Anxious about opening your heating bills this winter? If so, you’re not the only one. Natural gas, which heats about half of all U.S. homes, has nearly doubled in price since this time last year — a fact that will affect many Americans’ finances and decisions about energy spending. Although many homeowners’ utility costs are noticeably higher this year, the reality is that heating bills are often a source of stress, even when natural gas prices are low, and even for homeowners who don’t rely on natural gas for heating.
Luckily, exorbitant heating costs don’t have to be a foregone conclusion. There are several ways homeowners can lower heating costs and reduce their energy consumption, from choosing their heating systems wisely to scheduling regular maintenance to adjusting their HVAC behaviors. Keep reading to learn about two highly efficient heating systems, ways to lower heating bills and how regular HVAC maintenance can help you save money.
Looking for the most affordable heating and air conditioning Reston, VA, has to offer? Look no further than Cardinal Plumbing, Heating & Air. With our regular maintenance, you can spend less on utility costs during the hottest and coldest parts of the year.
What Does Energy Efficiency Mean?
An energy-efficient heating system generates a great amount of heat with little fuel waste. Conversely, an inefficient system wastes a lot of fuel when tasked with heating your home. Fuel waste isn’t just measured by the fuel wasted by the heating system itself, but also the waste produced by the energy harvesting process. For example, an electric furnace doesn’t waste fuel per se, but it wastes a lot of energy if the electricity is generated by burning coal or fossil fuels.
If you’re considering a new heating system, it’s also important to think about operating costs. More often than not, the most energy-efficient heating system depends on the fuel prices in your area, but natural gas is generally cheaper than electricity. The best way to choose a new heating system is to set a budget for upfront costs like purchase price and HVAC installation, as well as operating costs, and then choose an HVAC system that fits within that budget’s parameters.
Energy-Efficient Heating Systems
If you’ve lived in a lot of different types of homes over the years, you’ve probably encountered a variety of heating systems. Heating systems vary widely in their efficiency for multiple reasons, including fuel type. Here are some of the systems you may have encountered:
- Furnace (forced air distribution system)
- Boiler (radiator distribution system)
- Heat pump
- Hybrid heating (heat pump and a gas furnace)
- Ductless heaters (mini-split units)
- Radiant heating
- Baseboard heaters
Electric heating systems, including forced-air furnaces, baseboard heaters and radiant cable heating, tend to be less cost-effective than gas heating systems. If you want the most cost-effective heating or air conditioning Reston, VA, can provide, consider looking into an electric heat pump or high-efficiency gas furnace.
Electric Heat Pumps
If your home’s heating system runs on electric rather than gas, an electric heat pump can be an excellent, cost-effective alternative to an electric furnace. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an electric heat pump could reduce heating bills by 50% compared to electric furnaces. Cutting your heating bill in half could mean huge monthly savings for you and your family.
Electric heat pumps function as both a heater and an air conditioner. In the summer, heat pumps draw heat from your home’s indoor air and deposit it outside; in the winter, heat pumps draw heat from outdoor air and deposit it inside. Heat pumps can be a space-efficient option as they don’t always require ducts. Although they can generally extract plenty of heat in a short amount of time, heat pumps lose efficiency in extreme winter conditions, making them ideal for moderate climates.
High-Efficiency Gas Furnaces
Gas furnaces use the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating system to describe their energy efficiency. When it comes to AFUE, the higher the number, the more efficient the furnace. ENERGY STAR, a government program that promotes energy efficiency, has made a list of 25 gas furnaces with an AFUE rating of 97 or above. Any furnace on this list is highly efficient.
Modern gas furnaces are able to achieve high efficiency for several reasons, including design features like sealed combustion chambers, secondary heat exchangers, direct spark ignition systems and improved filtration systems. If you’re in the market for a new gas furnace, make sure to consult the most knowledgeable experts for heating and air conditioning Reston, VA, can provide: the experienced HVAC technicians at Cardinal Plumbing, Heating & Air. They can help you find a furnace with a high AFUE rating to cut down on heating costs.
Ways to Lower Heating Bills
Even if you’re not in the market for a newer, more efficient heating system, there are still ways to lower your heating bills. Homeowners can cut energy-related costs by correcting bad HVAC habits and by scheduling regular maintenance. If you need to lower your heating bills, try the following:
- Seal up any air duct leaks
- Set the thermostat lower when you’re at work
- Let light in when it’s sunny outside
- Replace the air filters
- Run your ceiling fan clockwise to push heat down
- Seal off unused rooms
- Schedule regular HVAC maintenance
Additionally, homeowners can save a lot on energy expenses by bundling up and running the heating system a couple of degrees lower than they generally would. The new temperature will start to feel comfortable, and the small difference in temperature will make a considerable dent in the heating bill.
One of the best ways to save on energy costs is to schedule regular HVAC maintenance. Homeowners don’t always know what to look for when they’re assessing their HVAC systems, but an experienced technician will be able to tell which issues are affecting the heating bill. Sometimes the issue is as simple as sealing an air duct leak or changing the air filter. Other times, a heating system is so old that buying a new one would save more money in the long run than continuing to use it.
If you find yourself Googling “heating and ac companies near me,” save yourself some time and call Cardinal Plumbing, Heating & Air. Our experienced HVAC technicians are ready to address your concerns and offer smart, affordable solutions. To schedule an HVAC assessment, reach out to us online or give us a call at 703-721-8888.