Posts Tagged ‘energy costs’
Maintenance requirements for modern heating systems may not involve as much of a homeowner’s time and effort as years ago, but there are still some basic maintenance issues that need to be addressed to help ensure your system will operate properly when needed.
Ideally all heating systems should undergo a preseason maintenance check. Some steps are relatively simple and can be handled by any reasonably competent homeowner; however, with the extra controls and safety devices used with modern systems, most systems should be serviced annually by a qualified heating or plumbing serviceperson.
A trained serviceperson is equipped with the tools, instruments and training necessary to inspect your system, complete regular maintenance tasks or needed repairs, and adjust the burners and other components of the system for optimal and dependable performance.
While you may already have started up your system for the heating season, it is always best to arrange this servicing well before the season starts. Wait too long to schedule an appointment and you may find that you are on a long list for service – well below all the “emergency” heat calls on the service technician’s list.
For many homeowners, if their system turns on that first chilly day of the season, they tend to assume all will go well for the rest of the heating season. It’s not that the system can’t undergo servicing during the season, it’s just that doing so means you’re likely to have to pay more for the service — and worse, you increase the chance of a cold, heatless day.
Whether your system received a professional seasonal launching or not, if the system doesn’t come on when the thermostat is turned up, there are a few steps to take that might get it going before you have to call for help:
- Check the thermostat for any obvious signs of physical damage.
- Make sure the day, time and ON-OFF settings are correct.
- If the thermostat was moved or removed for re-painting or a new wallpaper project, check to make sure the wires were reconnected (with power off).
- Check to make sure the power switch for the heating system is on. (This switch is typically located on or near the unit, or if an older house, it may be located at the top of the basement stairs or on the wall of the garage.)
- Replace the thermostat battery with a fresh one.
Note: if the power switch was turned off or the battery died, the programmed settings may have returned to the factory default settings and a full reprogramming to your desired settings may be needed. Look on the back of the thermostat cover for basic instructions; otherwise refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available, try contacting the manufacturer through its website. Instructions may also be posted online. If you can’t immediately figure how to change the settings, look for a manual override (usually UP-DOWN arrows) to raise the setting to at least manually get heat if needed.
P.S. Look ahead: get your name on the service company’s schedule for next year now so you can benefit from off-season fees and ensure a successful startup next year.
There’s nothing like a hot shower to take the chill off a cold morning. If yours is leaving you cold, these simple maintenance tips can help:
- Drain your water heater twice a year. This will help remove built up minerals and sediment that can potentially harm your heater.
- Wrap an insulated blanket around your water heater so it doesn’t have to work as hard to reheat water. This will also help you cut down on energy costs.
- Replace your showerhead with an energy-efficient, or “low flow” model. These use less water so they make hot water last longer – while also saving energy and money.
- Install a hot water circulating pump if your shower takes too long to heat up. This is ideal for bathrooms far from the water heater as it keeps the hot water close by
With ever-rising energy costs, it makes sound economic sense to review the following points to determine where you can cut energy consumption for you home.
- Check for your home for air leaks. You may be able to save 10 percent or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home. On a windy day, carefully run a lighter or smoke stick around windows and door joints, and at electrical outlets and light fixtures. If the flame or smoke is drawn toward or forced away from the object, you have found an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weather-stripping.
- Maintain your heating and cooling system. The energy used to heat or air condition a house can account for more than half of the average family’s energy bill. Make sure your heating and cooling systems receive professional maintenance each year. If it is time for a new system, consider that the savings benefit for installing a new higher efficiency system can often be recouped in several years. Installing a heat pump may trim the amount of electricity used for heating and cooling by 30 to 40 percent in some climates.
- Close fireplace dampers when not in use. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes, too – 24 hours a day!
- Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely. In just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.
- Adjust drapes or blinds on your south facing windows during the day in the winter to allow sunlight in to help naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. In the summer, use drapes or blinds to reduce solar heat gain during the day.
- Turn off energy users when not in use. Individually, a small household appliance does not use much energy; but add up all the devices in the typical modern home, you will see that getting all family members to develop the habit of regularly turning off unused devices can have a noticeable effect on energy costs.
Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue.