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5 New Year's Resolutions for a More Comfortable Home

Putting weatherstripping on a window.

More than half of us will make some sort of new year’s resolution and fewer than 10 percent will actually follow through.

Why such a dismal failure rate? Maybe it’s because the majority of resolutions have to do with hard-to-stick-to diets or unrealistic financial goals. That’s why we’re suggesting that you instead resolve to upgrade your home for improved comfort and lower energy bills.

Here are five resolutions that you can actually achieve.

1. Schedule a Tuneup

Heating and air conditioning account for almost half of the energy used in a home. Keeping your HVAC system maintained saves energy and money. Major manufacturers recommend preventive maintenance in the spring for air conditioners and in the fall for heating systems. Certified technicians examine, clean, and calibrate each component, including:

  • Refrigerant

  • Condensate lines

  • Coils

  • Fans and belts.

  • Ignition and combustion systems.

  • Thermostat and controls

  • Electrical connections and amperage

  • Ducts

  • Air filter

Tune-ups can reduce energy usage by approximately 20%. Lack of maintenance increases energy usage by as much as 60%. Well-maintained systems last longer with fewer repairs, saving money on replacement equipment and repairs.

2. Use Your Curtains

The Department of Energy states that windows account for approximately 30% of a home's heat loss during winter. During the summer, solar gain makes the air conditioner work harder. Opening and closing window coverings throughout the day can help regulate the temperature in your home.

During the winter, take advantage of the sun's heat and light to brighten and warm your home. Open curtains and blinds during the daytime. As the sun sets, close them to keep in the heat. Properly installed thermal curtains can reduce heat loss during winter by approximately 10%. During the summer, closing draperies during the heat of the day keeps cool air in, reducing heat gain by about 33%.

For best results, install insulated cellular shades. They are made with layers of material that create air pockets that resemble a honeycomb. They are attractive, lightweight, and complement most decorative schemes. They have the highest R-value of all window treatments, reducing heat loss by approximately 40% during the winter and reducing solar heat gain by about 80%.

Use natural light during the day. If needed, augment it with task lighting or area lamps for dark corners or activity areas. LED bulbs use about a quarter of the electricity that incandescent bulbs require and last much longer. LED bulbs are available in several light spectrums, allowing you to choose warm or cool colors suitable for your living or workspace.

3. Weatherstrip and Caulk

Weatherstripping fills gaps that allow conditioned indoor air to escape. Leaks affect comfort and make your HVAC system work harder. Sealing leaks can save up to 20% on heating and cooling bills.

In addition to doors and windows, check places where pipes enter your home and caulk. Electrical outlets are also sources of air leaks. Installing foam insulation pads behind outlets prevents leaks.

4. Install a Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats can cut heating and cooling bills by at least 10% when properly used. You can monitor energy usage and change settings using your smartphone or tablet wherever you are.

To get the best energy savings from smart thermostats, program settings, and leave them alone. Micromanaging settings can result in higher energy use. Ramping up the heat as you return home doesn't heat your home faster. Instead, program the thermostat to turn on before you arrive so your home is comfortable when you enter.

5. Upgrade to an Energy-Efficient HVAC System

If you have high energy bills, frequent repairs, or uncomfortable living space, you may want to upgrade to a more efficient HVAC system. There are many options available, including zoned systems, ductless units, and geothermal heat pumps. Inverter technology and variable speed blowers use less energy to operate and are better at controlling humidity and temperature.

The NATE-certified experts at Earnhardt Heating and Cooling can help you select a unit that works with your budget, lifestyle, and indoor comfort needs. To schedule an appointment, call (336) 814-2613.

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