9 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill in the Winter

It’s starting to get cooler and in Ohio, we know just how cold it can get. We also know that heating bills in the $300-$500 range can really throw a wrench in your budget. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our favorite ways to save on energy usage and heating bills. By following these simple steps, you could save hundreds during the winter months (while still staying warm!).

How to Reduce Your Heating Bill

Get a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats are cheap and the money you save on your heating bills throughout the season will surely make up for the initial cost. A programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the heat during specific parts of the day, such as during the day while you are at work or at night.

Reverse your ceiling fans

Everyone knows that ceiling fans can keep you cool in the summer but surprisingly, they can also help keep you warm in the winter months as well. Flip the switch on the inside of the fan to reverse the rotation. Kept on low speed, this will push the warm air down towards you so you can set the thermostat a couple degrees lower.

Replace or clean filters

Dirty filters can lead to higher heating costs. Make sure you are cleaning or replacing your filters regularly.

Lower the temperature

Any time you lower the heat for a sustained period of time (even just a couple hours), you are saving money. Throw on a sweatshirt, add another layer to the bed and try lowering the temperature. Each and every degree will save you money on your bill.

Reduce leaks and drafts

Use your detective skills to hunt for cracks and leaks. Light a candle and hold it up to windows and doors. If you see the flame move or flicker, you probably have a leak. Seal these leaks with caulking. Also check under your front door. If you can see daylight, heat is escaping. Buy a draft guard to put under the door to minimize the leakage.

Get a maintenance check

Keeping up with the maintenance of your heating system will ensure it runs as efficiently as possible which will help to save you money in the long run. As soon as it starts to get cooler (or even before), give your heating and cooling company a call to schedule a maintenance appointment.

Use curtains the right way

If windows are facing the sun and it’s sunny out, keep your curtains open. Those rays will help heat up your home naturally, even in the winter. When it’s dark out, keep your windows covered to create an insulation barrier. To maximize the savings, double up on curtains, use Velcro to secure them to the window frame or spring for insulated curtains.

Turn down the water heater

Turn down the temperature on the water heater (ideally it should be around 120 degrees). You’ll notice the lower heating bill before you even notice the couple degree difference.  Go one step further and wrap your water heater in an insulated blanket which will help it to maintain heat.

Seal ducts

Air ducts are prone to leaks and contribute to high heating bills. Sealing and insulating ducts will improve efficiencies which will ultimately save you money (up to $1,000 a year in fact!). Plus, the cost is fractions of what it would be to replace your whole system.

How do you keep your heating bills down in the winter months? Tell us in the comments section below.

Signs Your Furnace is on its Way Out

It’s the middle of winter and you crank up your thermostat only to realize that your house is still freezing. A broken furnace is one of the worst feelings ever, especially on a cold night. How can you tell if your furnace is on the fritz? Below are some warning signs you can keep an eye out for so that you can fix the problem before it happens!

6 Signs Your Furnace is on Its Way Out

Age

Furnaces generally last about 15 years. If yours is older than that, it may be time to start shopping for a new one, before it breaks, so you have time to research the best options. If you don’t know the exact age of your furnace, try locating the owner’s manual or contacting the manufacturer with the serial number.

Utility Bills

As your furnace becomes older and less efficient, it may need to work harder to heat your home. Keep an eye on your monthly utility bills and take note if they are getting higher when you seem to be using the same amount of energy.

Health Issues

Sure, a headache, dry skin and trouble breathing may just be a winter cold but it could also be the result of poor air quality. An old system can release dust and mold into the air that may cause serious health problems.

Uneven heating

Are some rooms in your house always cold while others are always hot? Do you find yourself constantly changing your thermostat? It’s likely your furnace is no longer able to properly heat your whole house.

Recent Repairs

If you’ve had to call an HVAC technician more than you’d care to admit in the past couple years, it’s time to think about a new furnace. Not only does this mean that your furnace’s days are numbered but those repair costs could ultimately add up to the cost of replacing the system.

Strange Noises

As furnaces age, they start to make noises they aren’t supposed to make. Listen for popping, banging and squeaking as any of these may be a warning sign that you’ll be in the market for a new furnace sooner than later.

If you’ve noticed one or more of these warning signs with your furnace, it’s time to call your HVAC company. They will be able to help you determine if it’s time to consider replacing your furnace.

Why Does your AC Unit Freeze in the Summer?

Freezing in the summer. Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? When air conditioning units are working extremely hard to keep your home cool in the warm summer months, they can actually freeze up. There are several common causes for this type of air conditioning freeze up:

Low outdoor temperature

Your unit works best when outdoor temperatures are above 60°F. When temperatures dip, your air conditioner can freeze up. If temperatures get too low at night or at the beginning or end of the summer, your AC unit won’t function correctly.

Refrigerant levels

Refrigerant (or Freon) helps your air conditioner to function. Leaks or low levels of refrigerant can cause a decrease in pressure and can make the evaporator coil too cold.

Insufficient air flow

In order for your system to run properly, there must be sufficient air flow throughout the whole unit. Anything that obstructs air flow to your unit’s evaporator coils can cause it to freeze. Dirty air filters, blocked ducts other obstructions can cause an insufficient flow of air.

