This is Part 3 Of our 3-Part Article discussing 25 uncommon ways to reduce heating bills (& cooling bills too).   Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  We sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (part of American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (part of York HVAC).

Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Additionally, Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  We are near your home in Plano, TX;  Allen, TX; and Frisco, TX.  We service all homes in southern Collin and Denton Counties with no additional travel charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience.

Click Here For Part One Of This ArticleAlsPlumbing.com Lower Heating Bills — Part 1

Click Here For Part Two Of This Article: A;splumbing.com Lower Heating Bills — Part 2

25 Uncommon Ways To Reduce Heating Costs

With No To Modest Cost – Part 3 Of 3

(And Most Ways Lower Cooling Costs Too)

Part 3 of our article focuses on sealing air leaks.  We identify where the leaks are — and how to seal them.

Where Homes Leak Air:

  • 31%  Floors, Walls, & Ceiling
  • 15%  Ductwork
  • 14%  Fireplace Damper Left Open When Not In Use
  • 13%  Plumbing Penetrations (though the wall)
  • 11%  Exterior Doors
  • 10% Windows
  •   4% Bath & Kitchen Venting
  •   2% Electrical Outlets & Switches 

14. Weatherstripping Leaking Exterior Doors Can Notably Reduce Heating Bills

door weatherstip

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: Weatherstrip At Top Of Door — Note: It turns this dark color over time.

Exterior Doors Account For Up To 11% Of Heat Loss In A Typical Home

Ensuring Weather Stripping Closes All Gaps Will Reduce Heating Bills.  

Gap(s) At Sides Or Top Of Exterior Doors

When homes are built — typically a metal weatherstrip is installed.  It sits between the door frame and butts against the sides of the door.  This existing weatherstripping lasts a long time.  Over time though — you may begin to see daylight around the edges of the door.  Often the metal can be bent outward a little to close gaps.

If you can’t close gaps by bending the existing metal weatherstripping outward a bit — you can add additional metal & rubber weatherstripping that fits against the front of the door.  This type is typically sold as a pre-cut set of 3 pieces to make installation easier.

You only need this if the existing metal weatherstrip doesn’t close all gaps.  Note:  Leave the existing weatherstripping in place — these two weatherstripping types touch the door at different locations and don’t interfere with each other.

NOTE:   If you have foundation problems — the door may not be completely vertical.  If this is the case, this suggested weatherstripping is unlikely to close all gaps.

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Shown:  Exterior Door Weather Strip Kit That Touches The Front Of The Exterior Door.

(This Product Is Available In Different Colors)

Click On Image To; View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

 

Gap At Bottom Of Exterior Doors

These gaps can be hiding in plain sight.  You must look under the closed door to know if there’s a gap.

Copy The Link Below To See Severage Photos Of A Gap Under An Exterior Door (scroll down):

https://www.google.com/search?q=gap+below+exterior+door&sxsrf=ALeKk02dh8oE8YHrBKbZXZV0250sdh-kng:1611601972475&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiepNqY5bfuAhUYCs0KHdlPCsgQ_AUoAnoECAMQBA&biw=1097&bih=554

 

Style-1 Exterior Door Threshold — With Rubber Seal

The two most common exterior door thresholds in DFW homes are shown below.  One has a rubber seal, and the other doesn’t. 

Each style needs different upgrades to seal air leaks.

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Shown: Door Threshold With Replaceable Weather Strip

Click On Photo To; View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com.

The rubber strip wears out over time.  You can often buy just the replacement rubber strip — and won’t have to replace the entire threshold.  You will have to measure the width & height of the existing rubber strip (see diagram just below) — to ensure it fits your existing metal threshold plate.  Replacement rubber strips are 36-inches long —  as that’s the standard width for a front door.  The rubber is easily cut to fit a narrower door.

Note: If you can’t find the correct replacement rubber strip width — the entire threshold must be replaced.Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Shown: Door Threshold Replacement Weather Strip (rubber piece only)

Click On Photo To; View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

 

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Shown: An Exterior Door-Threshold Replacement Rubber Strip (rubber piece only)

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com.

 

Style-2 Exterior Door Threshold — NO Rubber Seal

This is a common threshold found in older DFW homes — it’s flat because the home’s on a slab foundation.  This style has no option for a rubber seal for under the door.

This type of weatherstrip is required with Threshold Style-2.  It’s mounted on the interior side of the door.

