This is part 3 of a 3-Part Article about uncommon ways to lower heating bills.   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; northeast Dallas, TX; Richardson, TX and Garland, 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.

20 Uncommon Ways To Lower Heating Bills – Part 3 of 3

To Read Part 1 Of This 3-Part Article, Click Here: Lower Heating Costs: Part 1 of 3

To Read Part 2 Of This 3-Part Article, Click Here: Lower Heating Costs: Part 2 of 3

 

14. Weatherstripping Leaking Exterior Doors Lowers Heating Bills

entry door on home

Image Source: Photo by Hilary Halliwell from Pexels

Exterior Doors & Windows Account For Up To 21% Of Heat Loss In A Typical Home

Exterior Doors can be a large source of air leakage.   This Is Due To:

1. Gaps at sides & top of the door.  This weather stripping is typically metal and does not wear out.  If it does, you will see daylight at the edges of the door. Often this metal weather stripping can be bent outward  bit to close the gap at the door.

You can buy new metal weather stripping kits.  Buy the pre-cut & pre-bent product to make installation easier.  Even with that product, removing the old metal weather stripping and replacing with new will be a large job.  This is only recommended if bending the existing metal weather strip outward a little is not enough to close any air gaps.

If you have foundation problems, the door may not be completely vertical.  If this is the case, new weather stripping is unlikely too close the air gaps.

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

Shown:  5-Piece Metal Weather Strip Kit For Exterior Door

 

2. Gap below the door.  Door threshold weatherstripping is likely rubber or plastic and wears out over the years. **  This occurs more frequently because you walk on the weather stripping when attached to the threshold.

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Shown: Door Threshold With Replaceable Weather Strip

 

 

**  It’s common for older DFW homes to have a metal door threshold with no weather stripping.  Instead, the weather stripping is attached to the door.

**  Click Here To See A Diagram: Weather Stripping On Door Instead Of Threshold

 

Exterior Doors With Air Leaks

Click To See An Exterior Door’s Thermal-Image.

Thermal Image Of Exterior Door Leaking Air

(In thermal images, Purple & Blue are COLD air.  Yellow, Orange, & Red are WARM — HOT air.)

Click Here To See Gaps Around An Exterior Door: Gaps At Exterior Door – 1

Click Here To See Gaps Around An Exterior Door: Gaps At Exterior Door -2

Click Here To See Gaps Around An Exterior Door: Gaps At Exterior Door -3

 

15. Fireplace Damper

wood burning fireplace

Image Source: ShutterStock

Many wood-burning fireplace dampers don’t seal well.  It may be due to warping due to the high levels of heat.   They are metal and subject to rusting or wearing out over the years.  If you have a warped or damaged wood-burning fireplace damper, you can lower heating costs by installing an Inflatable Fireplace Balloon.  This inflatable balloon seals off the fireplace damper.  If you forget the balloon and create a fire, the balloon will deflate (though it must be replaced).  NOTE: The rod below the fireplace balloon (shown below) reaches to the bottom of the firebox (to hold the balloon in place).   This rod will serve as a visual reminder the fireplace balloon is in place.

Click Here To See A Fireplace Damper Not Capable Of Sealing Tightly: Improperly Fitting Fireplace Damper

 

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Shown: Inflatable Fireplace Balloon For Wood burning Fireplace.

Wood burning fireplaces with gas logs are required to have a damper-clamp to hold the damper open at all times.   If gas logs are installed in a wood-burning fireplace, it is now considered a gas burning appliance (just like a water heater) and require venting.   This is to eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide (CO2) from the fireplace entering the home.  If you have converted a wood-burning fireplace to gas, the flue that remains open 24/7 can be up to 21 x 21 inches (depends on fire box size and length of flue).

 

Click Here To See Venting For A Gas Fireplace: Gas Fireplace Venting Diagram

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 Shown: 9 x 9″ Inflatable Fireplace Damper For Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces are required to have a damper-clamp installed to keep the damper open at all times.  (if a damper is present).  A gas fireplace will have 3″ to 6″ oval vent that is always open.

Click Here To See A Fireplace Damper Clip Installed: Fireplace Damper Clip To Keep Damper Open All The Time

 

NOTE:  You can use an inflatable damper balloon to close off the damper hole.  To ensure your safety, if you forget the balloon and start a fire, the balloon will melt and the vent will begin to remove Carbon Monoxide / CO2 from the firebox.  With the damper locked open with a damper-clip, you are in compliance with both building code and safety codes.

NOTE: Never remove the damper clip if you have gas logs.  With the damper operable, if you were to light the gas logs with the damper closed, your home will begin to fill with CO2.  CO2 is odorless and can’t be seen.  You could easily die of CO2 poisoning.

