August 31, 2016
When it’s sweltering out, it can be hard to remember what the cool winter air feels like. But don’t let the summer heat distract you from preparing for the imminent arrival of New England cold weather. It never hurts to start planning ahead for the season’s change.
Do your windows let in a draft? Cooler weather is right around the corner and evaluating your home’s current state can help you get ahead of the game and reap the savings once the leaves start to fall. The following tips will help you identify the biggest energy saving actions you can take to keep the warmth in, and the cold out.
1. Consider upgrading your old heating system to a modern, high-efficiency unit. Heating your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home – typically making up about 42% of your utility bill. Older, lower efficiency heating systems often have Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings that range from 56% to 83%. Today’s high-efficiency systems have AFUE ratings of 90% to 98.5%. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy recommend replacing your heat pump if it is more than 10 years old and your furnace or boiler if it is more than 15 years old. The Sponsors of Mass Save offer rebates on high-efficiency electric central heat pumps, oil and propane furnaces and boilers, and natural gas furnaces and boilers.
2. Upgrade to a programmable thermostat. Properly utilizing a 7-day programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways to save energy and money. You can adjust the settings based on your family’s schedule, and save energy when you are typically away from home and the heat or air conditioning is not being put to good use. These energy efficient thermostats are easy to set up, can save you 5 – 10% on your heating bills, and are eligible for a $25 rebate.
Want something a little more advanced? You can save even more energy and money by installing a wireless-enabled thermostat. Rebates are available for up to $100 when you purchase and install wireless thermostats. With a wireless-enabled thermostat, you can control your home’s temperature remotely anytime, anywhere — from a computer, tablet, or smartphone – at your convenience.
3. Seal leaky air ducts. First, have an AC Check trained contractor test your duct leakage rate. If your ducts are very leaky, you could be losing 20% or more of your heat into unwanted spaces of your house. To prevent this energy loss, have your contractor seal the seams and connections to accessible ducts outside of your home's conditioned space. An AC Check trained contractor will test your duct leakage rate before and after they're sealed.
4. Insulate your home. Having a well-insulated home will prevent unwanted heat loss throughout your home’s structure by securing leaks, reducing drafts, and helping trap in conditioned air. If you are a residential customer in a 1- 4 family home, you could qualify to participate in the Mass Save Home Energy Services Program and receive an instant insulation incentive worth up to $2,000 on the cost of approved insulation improvements.
5. Replace any drafty windows. Replace any existing single paned windows with ENERGY STAR® certified windows, certified for Climate Zone 5, which stand to lower your home’s energy bill by an average of 12%. These windows are specially manufactured for the New England home to keep the cold air out, as well as shield your home from the summer heat, ultimately lowering your energy bills. In addition to energy savings, any customer financing insulation work with a HEAT Loan can finance up $500 per window of the total installation costs, with a maximum loan amount of up to $10,000 for replacement windows.
Although the late summer weather is some of New England’s best, remember that fall is just around the corner. Take the time to address your home’s needs now to prepare you and your family before winter arrives.
For more simple ways to save energy and money in your home year-round, read other articles on our Mass Saver blog.