(BPT) – The heat is definitely on this winter. With winter storms hitting many parts of the country early in the season, furnaces are plugging away, causing rising heating bills. Space heating is the largest energy expense in the average U.S. home, accounting for 45 percent of energy bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Consumers are looking to keep their homes cozy as the temperature continues to drop, while also having manageable utility bills.
To help homeowners combat the cost of heating a home during the winter months, Bobby DiFulgentiz, an energy efficiency expert with Lennox Industries, suggests looking at various spots around the house to keep the warm air in and the cool air out.
“Many places around the home can allow warm air to escape, wasting heating dollars. This causes your heating system to work overtime to keep your house comfortable,” DiFulgentiz says. “It’s important to take a look at the attic, fireplace, windows and your furnace to ensure your home is ready to combat the cold efficiently. The little time it takes to make a few quick checks and adjustments in a home can yield dividends in savings and comfort in the long run.”
Attic: The attic is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to heat loss. If you are experiencing high heating bills and having difficulty keeping your home warm, it could be time to add insulation. DiFulgentiz says that attic insulation should be approximately five inches deep. Homeowners can hire a professional or install additional insulation themselves with portable blowing units available for rental at home improvement stores.
Fireplace: To prevent warm indoor air from escaping the home, DiFulgentiz reminds homeowners to keep fireplace dampers closed when not in use. However, always make sure the damper is fully opened before starting a fire. Look for any gaps in the mortar between bricks, as they can allow moisture to build up and compromise the roof’s integrity. Also check for soot buildup in the chimney, and if necessary, hire a professional chimney sweep to perform a thorough cleaning.
Furnace: DiFulgentiz recommends having your furnace thoroughly inspected by a company with certified technicians. In addition, changing furnace air filters at least once a month and vacuuming the heater vents in the living areas of the home will help keep your heating system clean and working efficiently. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, Lennox recommends upgrading to a high efficiency unit, such as the high efficiency Lennox SLP98 Variable-Capacity Gas Furnace.
Windows: Air leaks caused by cracks or holes around windows and doors can enable warm indoor air to escape and cold outside air to seep in, preventing you from maintaining a consistent indoor temperature. DiFulgentiz suggests sealing cracks with caulk or weather stripping, particularly in the exterior joints of your home where brick or siding fits against another material, such as wood. In addition, drapes, shutters or insulating shades can be installed on windows and doors to increase energy efficiency and help prevent heat loss.