 

16. Open A Nearby Window When Running The Clothes Dryer

home washer and dryer

Image Source: Pixabay

Your clothes dryer exhausts tremendous amounts of heated or cooled air from your home, and has a tremendous effect on heating bills.  Drying clothes uses more energy that you might think because the dryer is removing heated / cooled air from the house the entire time the dryer is running.

A clothes dryer exhausts about 14,500 cubic foot of air per hour while it’s operating. *  A 2,000 square foot house with 8 foot ceilings has 16,000 cubic feet of air.   It takes a dryer just over one hour to exhaust all the heated / cooled air from the entire house.

This heated / cooled air loss can be dramatically reduced by opening the window closest to the dryer while it’s running.  The dryer can pull in 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, air stratifies by layers based on temperature.  This is called thermal stratification.  It is the layering of differing (typically increasing) air temperatures from floor to ceiling. Stratification is caused by hot air rising up to the ceiling because it is lighter than cooler air. Conversely, cool sinks to the floor because it is heavier than warmer air.

You can lower heating bills by bringing the warmer air near the ceiling downward.  The air at the ceiling can be as much as +15 warmer that at the floor during cold weather.  Make use of the heat you already have  bringing the heat down to where you are.

Use your ceiling fan — blowing UP in winter.  Set your ceiling fan to low speed with it spinning clockwise (blowing upward) to move warm air near the ceiling down into the room (air moves along the walls).  This will air stratification between the floor & ceiling, making the room more comfortable.

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.

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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 warmth and lower heating costs.

  • In winter, when you are done with your shower, leave the bathroom door open so the heat & humidity can move into other rooms.
  • Lot of heat goes down the drain when bathing.  You may close the bathtub drain and 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 humidity in winter.
  • Move furniture to along interior walls.  Exterior walls are colder, and those with windows are colder yet.
  • Your wood-burning exhaust about 24,000 cubic feet heated air (up the chimney each) each hour.  Open the window (closest to the fireplace) a few inches.  This allows the fireplace to pull outside air from the closest location in the home.  Otherwise it pulls air in at every location where the house leaks air.  Many wood-burning fireplaces have an air-intake port that can be opened.

Click Here To See A Wood-Burning Fireplace Diagram Showing The Primary Air Intake Port (lower left corner of diagram):Wood Burning Fireplace Diagram.

  • 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.  Sweat shirts and pants come in a variety of thicknesses.  Buy the fabric-weight you prefer and 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 until you are comfortable.

19. Add Additional Heat Where You Are Located

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 those who’s home is unoccupied while they are at work, the tip can fall short of useful if the home is always occupied.  By adding additional heat in the immediate area where you are located, you can 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.

Put an electric space heater in the places you use most.  This allows you to lower heating costs by setting the thermostat lower and keeping only the space you are occupying comfortably warm.  The rest of the house will be cooler but you’ll be warm.  You save up to 2% on heating costs for every degree the thermostat is set below 70.

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.

NOTE: Don’t use space heaters that are not electric 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 which have above average ventilation, such as a garage.

NOTE:  Don’t leave electric heaters unattended.  When leaving the room, shutting it off eliminates all risk.

 

20. Establish Lifestyle Habits That Reduce Heating Costs

Establish Heating-Cost Savings Lifestyle Habits.   You can lower heating costs by adopting new 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 clogged air filter can cause a furnace to shut down in order to protect itself from overheating.
  • Don’t stand in open doorways while talking with someone who is outside.  Invite them in or step outside and close the door.
  • Reduce the use of bath vent fans during winter.  After your shower, turn the bath fan on for 10 minutes to remove the most humid air (which rises to the ceiling).  Let the rest of the heat and humidity move into the home.
  • 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.
  • Close off 1 or 2 unused rooms 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 flue as soon as it’s cool.  Huge amounts of heat will rise out of your chimney if the damper is left open.
  • Minimize clothes dryer operating time by checking frequently to ensure it does not run after clothes are dry.
  • Keep your garage door closed, especially if living space is above it.

Other Worthwhile Things To Know

  • When you turn your heat down, the cost to return the temperature will be the same as what you saved while the house was cooling down.  You save money during the hours the heat was reduced. 
  • 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 heat longer, and to a temperature warmer than what you wanted.
  • If your home feels cooler on windy days, that’s because it is.  Wind accelerates heat lots by pulling warm air from the house’s down-wind side through air leaks. Wind pushes cold air into the home (the up-wind side (the side of the house the wind is blowing against).
  • 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 billscosts.  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.
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.