Winter weather has arrived in Riverside, CA, so you’ll be reaching for your thermostat to turn on your heating system. Heating accounts for about 29% of your annual utility expenses. If you’re tired of paying higher utility bills every month of the winter, use these six tips to boost energy efficiency without sacrificing your comfort.

Stop Air Leaks

Your home’s exterior walls have plenty of openings for plumbing, electricity, cable lines and ventilation. Some of the heated air produced by your home’s heating system can be lost through these openings. Use the appropriate type of caulk to seal the little gaps that allow warm indoor air to leak outdoors. Add insulation to empty spaces behind cabinets, closets and recessed lights. Consider an energy audit of your home to find air leaks around the attic and foundation.

Change the Air Filter

Most heating system maintenance is best left to professionals, but one thing you can and should do yourself is changing the air filter. Set a reminder to check the air filter once a month. If it’s dirty, remove and replace it. Don’t go longer than three months between air filter changes this winter. Replacing a dirty air filter with a clean one will increase your heating system’s efficiency by 15%. Clean air filters promote better airflow. The increased airflow increases your comfort.

Use a Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats allow you to program a different temperature for each part of the day. Lowering the temperature while you’re away from home during a winter day reduces the number of heating cycles the furnace or heat pump performs, which lowers energy use and utility bills.

Smart thermostats have software that learns your schedule and makes these adjustments, so you don’t need to remember to adjust the thermostat before leaving home. Each smart thermostat manufacturer has its own app. With the app, you can use your smartphone to adjust your home’s temperature if your schedule changes. Some smart thermostats feature geofencing, which tracks the location of your phone and adjusts the timing of heating cycles to optimize energy efficiency and indoor comfort.

Take Advantage of Solar Radiation

During the day, open the curtains, shades or blinds on your home’s east-, south- and west-facing windows. The sun’s radiation will warm your home by several degrees. This reduces the burden on your home’s heating system during the daytime hours. At night, close the drapes to prevent the heat from escaping through the windows.

Reduce Fireplace and Window Drafts

When you’re not using your fireplace, keep the tempered glass doors and dampers closed. If you never use your fireplace and don’t plan to, consider having the flue plugged and sealed. This turns the fireplace into a decorative unit, and the heated air produced by your furnace or heat pump will no longer escape up the chimney. Add caulk around the fireplace hearth and around the interior and exterior window frames to reduce air leaks.

You can also install weatherstripping around doors. Weatherstripping is self-adhesive and helps the door form a better seal. If you have old windows, consider using thermal plastic sheeting to create an additional seal against air leaks. You can purchase these kits at home improvement stores for a few dollars.

Schedule a Heating System Tuneup

Be sure to schedule an annual heating system tuneup. This preventive maintenance visit includes a thorough system cleaning and lubrication of mechanical parts. Our skilled service technicians change the air filter. We run a system performance test to make sure your furnace or heat pump provides enough heat and airflow. Routine maintenance also helps us identify parts with excess wear and tear that could reduce the heating system’s energy efficiency or cause a sudden breakdown that disrupts your comfort. A well-maintained heating system costs 15% less to operate compared to a neglected one.

To learn more about enhancing your home’s comfort and energy efficiency this winter, take a look at Magnolia Heating and Cooling’s heating services. Get in touch with us today for additional tips.

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