(StatePoint) A frosty winter wonderland is fun to experience -- outside. Inside is another story. By keeping your home heating system running at peak performance, you'll lower your winter utility bills and experience increased comfort.
According to North American Technician Excellence (NATE), here’s how to stay toasty this winter without breaking the bank.
Get the Right Equipment
It all starts with the right heating equipment. Choosing a furnace with an ENERGY STAR logo is important, however, it’s also a good idea to understand standard efficiency ratings so you can easily compare the performance of different systems.
When you need to measure the thermal efficiency of your furnace or water heater, Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) helps determine the actual, annual, average efficiency of that piece of equipment. It measures the amount of heat delivered to your house compared to the amount of fuel that you must supply to the furnace. The U.S. Department of Energy determined that all furnaces sold in the U.S. must have a minimum AFUE of 78%.
The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is the most commonly used measure of the heating efficiency of heat pumps. Typically, a high-efficiency heat pump pays for itself in savings in a few years.
Take These Steps
A little DIY can work wonders. Follow this checklist for improved efficiency of heating equipment:
• Check heating filters every couple weeks and change them at least twice in the season, or as directed by the manufacturer.
• Check and maintain insulation. Improperly insulated walls, floors, attics, basements and crawlspaces drain away heat and can also lead to moisture imbalance.
• Check ductwork for insulation and leaks. No matter how “state of the art” your heating system is, if your ductwork is bad, it will diminish efficiency.
• Turn down the thermostat by a few degrees and dress more warmly.
• Clean the furnace area. Don’t keep chemicals or cleaning products near your heater, and don’t store anything next to it that could impede ventilation.
• Keep vents and returns free of obstructions.
• Install a humidifier to make indoor air feel warmer.
Work With Experts
Be sure all work performed on your heating equipment is carried out by a trustworthy, NATE-certified technician. Even the most efficient system can suffer if it’s not properly maintained. NATE-certified technicians have demonstrated knowledge of today’s heating and cooling systems. Better installation and service means your equipment will run at peak efficiency. Visit natex.org for additional winter tips and resources, and to find a NATE-certified technician in your area.
If you do call in a technician, prep for their arrival. You can help your technician diagnose a potential problem with your heating equipment by being prepared to share important information, such as the age, brand and model of your furnace and whether it’s been leaking, making unusual noises or emitting odors.
With a combination high-efficiency equipment, a little DIY and the help of professional expertise, you can stay warm and cozy on-budget, all season long.
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