What setting should I set my thermostat be at in the winter for the best energy efficiency?
It’s recommended that you set your thermostat to between 68 and 71°F when you are at home, and to lower your thermostat to around 62°F when you are away, or at night while you are sleeping.
68°F is a moderately comfortable temperature if you are moving around. It can feel quite cold if you are not. For this reason, plan on wearing thermals and sweaters to stay comfortable.
Also 68°F feels much warmer in a home heated with radiant heating, than central heating. This is because the warmth is rising from the floor so there aren't any cool drafts or cold spots.
Sleep studies have proven that you sleep better in a cooler room, so dropping the temperature to between 62 – 64°F at night will keep you comfortable while saving you energy.
Doesn't turning the heat down waste the energy required to warm the house back up?
Turning the heat down any time you plan on being away from home for more than four hours will save you money. It’s recommended that you have a programmable thermostat installed. That way your home is already comfortable when you return. It doesn't take that much energy to bring the temperature back up 6 – 8 degrees, but it does take a lot more energy to maintain that extra 6 – 8 degrees.
Heat pumps operate a little differently and take a lot longer to raise the temperature. It’s recommended that you purchase a programmable thermostat that is designed to specifically work with heat pump systems.
If you need assistance with installing a programmable thermostat, call you’ll need an HVAC contractor. They'll also help you find the right thermostat for your system and your personal needs.
What do you mean when you call a heating system a "dual fuel" system?
When a heating system is designed to run on more than one type of fuel, it is called a dual fuel system. The most common dual fuel system involves combining a gas furnace and electric heat pump. Heat pumps are efficient during mildly cold weather, but begin losing their ability to heat a home as temperatures drop. If the home is equipped with a dual fuel system, the gas furnace can kick in and take over heating.
Can a fireplace be an efficient way to heat a home?
Generally, fireplaces draw more heat out of the home than they create?unless a special fireplace insert is installed that acts more like a wood-burning stove. It is important to use an insert that has a radiant glass door, as it increases the heating efficiency of the insert by up to 90%. When a blower is included, the heating efficiency goes up 74 – 92% as compared to a fire in a standard fireplace.
Both wood-burning and gas burning fireplace inserts are available. Call a heating contractor if you would like to explore this option. An expert can help you choose the right option for your home.
Should I close the heating registers in rooms I don't use?
It's okay to close a few heating registers, but be careful not to close more than 1/3 of the total registers in your home. A forced air system is designed for the size of your home, and when too many registers are closed off, it allows pressure to build up in the ducts. The blower fan has to work harder to push air through the registers that are open. This kind of wear and tear will cause the blower fan to wear out long before it should.
How important is it to make sure the ducts in my heating system don't leak?
Leaking ducts can cause more energy loss in a heating system than anything else. A duct inspection that pressurizes the duct system to identify if it has any leaks could be one of the smartest investments you could make. Making sure your ducts are sealed, connected and free from leaks can drop your energy bill anywhere from 5 -17%.
How often should ductwork be cleaned?
Clean your ductwork every three to five years. Make sure they are cleaned upon completion of any renovations on the duct system.
Ducts collect dust, bacteria and molds that are then transferred into the air as it moves through the rooms of your home. Routine cleaning can reduce allergy symptoms and some other unexplained symptoms, including as headache and fatigue.