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As the summer breezes begin to fade into chilly fall temperatures, a lot of us start to worry about the cost of heating our homes through the winter.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can optimize your heating system fuel consumption this fall so that you’re prepared for winter.
1. Monitor Fuel Consumption
When you’re trying to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your heating fuel costs, the first thing to do is figure out exactly how much you’re using.
The process for calculating your consumption is simple and looks like this:
- Monitor the heating system burner for one entire hour to see how many minutes of the hour it operates
- Do the same thing at a later point on the same day
- Average the total time the burner operated within an hour
- Multiply this number by 24
- Multiply this result by the system’s posted “gallons of fuel per hour” ratio to determine the number of gallons of fuel your home uses in one average day
Almost all well-maintained furnaces and boilers use a consistent amount of fuel. However, keep in mind that the average amount you use on a given day can vary greatly depending on current weather and other external conditions.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to do this procedure on different days with widely varying temperatures, then take an overall average of fuel use.
2. Ways To Decrease Your Use of Energy
Even if you think you’re already using as little energy as possible, there are still ways to further decrease your consumption.
Begin by doing your informal home assessment. Take a walk around the house and look for holes and cracks that could allow cold air to freely pass around windows and doors.
When you locate obvious air leaks, seal them off with weatherstripping or caulk.
This is also a good time to take a look at the insulation in your home. Most home constructions are done by including the amount of insulation that was legally required at the time of the build. But like almost every other construction component, the requirements for insulation are prone to change.
If you live in an older home, the insulation might be well overdue for a refresh.
The best way that you can get a close look at your insulation situation is by looking at areas in your attic that don’t have adequate coverage. You also want to look at how the openings around your chimneys are insulated.
If you’re not confident doing your own energy assessment, give an expert a call and get an energy audit scheduled before the temperatures begin to drop even further. Discover more at Dayton HVAC company.
3. Lower the Thermostat Temperature
If you still have a manual thermostat, it can be challenging to consistently lower your energy consumption. Manual thermostats need frequent adjustments and don’t respond automatically to changes in the environment.
Consider investing in a smart or programmable thermostat before the winter months set in.
A thermostat that’s programmable allows you always to optimize the settings that will use the least amount of heating system fuel possible. You can do this by plugging the schedule of your family directly into the thermostat.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the winter months a thermostat should be set at 68 degrees when the family is home. The thermostat should then be programmed to lower by 10 – 15 degrees when nobody is around.
Make sure that it’s programmed to go back to 68 degrees around 30 minutes before you and your family will return home.
Beyond simple programming capabilities, a smart thermostat will offer additional ways to optimize heating system fuel consumption. Simply connect your smart thermostat to your in-home Wi-Fi network, then allow the smart device to adjust its temperature settings and daily forecast automatically automatically.
Most smart thermostats also give you the option of running energy reports. These allow you to take a detailed look at the times when you’re using the most fuel.
4. Is It Time for a Furnace Upgrade?
Of course, replacing your current heating system with a new one will require a bit of an investment. However, the investment is one that will pay you back several times over in the coming years.
If your home has a system that’s more than 15 years old, this might be the time to finally take the leap into a new system.
To determine the exact age of your furnace, begin by researching the model and serial number posted on the unit. If you can’t find specific information online, give the manufacturer a call and they should be able to help.
When you begin shopping for a new furnace, make sure to limit your search to only units that carry the Energy Star label. These will meet or exceed government standards for overall energy efficiency.
Furnaces that are labeled by Energy Star are, on average, about 4% more efficient than non-Energy Star models. These will save the typical homeowner between $50 – 100 each year on energy costs.
Another important specification to look for is the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). All manufacturers are required to display this calculation on all new boilers and furnaces, so it should be prominently featured on each unit you look at.
The AFUE will be displayed in a percentage format, which means that a 99% AFUE would indicate that 1% of overall fuel input is lost while 99% is used to directly heat your home.
Every type of furnace will have different requirements. For example, an oil furnace has to meet a minimum of 83% AFUE.
Staying On Top of Heating System Fuel Consumption
During these challenging economic times, more and more families are looking for ways to save money this winter. For those that live in cold climates, understanding and optimizing heating system fuel consumption is a fantastic way to do this.
Now you know exactly what you need to do.