Heating Tips from Flex Your Power

It’s Cold Outside…
Flex Your Power is California’s statewide energy efficiency marketing and outreach campaign. Energy saving information, tips, and resources are available on their website at flexyourpower.com.
Tips to save money while staying warm:
No Cost
  • Close drapes, blinds and shades to help retain heat at night or during unoccupied periods. Keep them open during the day to let light in, particularly for south-facing windows.
  • If you have an air conditioner, remove and store it during the winter rather than keeping it in the window.
  • In the winter, reverse your ceiling fan motor so that the blades push air up toward the ceiling, where hot air normally rises. The fan will drive the warm air back down around the edges of the room, which can result in more even heating. Better heat circulation will help combat the problem of sweating windows that some homes experience in the wintertime because of condensation on the glass.
  • Keep the fireplace damper closed when the fireplace is not in use. Closing the damper prevents up to 8% of furnace-heated air from going up the chimney. If the fireplace is never used, the damper should be sealed with weather-stripping and the chimney stuffed with fiberglass insulation. Remove this material from the chimney before a fire is lit in the fireplace.
  • Set the temperature lower in the winter when your home is unoccupied. Use a programmable thermostat to automatically lower and raise the temperature according to your settings.
  • Set the thermostat as low as comfortably possible in the winter. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall heating bill will be.

Low Cost

  • Clean furnace filters monthly. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Keep the furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted to save up to 5% of heating costs.
  • During the winter months use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frame. Hardware and home improvement stores sell products specifically for this. Remember, the plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • During the winter months, replace your screens with storm windows to provide an extra barrier to the cold outside air. This can reduce heat loss through the windows by 25% to 50%.
  • If your home has radiators, place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. This can even be done by covering a piece of cardboard with tinfoil. Be sure that the reflector does not touch the unit itself. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall.
  • Install an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat away from natural cool and hot spots. An ENERGY STAR thermostat can save as much as $115 per year, provide more flexibility than standard models and perform one or more of the following functions: Save and repeat multiple daily settings, which you can change when needed without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program; store four or more temperature settings a day; and adjust heating or air conditioning turn-on times as the outside temperature changes.
  • Seal any holes with caulk or spray foam where TV/cable wires, pipes, bathroom plumbing, ductwork, or vents enter or exit your home.

Good Investment

  • Caulk and weather-strip around windows and door frames that leak air. If replacing windows, choose ENERGY STAR qualified models designed for your area, and save $20–$95 each year in energy costs.
  • Fireplace inserts or wood stoves are available to fit into an existing fireplace. These inserts are equipped with glass or metal doors, outside combustion air vents, and heat circulation blowers. Fireplace inserts dramatically improve fireplace efficiency by blowing heat from the fire into the room and limiting the amount of heat and conditioned air lost up the chimney. Fireplace inserts are recommended for fireplaces that are regularly used. Before installing a fireplace insert, be sure to check the manufacturer’s safety specifications and make sure the fireplace insert is compatible with the existing chimney or vent flue.
  • If you use electricity to heat your home, consider installing an energy-efficient heat pump system. Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates, providing up to three times more heating than the equivalent amount of electrical energy it consumes. A heat pump cools your home by collecting the heat inside your house and effectively pumping it outside. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating as much as 30 to 40%.
  • If your furnace is more than 15 years old, replace it with an ENERGY STAR qualified furnace, which is 15% more efficient than a conventional furnace. If you have a boiler, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR qualified boiler that is 10% more efficient than a new, standard model.
  • If your heat pump is more than 10 years old, replace it with an ENERGY STAR heat pump, which uses at least 20% less energy than a standard new model.
  • In cold climates, install tight fitting window shades and insulating curtains.
  • Install a door sweep on the door to your garage to seal the gap between the bottom of your door and the threshold. This prevents cold air from coming in and warm air from escaping your home.
  • Install glass doors on fireplaces, which act as a barrier against warmed air returning up the chimney. Some models of glass doors are equipped with small vents along the bottom or sides to allow a controlled amount of combustion airflow into the fireplace. The glass allows the heat from the fire to radiate into the room. Because glass doors reduce the amount of conditioned air that is drawn up the chimney, they also reduce infiltration of outside air into the home.

Do you qualify for financial assistance?

  • Lower utility bills
  • Discounts
  • Free retrofits

Learn more here! 

2 comments to Heating Tips from Flex Your Power

  • A very well crafted post you’ve got right here. You actually managed to really identify the strong but subtle factors that really matter. I rather enjoy reading through your blog, the caliber of the knowledge is fantastic as well as your writing style certainly makes it easy to digest and understand. Fantastic! Keep up the good work.

  • You gave some awesome tips. I am always telling my customers that the best way to lower the cost of heating their homes is to caulk up doors and windows.

    I’ll be sharing many of these great tips with my customers. Thanks!

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