It hasn’t really been winter yet in Arlington, has it? Not to worry. The cold weather is coming, so in an effort to help you stay warm and save money on your heating bills we offer a few winterizing tips.
Get Your HVAC Serviced and Winterized
It’s not too late to have your air conditioning and heating serviced and winterized by an Arlington, TX HVAC repair contractor. The really cold weather has yet to arrive.
To being, there’s no telling the amount of wear and tear that your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system has gone through over the brutally-hot Arlington summers.
Having your air conditioner and heater serviced twice a year — once in the spring, once in the fall or the start of winter — is just a good thing to do to make sure all is in worker order and to make any minor adjustments that are needed, which usually are much less expensive than if you wait until the equipment breaks down.
Service checkups are relatively inexpensive. Many Arlington air conditioning and heating contractors run maintenance specials for as low as $40 a visit up to a reasonable $75. Be wary of the super-low offers as they may not cover all that is needed or there may be hidden up-charges. You want to pay for quality air conditioning service and repair in Arlington, not over- or under-pay for it.
Change Furnace Filters
This is so simple to do, yet so many people forget.
There’s really no excuse. The cost of a new air filter is relatively inexpensive — about $10 to $50 per filter, although $100 for two filters can be a bit much to swallow at once for some homeowners.
- Buy a filter (or two) when you’re at a home improvement center in Arlington, Fort Worth, or Dallas, then set it aside. That way a new filter will be available when you need it and you don’t have to “drop the cash” when you don’t have it.
- Shop the internet for low prices, order a value “two-pack,” and set it aside so it will be available when you get around to changing the filters.
- Mark the date with a Sharpie on the filter so you know when it was installed and how long it has been since you’ve replaced it. You can also make a notation in a notes app on your phone or set up a calendar reminder. (But will you remember to look for the note when wondering when the last time was you changed the filter? Will you actually take action when the reminder pops up or will you “get to it later” and just forget? The date always will be on the filter.)
Remember: Dirty air filters restrict air flow, increase energy demand, cost you money, and add wear and tear on the HVAC system. It’s not unlike changing the air or oil filters in your car. You do that, right? So why not inside the home?
Opinions differ over the value of permanent vs. disposable air filters. Some say disposables trap only 10 to 40 percent of debris. Permanent, electrostatic HEPA filters trap almost 90 percent and are better at dealing with bacteria, viruses, pollen, and mold — but cost more. Avoid buying the “HEPA-like” filters as they are often marketing slight-of-hand and less effective.
Even if you splurge on a permanent filter, remember to clean according to manufacturer recommendations, which can be inconvenient if your equipment is in the attic. So climb up, get the filter(s), go outside, wash down with the hose, allow time for drying, then climb up and replace.
Use the Thermostat
Here’s an interesting energy stat: For every degree lowered during the cool months, you’ll save between 1 and 3 percent on your heating bill. This degree (pardon the pun) management is made easier with a programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats are readily available at home improvement centers or from air conditioning repair contractors in Arlington for as little as $50. They are usually easy enough for you to install or can be installed by a technician during a service call or winter/summer checkup.
A family can save as much as $180 a year with a programmable thermostat, not bad considering households spend 50 to 70 percent of their energy budgets on heating and cooling. If you turn the thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours while you sleep under warm blankets, you can save around 10 percent on heating bills.
Reverse Ceiling Fans
Another one of those “duh!” why didn’t I remember to do that moments. Who remembers to reverse ceiling fans? Few people.
Most ceiling fans come with a little switch on the housing that reverses the blades into a clockwise rotation that pushes the warm air (warm air rises) back into the living area. Believe it or not, reversing ceiling fans can cut heating costs by as much as 10 percent. (And for those wondering: counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes.)
Turn Down Water Heater
This is another tip people never think about.
Conventional water heaters are set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but most households only need a setting of 120 degrees to be comfortable. Lower by 20 degrees and save 6 to 10 percent on energy bills.
Use Draft Snakes!
U.S. Department of Energy says drafts waste 5 to 30 percent of energy use. A super-simple solution is to roll up an old, thick cotton towel and place under a drafty door.
A slightly more elegant and nostalgic solution is to bring back the Depression-era Draft Snake, an interesting piece of functional Americana more popular in the North than in a warmer region like Arlington. Even so, it gets cold and drafty here, too, during the winter.
You can buy non-personable, get-the-job done draft snakes, or draught excluders as they are also known, from Amazon or a local DIY box or hardware store in Arlington.
Or, for the more crafty types, you can make personable, often funny Draft Snakes out of scraps of fabric, filled with sand or kitty liter for heft, with either hot glue or some simple sewing. Add googly eyes for a touch of humor. Head over to Pinterest for loads of clever ideas or Good Housekeeping.
If aesthetics are not important for certain parts of the home, roll up old sheets or blankets and place under doors or the base of windows.
Use Plastic or Bubble Wrap to Cover Drafty Windows
Use heavy-duty, clear plastic on the window frame or tape it to the inside of a window frame to help reduce cold infiltration. If sealed tightly, vision will not be hindered and you won’t even know there’s plastic over the window.
A less aesthetic option is to cover your windows in bubble wrap. It may look odd but light will still come through and cold drafts kept out.
Heavy, clear plastic or bubble wrap is available in bulk from DIY box stores, hardware stores, or even office supply stores throughout Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas.
Use a Space Heater, But . . .
When you knock degrees off the thermostat, of course the living area will feel cooler. A winter myth is that portable space heaters are energy hogs. They can be an energy-efficient option when used to heat only a small area, like next to a favorite chair while watching TV or in a small room.
DO be aware of safety when using space heaters: NEVER use with an extension cord, clear a 3-foot clearance zone around the heater, and don’t forget to turn it off.
Avoid Using Wood-burning or Gas Fireplaces
These are popular in Arlington but can add a significant amount to your gas bill if you’re using gas logs.
Fireplaces, whether gas or wood-burning, can be incredibly energy inefficient if not properly monitored or serviced. Make sure the damper is closed snug and no cold-air drafts sneak into the home when not in use.