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Pre-Winter HVAC Tips: 5 Steps to Keep the Heat In

woman in coat in house

It’s all well and good to talk about keeping heating expenses low when it is still warm out. But let that first nor’easter blow through and most people quickly shift gears and crank up the heat.

We want to help you keep those heating bills as affordable as you possibly can, which is exactly what this blog post is about.

What Winter Heating Costs You

According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, most Ontario homeowners spend about $2,358 per year on energy.

Natural Resources Canada reports that a full 61 percent of that bill is devoted to heating the home.

This works out to an average annual bill of $1,438 just for space heating alone, making heating potentially the single largest expense of owning a home in Canada.

But it gets worse.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that up to 33 percent of heating efforts come from just trying to keep a space with air leakage warm.

This means you may be spending as much as $474 per year heating the great outdoors!

4 Ways Your Home Loses Heat

There are five major areas where your home can lose heat.

This is the bad news.

The good news is that all of these issues are fixable, preferably before winter arrives in force!

1. Windows and doors: 25 percent

If you have trouble opening or closing your windows and doors or keeping them open or shut, or if you walk by either in the winter or summer and feel the temperature outdoors accurately, you can be fairly certain your windows and doors are a major source of air leakage.

2. Attic: 25 percent

Because heat naturally rises to the top of any space, this makes the average attic one of the biggest causes of escaping heat.

With natural and manmade cracks from air vents, chimneys, missing shingles and similar issues, the heat loss simply increases.

3. Walls: 35 percent

Most new-home construction is now being built with energy conservation in mind. Not so for older homes, however, and many have degraded insulation or are simply missing protective insulation in walls.

4. Basement and floors: 15 percent

Few basements are properly equipped to safeguard against winter heat loss. Although this fact isn’t well known, concrete is a notably poor protection against heat loss, which means most basements lack additional insulation and can really drive up the cost of winter heating.

5 Steps to Keep the Heat In This Winter

This leakage, called “infiltration,” happens continually as the temperature differential between the warm indoors and the cold outdoors creates building expansion and contraction and thus, new leaks.

At first, these leaks are quite small, but over time and through repeated seasonal shifts, they get bigger and let more air out – and in.

This is why even purchasing an energy-efficient HVAC with a “smart” thermostat isn’t typically enough to see a significant downward trend in your heating and cooling costs. Your furnace on its own can only do so much in the face of constant air infiltration.

These five steps can go a long way to reduce your winter heating costs permanently. For some extra help, the U.S. Department of Energy has compiled a list of DIY leak detection tips you can use for your home.

1. Insulation

Today many different types of insulation exist and different types are better suited to different areas in your home.

For example, in a basement or attic, you want to select insulation designed to withstand the higher humidity levels in these areas.

2. Weatherstripping

Caulking and weatherstripping will prevent air from leaking out (or in) through a surprising number of areas in your home!

Windows, doors, exhaust vents and fans, exterior vents, chimneys, fireplace flues, electrical outlets, wiring, pipes, ducts, wall joints, A/C and heat vents, and registers are all places that may need to be caulked or weatherstripped.

3. Heat recovery ventilation

This may surprise you, but not all the heat energy that your home loses is due to air leaks! Some of that extra energy is lost simply due to attrition as stale outgoing air is exhausted outside your home.

That stale air is still warm. Heat recovery ventilation is an innovative and relatively new technology that pulls heat from the stale outgoing air and recycles it to pre-heat new incoming fresh cold air from outside.

4. Air duct maintenance

Leaky air ducts not only let in all kinds of unsavory characters (dust, pollen, pet dander, insects, animals, waste, etc.) but also let out plenty of warm air all winter long.

Older air ducts often start to sag, rip, tear and leak, making them a prime source of indoor heating energy losses as well as a constant source of indoor air quality declines.

Indoor air duct cleaning and maintenance is a vital component of lowering your winter heating bills.

5. Furnace maintenance

Finally, there is no substitute for preventative furnace maintenance before the winter season hits. This is the number-one way to prevent an untimely mid-winter outage.

Get in Touch

Do you need assistance getting your HVAC system and home ready for winter? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-549-4616.

p.s. Make sure you never miss a weekly blog post – sign up for free using this simple form!

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