Heating & Cooling

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more dollars than any other system in your home.

No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, weatherization, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution output in half.

Winter Tips

  • Set thermostat to 68º F
  • Turn down thermostat when not at home or when going to bed at night
  • Use space heaters wisely
    • They are meant to keep you warm in a confined area
    • They are not an efficient heating source beyond a room or two at your house
  • Clean your refrigerator coils every year, and set the temperature between 34 to 37º F
  • Set your water heater temperature no higher than 120º F
  • Use spare rugs to cover bare floors for added insulation
  • Unplug small kitchen appliances, like toaster ovens and microwaves, when not in use
    • You could save $10 to $20 per year
  • Seal air leaks and insulate well to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering your home
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Open blinds and curtains during the day to allow sunlight in to warm your home
  • Close blinds and curtains at night to keep cold, drafty air out
  • Wash clothes in cold water, and use cold-water detergent whenever possible

Summer Tips

  • Set air conditioner thermostats higher than usual, if health conditions permit
  • Close curtains and blinds to keep out the sun and retain cooler air inside
  • Turn off electric appliances and equipment that you do not need or are not using
  • If you are buying a new appliance, look for one that is ENERGY STAR® qualified. ENERGY STAR® is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to help consumers identify energy-efficient appliances and products
  • Unplug as many appliances and other items that use electricity as possible, since many of those devices continue to draw power, even if they are turned off
  • Turn off computers and monitors completely if you are going to step away for more than 2 hours
  • If your clothes dryer has a moisture sensor, be sure to use it to keep from over-drying your clothes
  • Air dry your dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 or even 115º F
  • Switch to LEDs
  • Rotate ceiling fans counter clockwise
  • If you do not have a ceiling fan, use a portable room fan
  • Cook using microwaves, crock pots and toaster ovens, since large ovens produce significant heat
  • Close air vents in rooms not in use, and fully open vents in rooms that you are using
  • Place deflectors on vents that are under tables and furniture to redirect air flow

More Heating and Cooling Tips

  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes
  • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional
  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just 1 hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air
    • Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job
  • During the heating season, keep the drapes and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows
  • During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain
  • Close an unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house, such as in a corner, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone
    • Do not turn the heating off if it adversely affects the rest of your system.
    • For example, if you heat your house with a heat pump, do not close the vents-closing the vents could harm the heat pump
  • Select energy-efficient equipment when you buy new heating and cooling equipment
    • Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage
    • Look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
    • The national minimums are 78% AFUE and 10 SEER