This summer has been a scorcher, but cooler weather will be here before you know it. Now is the time to enhance your home’s efficiency. From upgrading your attic insulation to sealing air leaks, there are plenty of things you can do to improve performance and lower your heating bills this winter. We’ve got four big tips that can help you get a head start on winter.
1. Seal your air ducts. Did you know that many Virginia homes lose up to 20 percent of conditioned air through leaky ducts? You can seal some of these leaks yourself using specialized duct mastic. For flex ducts that have developed kinks or tears, first straighten them out (the kinks actually impede airflow) then use aluminum tape to seal the rips. Sealing ducts will be easiest in accessible areas like the garage, basement, attic and crawlspace. The rest of your ducts are concealed behind walls.
2. Tune up your heating system. Your HVAC system sees more work than your car, but you probably never think about it until something goes wrong. Before Jack Frost gets into town, call your contractor and have them clean your system and tune it up. Dust and dirt impede performance and can lead to higher energy bills. They can also increase wear and tear on your equipment. Make sure to change your air filter regularly, and check it at least once a month.
3. Upgrade your attic insulation. Most of the heat lost in a home escapes through the attic. Since heat rises and attics are typically very leaky, hot air is literally sucked up out of your building. You should seal air leaks before adding attic insulation. From there, you can choose to go with rolled batts, which are sometimes easier to install and remove (if you’re ever planning on using the attic for anything), or spray foam insulation. Spray foam has the advantage of being able to reach small nooks, crannies and awkward spaces.
4. Regulate your home’s humidity. We get some pretty humid weather in Virginia, but in winter your heating system may actually dry out your home. Indoor humidity levels affect how efficiently your building uses energy. This is because the more humid the air is, the warmer it will feel. So, if your home is too dry, it will also feel a little colder, and you’ll crank the thermostat up. Your home may be dry if you wake up with a sore throat, or your skin gets very dry and itchy. Consider using humidifiers if your home gets excessively dry.
There are plenty of ways to keep your heating bills manageable, but these four tricks can have some of the biggest effects.
Jesse Dugan is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @JesseDugan.