SPONSORED CONTENT -- (StatePoint) Preparing your home for cold weather can lower your energy bills; promote a more comfortable, healthier environment; and even help banish winter blues. Here’s what to know:
• Call a professional: “Waiting until it gets really cold to run your heater is like not stretching before you run,” says Mark Woodruff, senior product manager, Outdoor Products at Trane Residential, who advises running your heater early in the season for a good hour or so to ensure it’s working. “Scheduling a service appointment now is a much better, and often cheaper option than trying to book an emergency appointment in extreme temperatures or well into winter,” he says.
• Change air filters: For better indoor air quality (IAQ) and to extend the life of your HVAC system, change filters every 30-90 days. If you have pets or household members with asthma or allergies, change filters more often.
• Try zoned heating: Zoned HVAC systems let you keep a consistent temperature throughout your home, or heat one zone for individualized comfort that helps you save energy and directs heat where it’s desired.
• Consider an upgrade: Forty-five percent of Americans deal with “shockingly high” energy bills, according to a Trane Residential survey conducted by OnePoll. A heating equipment upgrade, however, can help you enjoy consistent warmth without wasted energy. Consider the XC95m furnace from Trane. Its AFUE rating of up to 97.3% means nearly all of the fuel it uses goes to warming the home. When paired with the energy-efficient XV20i Variable Speed Heat Pump, you can enjoy the reliability of a hybrid or dual fuel system. To learn more, visit: trane.com/residential
• Set your thermostat: Newer technology can help maximize energy savings. With the Trane Home app, for example, you can program your smart thermostat and control your home’s temperature from anywhere. Its geofencing capabilities regulate temperature based on your location.
• Monitor indoor air quality: In the same Trane Residential survey, 57% of respondents said they suffer from indoor stuffiness and lack of fresh air. Improving IAQ can help alleviate allergy and asthma symptoms and reduce the spread of colds and flu.
First, determine what airborne particles may be negatively affecting the air. You can also contact an HVAC dealer who can test your IAQ and offer recommendations to improve it. They may recommend installing a whole-home air cleaner like the Trane CleanEffects, which is certified asthma and allergy friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and has been documented to remove 99.9% of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus. The Awair Element is a great way to monitor your IAQ by measuring temperature, humidity, etc.
• Assess humidity: Maintaining a home humidity level between 35 and 60% is one key to improving IAQ and ensuring comfort in colder weather. Mold, dust mites and other air pollutants tend to thrive outside that range, and the body’s natural immune system can be compromised in dry air. “Monitor humidity with a reliable HVAC thermostat. Then, manage it with a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier,” advises Woodruff. “These units are installed professionally and tie into your HVAC ductwork system.”
• Check insulation: Poor insulation is an often-overlooked escape route for heat that forces your heating system to work harder. Homes built in the 1970s or earlier should be checked by an expert, as insulation quality has come a long way since then. Also, foam insulation can settle after a year, so it’s best to inspect insulation annually. Certain insulation jobs can be accomplished by a handy homeowner; however, you may prefer hiring a contractor. The average insulation upgrade costs $2,400, according to the National Association of Realtors, but will save on utility costs in the years ahead.
“For many, wintertime is unpleasant indoors and outside. While we can’t control the weather, there are many things we can do to improve conditions at home to feel cozier and more comfortable,” says Woodroof.