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Shown: Exterior Door Metal & Rubber Weatherstrip (goes on inside of the door)

(Additional Colors Available)

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com.

NOTE:  There are stick-in (all-rubber) versions of this product.  We recommend the style shown because the all-rubber versions may not seal tightly — or will come off over time.

 

15. A Fireplace Balloon Can Reduce Heating Bills

A Fireplace (with the damper left open when not in use) — accounts For Up To 14% Of Total Heat Loss From Your Home. 

Heat rises — and an open damper provides a huge hole for it to rise through. 

If The Fireplace Has Gas Logs — The Damper Is To Be Kept Open With A Clamp (details below.   Newer gas fireplaces don’t have a damper at all.

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Shown: Gas Fireplace Insert

The best way to know if your fireplace damper is leaking air is to look up at it during the day.  If you see daylight — you’re losing heat all winter long.

  • If you have a warped or damaged fireplace damper — or your damper is clamped open, you can lower heating costs with an Inflatable Fireplace Balloon.
  • It fits inside the fireplace and pushes against the damper or flue hole.   There’s a stick (that reaches to the bottom of the fireplace) — to hold the balloon in place.
  • If you should forget the balloon — it will deflate once a fire melts it (it must then be replaced).
  • A Fireplace Balloon can stop heat from escaping up the fireplace flue when the fireplace is not in use.

Today’s Building Codes require existing wood-burning fireplaces with gas logs added must have a damper-clamp to lock the damper open.   If gas logs are installed in a wood-burning fireplace, it is now considered a gas-burning appliance (just like a gas furnace or water heater) — and requires unobstructed venting to eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide (CO2) poisoning.   If you have converted a wood-burning fireplace to gas, and the flue is clamped open — it can be a hole up to 21 x 21 inches that’s open 24/7.   The Fireplace Balloon shown above would pay for itself in heating costs savings within the course of 1 winter.

Wood-Burning Fireplace Damper-Clamp

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

 Shown: Damper-Clamp For Wood-Burning Fireplace

 

Wood-Burning Fireplace Balloon

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Click On Photo To;: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Shown: Inflatable Fireplace Balloon For Wood-Burning Fireplace (assorted sizes available).

  • Wood-burning fireplaces have a thick, heavy, metal damper.
  • This style of damper is raised during use — and lowered once the fireplace has cooled
  • Over the years these dampers often warp due to the high level of heat they’re subjected to
  • Gas fireplaces also have a damper — it will be much smaller.   
  • This damper style typically turns to open and close.
  • All fireplace dampers are subject to; warping, rusting or wearing out over the years.
  • The end result is gap(s) between the damper and what it butts up against.

Click Here To See A Wood-Burning Fireplace Damper Not Sealing Tightly: Improperly Fitting Fireplace Damper (scroll down)

Gas Fireplace Damper-Clamp

Today’s Building Codes require an existing gas fireplace (that has a damper) must have a damper-clamp installed.  Dedicated gas fireplaces have “B-Vents” (metal vent) — that can be as large as 30 inches in diameter. *3

*3 Source:  http://selkirkcorp.com/sitecore/content/global-configuration/selkirk/products/venting/large-diameter-b-vent-model-r

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

 Shown: Damper-Clamp For Gas Fireplace

 

NOTE: Don’t remove a damper clamp.  With the damper operable and closed — if light the gas logs, your home will begin to fill with CO2.  CO2 is odorless and can’t be seen.

You could easily become ill or die due to  CO2 poisoning.

 

Gas Fireplace Balloon

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Click On Photo To;: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Shown: Inflatable Fireplace Balloon For GAS Fireplace (assorted sizes available).

 

  • New Gas Fireplaces don’t have a damper — Building Code prohibits a damper due to risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. **    Gas fireplaces have a glass at the front of the fireplace to make it more energy-efficient.   NOTE:  There are vent holes for air to enter (for gas combustion) — so it’s not air-tight.
  • Direct-Vent Fireplaces (vents horizontally directly from the fireplace to outdoors).   Since heat rises — the horizontal vent nearly eliminates indoor-air from escaping through the fireplace.

direct vent fireplace venting

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: A Direct-Vent Fireplace’s Metal Vent — It Comes Through An Outside Wall Directly Behind The Fireplace.

