The 2020 Farmers’ Almanac predicts “yet another freezing, frigid, and frosty winter for two-thirds of the country.”
The good news is homeowners don’t have to choose between staying cozy and eco-conscious. Today’s innovations make it easy to enjoy both smart home climate control technologies and advanced heating systems created to achieve maximum energy efficiency and comfort.
As you consider ways to live green this winter, you may be surprised to learn that home heating uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home — typically making up nearly half of your utility bill.
It’s no wonder optimal energy efficiency is a homebuyer’s top “green preference,” with nearly half of the homebuyers willing to invest between $1,000 and $9,999 for a $1,000 annual savings on their utility bills, and 37 percent are willing to spend upward of $10,000, according to the National Association of Home Builders 2019 “What Home Buyers Really Want” Report.
So, how do you choose a home heating solution that is both earth and financially friendly? Here are some tips to guide your journey.
1. Get ‘Smart’ About Home Climate Control
When it comes to smart home temperature control, there are smart HVAC systems and smart thermostats.
Smart HVAC systems have built-in internet capability and can be controlled directly without additional equipment.
Smart home thermostats create “smart” systems by enabling remote temperature control via a mobile or internet-connected device or voice-operated home automation system.
2. Upgrade Your System or Thermostat
Consider upgrading your system and installing a smart home thermostat that can significantly reduce your utility expense. Among the most energy-efficient heating and cooling products on the market, ductless mini-split systems can save as much as 25 percent on your energy bill.
Further, an efficiently controlled thermostat could save an additional 10 percent a year by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting.
Set the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and set it lower while you’re asleep or away from home.
3. Voice Your Preferences
Take control of your comfort. Most HVAC manufacturers offer apps that enable systems to be controlled from anywhere using a mobile device.
Now, voice-control capability uses digital assistants, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, to verbally dictate home temperatures.
Being able to easily control the temperature more closely allows homeowners to be more comfortable and improve energy savings.
4. Find the Efficient Comfort Zone
Many of us live in homes designed for bigger families but have yet to downsize. If you find yourself using a fraction of your home on a regular basis, consider upgrading to a zoned ducted, or ductless system. This will allow you to save energy in heating and cooling spaces where your family doesn’t spend a lot of time.
This will multiply savings as you not only need less heat (and cool air) but you also gain from a more efficient system in the spaces you do still use.
5. Capture the Sun
Even if you don’t have solar panels, you can still take advantage of the sun’s energy to heat your home. Open your south-facing curtains at sunrise to make the best use of passive solar gain.
This works particularly well if your home has stone or concrete floors, as they have a large thermal mass, meaning they soak up a lot of heat and release it slowly.
Remember to close your curtains as soon as the sun dips to trap all that free heat.
6. Use Waste Heat
Some equipment in your home generates “waste heat” during normal operation.
For example, your computer belts out waste heat that’s dispersed with the aid of cooling fins and a fan.
Position your workstation where you can best use that thermal energy to help warm your room, for a free heating system.
7. Force Down Warm Air
Denser, cooler air stays closer to the ground, and warmer air rises.
So, force that warm air downward with a low-speed fan.
Reverse the fan’s setting so it sends the warm air upward, as this will distribute it back down the walls to mix with the rest of the air in the room, gradually raising the ambient temperature.
8. Lock it In
Insulate and fill the gaps. Warmed air leaking out around poorly sealed window frames, power sockets, recessed light fittings, and other gaps is a big source of heat loss in homes. Use caulk, foam strips or expanding foam to seal up unwanted holes in your home. Add extra insulation to your home cheaply by layering up stone wool in your attic. Thick curtains help to insulate glass at windows. If your windows are single-glazed, consider sticking transparent polythene film to your internal window frames to act as super-low-budget “double-glazing.”
As temperatures plummet this winter, the right climate control system will help you and your loved ones stay comfortable, lower utility bills and respect the environment.
Submitted by Andy Armstrong