You Can Love the Winter Weather with Heating Tips from HVAC&R Society

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This winter is predicted to colder than last year, which means increased heating costs for consumers. However, that cost does not have to be significant with a few energy- and money-saving tips from ASHRAE

Programmable thermostats are inexpensive, reliable and easy to install.

Consumers can feel the warmth in their homes, rather than the heat in their wallets.

As cold weather approaches, homeowners can keep their homes warm in an energy efficient manner.

ASHRAE, a nonprofit building technology society, offers ways to save money and energy during the heating season so consumers can feel the warmth in their homes, rather than the heat in their wallets.

The Energy Information Administration has predicted an increase in heating costs for the 2012-2013 heating season, October 1 until March 31. The average household cost for oil is predicted to rise 19 percent, while natural gas will increase by 15 percent.

This rise in heating costs is due to a predicted return to normal winter weather, as opposed to last year’s mild winter. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) projects temperatures to be 20 to 27 percent colder than last year in the Northeast, Midwest and South.

Space heating accounts for 49 percent of the energy used in residential buildings in the United States. According to professionals in the design community, there are fairly easy ways to save energy.

“Heating your home doesn’t have to be a burden during the winter,” Tom Watson, ASHRAE president, said. “Following a few simple tips from ASHRAE will not only help to keep you warm, but also save money and energy; and with buildings consuming a large portion of U.S. energy, it’s a win-win.”

An easy start to energy conservation is setting your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter. ASHRAE’s residential energy standard, Standard 90.2, Energy-Efficient Design of New Low-Rise Residential Buildings, recommends setting thermostats at 68 F (20 C) when the house is occupied during the day and at 60 F (15 C) at night during cool months. Programmable thermostats can do this automatically and easily. They are inexpensive, reliable and easy to install.    

Other tips include:

•During the heating season, keep draperies and shades open during the day on your southern-facing walls to allow sunlight to enter. Keep them closed at night to reduce heat loss and the chill or draft you may feel from cold windows.

•Install caulking, weather stripping or use spray-in foams around exterior windows and doors or those between heated and unheated spaces (garages, basements, crawl spaces, attics). Read instructions for spray foams carefully. Expanding foams can exert enough pressure to cause doors and windows to jam or stick.

•Make sure supply and return vents, radiators and baseboard heating units are not obstructed by furniture, appliances or other objects and that air can flow freely to and from them. This will maximize the efficiency of your system and help distribute warm air throughout the room.

•Clean or change furnace filters in forced hot air systems once a month or more often as needed.

•Have your heating system maintained and serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions (usually once a year). Dirty filters, coils and fans reduce airflow throughout the system, which decreases performance and can damage your system.

•Check heating ducts for air leaks from joints and holes. Check with your local hardware store for the proper UL certified mastic or tape to use for the particular job.

•Insulate your hot water tank with an insulating jacket according to manufacturer recommendations. Some newer tanks already are insulated, so check product literature to determine if insulation is needed. Insulate the first six feet of the hot water pipes connected to the water heater.

•You can turn down the thermostat in rooms that have all of the following: are unoccupied, can be closed off (closed doors) from the rest of the house or have their own heating zone. However, do not do this if it adversely affects the rest of your system or could lead to freezing water pipes.

Additional tips can be found at

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a building technology society with more than 50,000 members worldwide. The Society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. Through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today.

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