Mechanical problems

A broken fan or another mechanical problem could cause air to stop circulating properly.

Fixing a Frozen AC Unit

Fortunately for you, a frozen AC unit is one of the easiest HVAC problems to fix. As soon as you realize your unit is frozen, the first thing you should do is turn off your unit completely to allow it to defrost. After your AC unit is defrosted, there are a couple things you can do:

  • Check your air filter to ensure that it is clean (you should be replacing it every 2-3 months)
  • Remove any visible obstructions such as dirt from the unit or pipes
  • Check your evaporator coil to ensure that it is clean
  • Ensure there is no restriction in air flow around your air ducts and open all air vents

If you find an issue with the filter or an obstruction, fix it and try to turn the AC back on to see if it works properly.

If you can’t detect and fix the problem yourself, it’s time to call an HVAC technician to check for low refrigerant levels, leaks or mechanical problems.

Preventing a Frozen AC Unit

Of course sometimes a frozen unit is out of your control however, there are a couple things you can do to help prevent the problem from happening. First and foremost, only run your AC when the temperature is above 60°F. Ensure you are changing your filters every 2-3 months. Finally, make sure you have regularly scheduled maintenance and inspection appointments with your HVAC company so that they can help to detect problems before they arise.

Benefits of Aeroseal Duct Sealing


Why make your HVAC system work harder than it has to?

Ducts are used to distribute air throughout your house. In many cases, a huge percentage of air that moves through your house is lost due to poorly sealed or poorly connected ducts, forcing your system to work harder to keep your home comfortable.

What is Duct Sealing?

Duct sealing is the process of repairing the leaks, cracks and holes commonly found in ductwork so that less air is lost. The result is lower utility bills, better air quality and a generally more comfortable home.

Benefits of Duct Sealing

Improves air quality

While air escapes from leaky ducts, other things can get in. Dust, mold, chemicals and more can find their way into your ductwork through leaks. When these pollutants get distributed through your home, the result can be a number of health issues.

Saves you money on bills

Properly sealing and insulating ducts increases the efficiency of your system. This results in lower bills (by as much as 30%) and if you plan on installing new equipment, could result in your home needing a smaller, less costly system. Oftentimes, people find that duct sealing pays for itself in energy bill savings.

Makes your home more comfortable

Have you ever noticed some rooms in your house are hotter or cooler than others? Duct sealing helps evenly distribute the air making your home much more comfortable.

Keeps you safe

Leaking ducts can lead to something called backdrafting, where harmful fumes (from kitchen appliances, wood burning fireplaces, etc.) are sucked into your ducts and distributed throughout your home. A buildup of these fumes can lead to health problems for you and your family.

Benefits the environment

Tight ductwork uses far less energy, decreasing the size of your carbon footprint and benefitting the environment.

Crown Group Ohio is proud to be one of the only providers of Aeroseal duct sealing in Northeast Ohio. Aeroseal is the most effective and affordable way to seal ventilation ductwork professionally in homes or commercial spaces. We’ve seen clients save up to $1,000/year in energy costs after Aeroseal duct sealing. If you’re ready to give it a try, call us at 330.499.4988.

Buying a New Home? Don’t Forget to Check out the Heating & Air

Granite countertops? Check. Open concept? Check. Properly working furnace? Uh…

When buying a new home, the HVAC system probably isn’t the first thing you look at. However, repairing or replacing your air conditioner or furnace after putting a down payment on a new house definitely does not sound fun to us. Save yourself thousands of dollars by checking into the following before you purchase your next home.

What to Look for in a New Home’s HVAC System

Age of the System

How old is the equipment? Furnaces generally last about 15 years while air conditioners last about 10-15. If either system is older, you may want to budget a replacement into the cost of your home or see if you can negotiate a deal with the seller.

Damage to the Equipment

Examine the equipment and look for any visible signs of rust, leaks, cracks or dents. Listen for loud or abnormal noises. These may indicate a problem with the unit.

Warranty

If you’re buying a newer house or a home with a new HVAC system, the equipment may still be under warranty. Make sure to ask the homeowner for a copy of the warranty if they have it.

Recent Repairs

Ask about recent HVAC repairs. A lot of repairs could mean that the system is on the fritz. Ask for copies of the maintenance and repair paperwork if the owner has it on file.

Utility Bills

Almost half of your yearly energy bills go towards properly heating and cooling your home. If the current homeowner will disclose it, ask them about their average heating and cooling bills. This will give you a good idea of how efficient the system operates and how much you can expect to pay each month.

Ductwork

If there is any visible ductwork in the home, inspect it. Look for cracks, leaks or rust which will force your unit to work harder than it has to and cost you big on your utility bills. Take note of any rooms that feel hotter or cooler than others when you are touring the home. This could be a sign of poor ductwork.

Insulation and Windows

The insulation in the home and the condition of the windows will drastically impact the cost of your utility bills. Ask about the type of insulation used and inspect the window seals for leaks or cracks.

When you schedule your new home’s inspection, why not schedule an HVAC inspection as well? It could save you thousands down the road. Though a faulty AC or furnace won’t necessarily make or break your decision, it’s good to be aware before you seal the deal on your dream home.