Heating and 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 68 degrees.
  • 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 34-37 degrees F.
  • Set your water heater temperature no higher than 120 degrees 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.

Ten tips to Chill Your Winter Bill

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 two 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 degrees or even 115 degrees.
  • 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. However, 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.