Northerners Faced with Furnace Replacement

Those of us that live in the northern half of the United States endure some of the most extreme winter seasons. Blizzards are not uncommon in Maine or Illinois, and as a result, the heating system is used around the clock during the coldest months of the year, typically October to April or May depending on the year. Heavy use of the heating system not only leads to high energy costs, but it also causes a lot of air pollution.

The combustion process that your heating system uses to create heat for the home pumps out greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Natural gas furnaces may be the cleanest burning units when compared to the alternatives, propane, oil, wood, and electricity, but if your furnace is wasteful with the natural gas it consumes it can still be a major contributor to pollution. Continue reading

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Control Your Energy Costs this Summer

Although this past winter offered Chicagoans a break from the hefty costs of heating a home, there is no guarantee that this summer will do the same. In fact, we can all expect our wallets to become a little lighter at the gas pump because even if home energy costs stay low, gas prices are already expected to soar! Unless you want to sit out in the heat without your air conditioner, now is the time to start beefing up the energy efficiency of your home. Here are two low cost ways you can save big bucks on your cooling bills this summer.

Low Cost Improvements that Lead to Big Savings

  • Seal Your Duct Work: Leaking ducts lose much of the heating and cooling they are trying to pass around the home before it ever reaches its target room. Seal these leaks and your will not only experience increased comfort, but you will also find that your air conditioner uses less energy to keep you cool.
  • Clean Your Air Conditioner: A dirty air conditioner is another source of energy efficiency loss within the home. During the early parts of the summer season, many HVAC contractors offer big discounts to those that get their air conditioner cleaned early on. Take advantage of these discounts and boost your air conditioners efficiency at a very affordable cost.

Any improvement you make to the energy efficiency of your home will put money back in your pocket every month. You may not be able to control the gas prices, but you can control how much energy your home wastes by making green home improvements as soon as possible!

Thermostat Expectations and Misconceptions

Many people will throw on comfortable clothes around the home, but during the winter, there is no need to wear shorts and a tee shirt. If you are doing so because you are warm, turn down the thermostat! If you are cranking up the thermostat to make the home warm enough to wear shorts and a tee shirt around comfortably, you are wasting loads of money and gobs of energy. Throw on a sweater and consider some of these thermostat tips!

Saving Energy by Setting the Thermostat

You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F (20°C) when you’re at home and awake, and lowering it when you’re asleep or away. This strategy is effective and inexpensive if you are willing to adjust the thermostat by hand and wake up in a chilly house. In the summer, you can follow the same strategy with central air conditioning too! You can do this by keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lowering the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. Continue reading