THE TRUTH BEHIND COMMON HOME HEATING MYTHS
If you’ve ever taken measures to cut back on your energy use, only to be disappointed with the outcome, you’re not alone. Many common beliefs about energy conservation aren’t entirely accurate or inflate expectations. Julie Lowe, energy manager for Southwestern Electric, offers a handful of common myths and misconceptions about home heating, and simple ways to save on your energy bill.
Cranking up the thermostat will make my home warmer, faster, so I’ll save money.
When your heater has been off or turned down low enough for your home’s temperature to drop significantly, you might assume the best way to drive the temperature up is to over-run the system. Putting extra stress on your system is more likely to cause it to run less efficiently, leading to higher energy bills and added stress placed on the unit itself. It’s best to gradually increase the temperature so your system can run at its optimal rate.
I can use space heaters to save money.
Since running a central heating system requires a lot of energy, many people attempt to rely on space heaters to cut costs. While this may prove effective in some cases (for example, if you are trying to heat one small room), running space heaters to heat an entire house or floor doesn’t cut down on costs. You’re just running several high-energy appliances at once. In addition, there are safety concerns associated with space heaters, such as house fires. It’s best to avoid relying on space heaters for long periods of time.
Keeping my curtains closed will shut out the cold and conserve energy.
It is helpful to close your curtains at night in order to trap warm air inside your home. It’s equally helpful to keep your curtains open during the day to allow sunlight to naturally warm your home. Those rays may not be enough to heat your home, but opening your curtains and blinds may help just enough to keep your heating system from running too often throughout the day.
A new furnace will solve my heating efficiency issues.
A modern heating system is a very powerful and efficient piece of equipment. However, it cannot do its job properly if there are underlying issues with your home. For example, if you are setting your thermostat to 70 and notice that your heater is constantly running in order to reach that temperature, it doesn’t always mean something is wrong with your heating system. Be sure that you aren’t dealing with any leaks near your windows, doorways, or in your ductwork that may be causing your heating system to work harder than it needs to.
My system is delivering warm air, so it’s in good shape.
Many people assume that if their system is running, then it is working fine. But your heater’s internal components may not be completely up to task even if your vents are expelling heated air. Small issues that are difficult to identify early on can cause your system to run less efficiently and lead to major repairs down the road. Scheduling regular system maintenance, especially before a heavy-use season, is a great way to save money on your energy bill, prolong the life of your system, and save on stressful emergency repair calls.
For additional energy-saving ideas and advice, contact Julie Lowe, energy manager for Southwestern Electric Cooperative, at (800) 637-8667 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie's Energy & Efficiency column appears each month in The Southwestern. For back issues of the magazine with more energy-saving information, click here.
You can also visit TogetherWeSave.com, an online energy-saving resource brought to you by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, including Southwestern Electric.