Winter means more time is spent indoors, and your heating bills go up. If you only prepare for the colder months by turning a dial or flipping a switch, then your’e doing your home and budget a disservice.
Every HVAC unit needs regular maintenance, such as cleaning and changing filters, and a yearly tuneup is also a good way to encourage efficiency.
But three common mistakes might cost you more than you should pay to keep warm until spring arrives again.
Warm Rooms at Night May Cost More than Money
Almost everyone wants a warm, cozy home when the temperature dips outside, but a too-warm home at night can cost you sleep as well as extra money.
The National Sleep Foundation says that although experts disagree on the precise temperatures that are best and worst for sleep, they do agree that a cooler bedroom is conducive to more restful sleep.
When it’s time for bed, turn down the thermostat to a setting that’s noticeably cooler than in the daytime.
This doesn’t mean you have to be cold; wear warmer pajamas and use quilts to keep chills at bay. You’ll not only save energy and money on wintertime heating bills, but you’ll also sleep better.
A Space Heater Isn’t Just a Space Heater
There are two kinds of space heaters, explains the Washington Post. Convection heaters, such as oil-filled electric radiators and ceramic heaters, take longer to warm a room, but they’re fairly efficient.
Radiant heaters are the kind that glow hot and sometimes blow warm air into the room. They give fast heat in a small space, but aren’t the most efficient if you need to use them often.
Pick the wrong one for your needs, and your bills may go through the roof.
To warm a room that has insufficient ductwork, a convection heater such as an oil-filled radiator might be a great choice.
Once the oil heats up, the heater can cycle off for a while because the oil holds the heat. But if you need quick heat and won’t need it for long, the time it takes for the oil to warm can use more electricity than you’d like.
A radiant space heater uses electricity continually while it’s glowing or blowing out heat, so long-term use isn’t as efficient.
But unlike a convection unit, the space warms quickly, which might be better for short-term use, such as warming up a reading nook for an hour.
Less HVAC is Sometimes More
If one HVAC unit is plenty to heat your home in winter, then a more powerful unit must be better, right? Not usually. It’s smarter to buy the right-size unit for your home and climate.
When you install a unit that’s more than you need, you’ll pay a lot more on the front end. But you’ll also pay more down the road.
This Old House explains that an oversize unit cycles on and off more frequently, so parts wear out faster. Frequent cycling also reduces the appliance efficiency, so you’ll consume more energy.
Instead of using the “bigger is better” mindset, choose a professional HVAC installer who will not only consider the climate where you live and the size of your home, but also the efficiency of your home at reducing heat transfer.
Heat transfer means how much heat escapes in winter, or enters in summer. Your HVAC unit should be just enough to meet the demands on the coldest day of your usual winter, and no more than that.
Heating and cooling demand a lot of the appliances that you choose, and of your bank account. So if you’d rather stay comfortable while saving money, you’ll need to do some homework.
No one wants to be uncomfortably cold in order to save a few dollars. With the right approach and the best appliances for your needs, you won’t have to.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.