Side Bar Tip:
It’s time to blow out your sprinkler system. No point in risking burst pipes, split distribution valves or damaged sprinkler heads.
With the winter system approaching its time to check over your home.
Here are few energy efficiency tips for the beginning of the heating season.
Furnace Filter Cleaning
Now how many times have you heard this. Unfortunately, with people’s busy schedules we tend to forget this basic furnace maintenance item. If you have been running your air conditioning system this summer, then your furnace filter is most likely at it’s end of life or just plain dirty and should be replaced.
Doing so will not only improve your air quality, but also increase your furnace efficiency. A dirty filter will reduced air flow over the furnace heat exchanger, which may reduce furnace efficiency.
If you or your family is experiencing an air quality or allergen problem, then you might want to consider several options to mitigate the problem. Duct cleaning may help alleviate the problem or reduce it. Installing a high efficiency filtration system may also be another solution. You may also want to install a UV air purification system to illuminate bacteria, viruses, molds and allergens.
Annual Furnace Tune Up
A furnace tune up can catch potential furnace failure issues early. Small issues like cleaning the burners can affect efficiency. Checking the furnace gas regulator inlet/outlet gas pressures affects how efficiently the burners are firing. Checking safety systems can give you peace of mind.
Supply Air Ducts and Register Vents
Check supply air ducts for air leakage. If you find excessive leakage use metal tape and seal these areas. You want the supply the air to where your really need it which should reducing furnace operating time, making your system more efficient.
Open supply air duct register vents to maximize air flow and make sure they are free of debris. Also check the return air registers to ensure they are clean and unblocked for maximum air flow.
If you have unused rooms in your home, you may want to close the supply air register vents to limit energy use. Caution: Closing too many vents may cause an imbalance in your supply air distribution resulting in furnace efficiency loss. If you intend to close many register vents then you should consult with your furnace manufacturer. Closing vents can imbalance the supply air and return air quantities causing home comfort issues. Also closing too many register vents can increase the supply air duct pressure which in turn can increase duct leakage, reduce air flow across the furnace heat exchanger and increase energy usage.
Running a Furnace Fan Continuously
If you have a variable speed blower fan motor the following doesn’t apply since the motor should already be in constant operation.
If you have a single speed blower fan motor, you may want to consider running the system constantly instead of letting it cycle with the burner firing system. Moving your thermostat Fan switch to the On position will accomplish this. I own a 2-story home and find this provides good comfort control for both the main and upstairs levels.
Running the fan constantly will consume a bit of extra electrical energy, but you should notice a marked improvement in temperature comfort throughout the home. Also, you may be able to lower the thermostat temperature by 1 degree to help offset the cost of the extra electrical use.
At minimum upgrade to a programmable night setback thermostat. This will allow you to automatically setback your temperature control while your sleeping or while you are at work (away from the home).
You may even want to opt for a smart thermostat. If so, check your furnace to ensure it is compatible with a smart stat. The advantages of a smart stat is you can remotely access the thermostat controls and view the actual home temperature via the internet. This is especially useful if you are away from your home for extended periods during the winter.
Where should I set the thermostat temperature? That’s a question many would answer differently and is subject to your age, physical condition, health, etc. The fact is the higher you run the temperature the more energy you will use. An alternative for improving your personal comfort maybe as simple as altering your attire. An extra layer of clothing, not wearing shorts around the house in the winter time or covering with a blanket while lounging or visiting may do the trick.
If you have a room ceiling fan run it in reverse (air up-flow) to recirculate the warm air captured at the ceiling to the rest of the room. This should reduce furnace cycling and also improve the room temperature comfort level.
During the day time keep curtains open, especially on the sunny side of the building. If the sun is shining through your windows this should provide a temperature gain within the home. Why not utilize the natural solar gain.
At night you may want to close your curtains to help retain room heat. Heavy curtains work best in this application. If during very cold winter weather, the interior of your windows accumulates a buildup of ice, you may want to back off from using this strategy. As the ice melts there is the potential to create drywall damage and internal dimensional structural damage.
Basic Home Sealing
There are some very basic things at minimal cost that can be done to improve the overall efficiency of the home.
- Check all door and weather stripping and replace as necessary.
- If you have secondary window closers, ensure they are pulled tight to improve the window seal.
- Seal all exterior electrical plug boxes, to reduce exterior migration of air into the home.
- Seal the vapor barrier around all ceiling penetrations (i.e. plumbing stacks, electrical boxes, vents, chimneys, etc.)
- Seal around ceiling attic hatches
- Check the overhead garage door seals and replace as required. You may want to adjust the door, so it closes tightly to improve the seal. This applies to un-attached heated and attached un-heated garages. Even if you don’t directly heat an attached garage it is being heated indirectly via the attached wall to the home.
Home Upgrades to Consider to Improve Home Energy Efficiency
High Efficiency Furnace
If you home still has a standard or mid efficiency furnace you may want to consider upgrading to a high efficient furnace. SaskEnergy is offering a $650 rebate for select furnace replacements until Nov 30, 2019.
Air to Air Heat Exchanger
If you find you home is drafty then an air to air heat exchanger may help. During the winter our homes can become pressure negative relative to the outside. This results in excessive outside air being sucked into the building via cracks and crannies through the exterior walls. This negative pressure is created by interior bathroom/kitchen exhaust fans, water heater operation, conventional chimney’s (if you still have one), built in vacuum cleaners, fireplaces, etc. This means you are heating excessive outside air which in turn reduces the energy efficiency of your home.
If your house is very tight, your home maybe stuffy causing odor buildup. This is a result of minimal fresh air entering the home.
In either of the above cases an air to air heat exchanger can help to mitigate these issues and improve the overall home efficiency in winter.
Window & Doors
If you current windows and doors are inefficient with outdated hardware then it maybe time to replace these units with high efficient models.
If you have an un-insulted garage door in your heated garage or unheated attached garage an upgrade to an insulated garage door with energy efficient glass is a worthwhile consideration. If you spend many hours working in your garage it may improve temperature comfort levels as well as improve floor temperatures.
The addition attic insulation if one of the most cost effective and easiest upgrades to perform. This can be a do it your self-project or you may want to hire a contractor. There are a couple of things to consider when making this upgrade. Prior to installation sealing the vapor barrier around all ceiling penetrations would be an asset. Also check if proper insulation stops have been installed to handle the increased level of attic insulation. Properly installed insulation stops provides the necessary attic ventilation requirement to eliminate frost and ice buildup up in the attic cavity.
If you intend to upgrade or replace the exterior building cladding (i.e. siding, stucco) then this would be an ideal time to add an extra layer of insulation. When adding a layer of insulation to the outside exterior sheathing it is imperative that the insulation selected be able to pass water vapor. You don’t want to trap the water vapor that may be migrating from the interior of the home to the outside walls, between the interior vapor barrier and exterior insulation. Most interior vapor barriers aren’t 100% sound and will pass some level of water vapor to the exterior. Trapping water vapor can literally rot out the wood dimensioning within the walls.
Need Service or Upgrades Help?
Give Pro Service a call at (306) 230-2442 for a free estimate.
As a step towards reliability and service integrity, we also advise you to check whether the AC contractor you’re hiring has worker’s compensation insurance and liability. Our technicians at Pro Service always do, so you can rest assured that both your AC unit and your trust are in safe hands!