Fluctuating natural gas prices coupled with another cold, long winter on the horizon means homeowners should be thinking now about how to keep their energy bills down. However, a report card recently released by Direct Energy shows many homeowners aren’t as energy efficient as they should be.
The report found that many Ontario homeowners are not making the grade in key areas associated with efficient home heating, which may result in higher energy bills this winter. Nearly all (84 per cent) of homeowners have a programmable thermostat earning them an “A” grade, but they fail when it comes to:
- setting the most energy efficient temperature;
- knowing how often to change furnace filters; and,
- scheduling a fall furnace maintenance.
Homeowners across the province received a failing grade on their intention to get their furnace maintained this fall, with only 38 per cent planning to schedule an inspection. I advise having the inspection done professionally by a licensed technician every year before winter begins to ensure your furnace is in proper working order. This routine will also help you avoid costly repairs.
With just over half (58 per cent) of those surveyed say they change the furnace filters at least every three months, a number I would like to see increase. I recommend changing or cleaning your furnace filters every three months is easy to do and helps your furnace run more efficiently.
Here are some tips to help you improve energy efficiency around your home this fall and winter:
- Lower the thermostat: Put on a sweater or extra blanket and lower your thermostat by two degrees Celsius to save up to four per cent on your heating bill. Consider replacing your old thermostat with a programmable one – some versions learn your behaviour and adjust the temperature based on your living patterns.
- Keep in the heat: Look into the attic and check to see if your current insulation needs to be topped up. Regardless of the type of insulation you have, there should be a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Improving your home’s insulation is one of the fastest and most cost effective ways to cut down on your heating costs.
- Maintain your furnace: Most manufacturers recommend that you clean or replace furnace filters every three months. It’s important to book a full inspection with a professional to maintain your manufacturer’s warranty and ensure your system is working safely and efficiently. Doing this should also help cut down on your energy consumption.
- Use ‘free’ heat: Open curtains and blinds on sunny days to let the warmth in.
- Seal it up: Check for air leaks around doors, windows and electrical outlets and use caulking or weather stripping to seal out the cold air. If you were to add up all the leaks in the average Canadian home, you would end with a hole about the size of a basketball.
Additional tips and ideas for how to improve your grade on energy efficiency can be found throughout this site.