 

Copy The Link Below Into Your Brower To See A Gas Fireplace Venting Diagram(s):

https://www.google.com/search?biw=1097&bih=539&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=QhahW9T8G7GAtgWmt5qQDA&q=direct+vent+gas+fireplace+vent+outside&oq=direct+vent+gas+fireplace+vent+outside&gs_l=img.3..0i8i30.32018.34369..34923…0.0..0.66.545.11……1….1..gws-wiz-img…….35i39j0i24.ywUO6UDdqfE#imgrc=H47UgNgHW-JJ6M

16. Open A Nearby Window While A Clothes Dryer In Running

To Reduce Heating Bills

home washer and dryer

Image Source: Pixabay

While running — a clothes dryer exhausts tremendous amounts of heated or cooled air from inside the home — and this has a tremendous effect on heating & cooling bills.

A clothes dryer exhausts around 14,500 cubic feet of air per hour while it’s operating. *  A 2,000 square foot house with 8-foot ceilings holds 16,000 cubic feet of air.   It takes a clothes dryer just over one hour to exhaust all the heated/cooled air from the house.  Then the HVAC must heat/cool air drawn into the home (through air leaks).

Heated/cooled air loss can be dramatically reduced by opening the window closest to the dryer while it’s running.  Then the dryer can draw outside air — instead of removing heated or cooled air from the home.

* Source: http://www.advancedthermalimaging.ca/default2.asp?active_page_id=104

17. Make The Most Of The Heat You Already Have

During winter — the air at the ceiling is as much as +15 degrees warmer than at the floor.  “Thermal-stratification” occurs because warm air rises because it’s less dense than cooler air.  Conversely, cool sinks to the floor because it is heavier than warmer air.

Make Better Use Of The Heat You’ve Paid For By Bringing It Down To Where You Are.

Use your ceiling fan — blowing UP (counter-clockwise) during winter.  The ceiling fan will move warm air at the ceiling down along the walls.  This will notably reduce air-stratification between the floor & ceiling — making the room more comfortable without increasing the thermostat.

No Ceiling Fan?  Add a small fan sitting on the floor and blowing upward.  This will help mix the coldest air in the room (at the floor) with the warmest air at the ceiling.  To avoid a draft, put the fan as far from the seating areas as possible.

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Note: This fan can be adjusted to several positions, from blowing forward (as show) to blowing straight upward.

18. Use Heat Created By Other Sources

There are plenty of activities you do around the house that generate heat and lower heating costs.

  • In winter, run the bath vent only until you’re done showering.  Once finished — leave the bathroom door open so the heat & humidity can move into other rooms.
  • Lots of heat goes down the drain when bathing.  You can close the bathtub drain — then drain the water once it has cooled.
  • Open the dishwasher as soon as it’s done.  This will be another notable source of heat and needed humidity in winter.
  • Move furniture along interior walls.  Exterior walls are colder, and those with windows are colder yet.
  • Your wood-burning fireplace exhaust 24,000 cubic feet of heated air (up the chimney each) each hour.  Open the window closest to the fireplace a few inches.  This allows the fireplace to draw outside air from the window.  Otherwise, the fireplace draws in the cold outdoor air everywhere the house leaks air.

Note: Many fireplaces have an air-intake port.  If yours does, open it and leave the window closed.

Copy The Text Below To See A Wood-Burning Fireplace Diagram Showing The Primary Air-Intake Port

(lower left corner of diagram)

https://www.google.com/search?biw=1280&bih=646&tbm=isch&sxsrf=ACYBGNQEV38-WE8aQlh_ikcVNVoHML1VXw%3A1572458007241&sa=1&ei=F865XcitDsfb-wSjlb-gDg&q=wood-burning+fireplace+air-intake+port&oq=wood-burning+fireplace+air-intake+port&gs_l=img.3…18354.20732..21284…0.0..0.58.419.9……0….1..gws-wiz-img.39Rrw3Dl–Y&ved=0ahUKEwiIlcjHxsTlAhXH7Z4KHaPKD-QQ4dUDCAc&uact=5#imgrc=XhDMeuf2wxa3iM

More Tips To Reduce Heating Bills

  • If you have hard-surface floors — add area-rugs in seating areas.  This provides some insulation for your feet.
  • Buy heavier clothes for relaxing at home.  Sweatshirts and sweatpants come in many thicknesses.  Buy the fabric-weight you prefer to slow the loss of body heat.
  • Buy a cotton thermal-blanket to cover yourself while relaxing.  Cotton will slow the loss of body-heat without getting you too warm.
  • Add cotton thermal-blankets to your bed.  They are good for use year-round, simply add or remove layers as desired.

