There are a lot of things that go into keeping your house warm in the winter. And while having an efficient HVAC system is at the top of that list, there are other factors that can cause it to work harder than it needs to. Whether you have poor insulation, a leaky attic, or a hot-blooded roommate that likes to open windows during the coldest part of the year, here are some simple ways to make your central heat work more efficiently so you stay warmer this winter.
Clean Your Ducts
Most homeowners are advised to have their air ducts cleaned regularly if they own pets or suffer with allergies and asthma. But if your home struggles to stay warm in the winter, having your ducts cleaned can help, and here's why.
When dirt and dust collect on the heat exchanger, it makes the system work harder to circulate warm air. Not only that, but dirt can end up clogging the fan, resulting in a possible emergency repair. If you haven't had your ducts cleaned in the last 3-5 years, it's time to call the professionals.
Check Air Filters
You probably know to change your air filters regularly, but it's important to inspect them to be sure they're working properly, too.
A high-grade air filter should be covered with a gray, ash-like dust after 30-90 days. If your filter looks clean after 3 months, it may not fit snugly in the vent holder, or it could be upside down. You also might need a filter with a higher rating. The higher the MERV number, the more capable it is of trapping small particles. Good filters that are doing their job are crucial for an efficient heating system.
Seal Windows and Doors
If you have windows and doors that let in cold air, there are a few easy ways to seal them up. If you're on a low budget, a rolled up towel can go a long way at blocking air leaks. But if you can spend just a couple dollars, consider installing some self-adhesive foam weather stripping.
You can also invest in a window insulator kit which contains plastic sheets that cover the windows and stay in place with double sided tape. Lastly, expanding foam is an option for visible gaps, but be aware that it does expand greatly in size. So it's best to avoid using it in places you can't see.
Get a Tune-Up
Just like your car, your central heat or furnace needs regular tune-ups. And getting one before the cold weather strikes can definitely help a house that's already struggling to stay warm.
A tune-up can improve the air flow, reduce the chance of break-downs, and can extend the life of your heating system.
Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you have a thermostat that's more than 10 years old, upgrading to a new one may be just the thing to give your heating system a boost. Newer thermostats can be programmed so that they "remember" the temps you set.
They're also more efficient than the old school thermostats that use a dial for setting the desired temperature. So go ahead and invest in a new one to enjoy better efficiency and possibly a reduced energy bill.
Check the Attic
If your attic isn't properly insulated, you could be losing as much as 25% of your heat through the roof. One way to bring that number down is by investing in new insulation. If your home is more than ten years old, it probably lacks the right kind and amount needed. Consider putting in some R-30 insulation, and your home will stay much warmer this winter.
Throw Down Some Rugs
Even though most of a home's heat gets lost through the roof and walls, you still lose heat through the floors, too. And putting down some extra rugs can mitigate heat loss. This is highly effective whether you have wood floors or carpets. The more layers you have under your feet, the less heat your home will lose.
Speak to an HVAC contractor to get some of the best heating and air conditioning tips for your home.