased comfort, significant energy savings and convenient remote access to temperature controls. However, there are a few differences between manufacturers that you should be aware of. Here are a few questions to ask when installing a new smart thermostat.
When installing the thermostat it's important to keep it away from vents and sources of heat that could affect the temperature readings. Place the thermostat in an area with minimal disturbance such as an interior wall.
A C-wire, or common wire, provides continuous power to your smart thermostat display and WiFi connectivity. If you don’t have one or aren’t sure, give us a call and we can help install one if needed.
If you plan to use it from your phone make sure that the app works on your device. If you're away from home, having access to temperature settings can be a bonus.
One of most convenient features of smart thermostats is their ability to interact with voice assistants like Google Home, Alexa® and Siri®. Check the manufacturer's website to see if your assistant is compatible with the thermostat models you are considering.
If you're primarily interested in improving efficiency and lowering energy costs, consider a model with data tracking and reporting. You'll be able to see hour-by-hour and day-by-day how often your heating and cooling system are operating.
Have questions about smart thermostats? Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a call, we're happy to help.
Your home's air duct system is a network of metal tunnels in the walls, floors, and ceilings that carry conditioned the air from the furnace and central air conditioner to each room. If the air ducts are poorly sealed, or have holes and gaps, you're energy bills are likely to be higher than they should be. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces such as crawl spaces, basements or attics can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills.
The good news is you can effectively reduce this energy waste by sealing and insulating your ducts. Insulating ducts in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost-effective.
Sealing your home's ducts is important to prevent air loss, especially if the ducts are located in an unconditioned space such as an attic or crawlspace. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air will be forced out and lost. In addition, unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through unsealed joints.
Minor duct repairs can be made by homeowners, while an HVAC professional should seal and insulate ducts in unconditioned spaces or make any necessary modification or additions to existing ductwork. In addition to sealing your ducts, it's important to ensure that objects are not blocking the your registers, including furniture, rugs, drapes, etc.
1. Inspect the ducts for air leaks by looking for sections that should be joined but have separated, then look for holes.
2. While duct tape seems like the most obvious material to use for duct sealing, duct mastic is a better choice for sealing seams and joints. While mastic is more durable than duct tape, but should not be used to cover gaps over ¼ inch. Larger gaps must be first bridged with a special mesh tape or a high quality heat approved tape. Butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat-approved tapes are also a good choice for sealing ducts.
3. If you're sealing or insulating air ducts in the basement, it will make the space colder, increasing the risk of frozen pipes.To prevent burst pipes ensure that the basement walls are well insulated or use an electric heating tape on the pipes.
4. If the basement is finished, ensure that there are both supply and return registers in all rooms.
Have questions about your home's air ducts? Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a call, we can help answer all your home heating and cooling questions.