19.  To Reduce Heating Bills — Add Additional Heat Only Where You Are 

You can lower heating costs by up to 10% a year by turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F (from its usual setting) for 8 hours each day.  While this tip is great for if the home’s unoccupied while occupants are at work — it won’t help if the home is always occupied.

You’ll Save Up To 2% On Heating Costs For Each Degree The Thermostat Is Set Lower. 

With an electric space heater in the immediate area where you are — you’ll be as warm as you want with the thermostat set lower.  This also provides a cooler bedroom if that appeals to you.  The house can begin cooling off while you are relaxing during the evening.

An electric heater uses 1500 watts (on high) will cost around 15 cents per hour to operate on its highest setting.  That said, they can be a great way to lower heating costs without sacrificing comfort.   Savings with be higher in a home with electric heat than one with gas heat.

NOTE: Use only electric space heaters inside your home.  Unvented. Fuel-Burning Space Heaters exhaust carbon monoxide into your home.  It is a by-product of burning any type of fuel.  Fuel-burning space heaters are intended for areas with more ventilation, such as a garage.

20. Lifestyle Habits The Will Reduce Heating Bills

Establish Heating-Cost Savings Lifestyle Habits.

  • Check and replace your furnace filter (if needed) each month.  A dirty filter extends the amount of time the furnace must run.  This raises heating costs and shortens the life of the furnace.  A badly clogged air filter can cause a furnace to overheat and shut down in order to protect itself (it will restart once it’s cooled).
  • Don’t stand in open exterior doors while talking with someone who’s outside.  Invite them in or step outside and close the door.
  • Be sure all your windows are locked to ensure the tightest seal between the upper and lower sashes.
  • If you have them, close storm windows too.
  • If you have unused rooms — close off 1 or 2 and close their heat vent.  Keep in mind this affects your furnace’s air-flow — so limit closed registers to 1 or 2.
  • Close your wood-burning fireplace damper (or insert a Fireplace Ballon) as soon as the fireplace is cool.  Tremendous amounts of heat rise out the flue if the damper’s open.
  • Minimize clothes dryer operating time by checking frequently to ensure the dryer isn’t needlessly running after the clothes are dry.
  • Keep your garage door closed — especially if living space is above it.

Other Worthwhile Things To Know To Reduce Heating Bills

  • If your home feels cooler on windy days — that’s because it is.  Wind pushes cold air into the home (through air leaks) on the side of the home the wind’s blowing against.
  • On windy days — don’t open a window for the dryer or fireplace, as the wind will accelerate heat loss.
  • When you turn your heat down — the cost to reheat the house is the same as what you saved while the house was cooling down.  You’ll save money only if the hose will be cooler longer than it takes to reheat it.
  • With a Heat Pump — it’s less expensive the keep the house at the same temperature all the time.  This is because — if the thermostat is +2 degrees higher than the indoor temp, the supplemental electric heat turns on.   Electric heat costs 1/3–1/2 more than the Heat Pump (actual savings depends on the outdoor temperature).
  • When you want your house warmer, set thermostat to only the temperature you want.  Turning the thermostat higher will not make the furnace heat faster.  It only makes it run longer — and to a temperature warmer than what you wanted.
  • Humidity level can affect a home’s comfort.  If humidity is too low (which is common in DFW winter) the home will feel cooler than if humidity was at the right amount.  The ideal range is 30-50%.  *  Buy an indoor humidity gauge and add humidity when it drops below 40%.
SUMMARY:
This article describes 20 uncommon ways to reduce heating bills.  Most energy-saving articles talk about improving the house’s energy efficiency. This article concentrates to increasing insulation and sealing air leaks.    This article advises of many additional, inexpensive to modestly priced things you can do that will have a notable to substantial impact on both heating and cooling costs.   Some items are behavior changes.  We touch on thermostat setting,  and offer several additional ways to make the most of the heat you already have inside your home.
This article was Part 3 Of our 3-Part Article discussing 25 uncommon ways to reduce heating bills (& cooling bills too).   Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally, we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard), and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in; Plano, TX; Frisco, TX; and Allen, TX..  We service all homes in southern Collin and Denton Counties with no additional travel charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.