During the colder winter months, your energy bills can start to go through the roof. Since you know that heat naturally rises, it’s not uncommon to consider shutting your upstairs air vents to help keep heat produced by your furnace in the lower levels of your home. While this may seem logical at first, the reality is that it’s not an effective strategy for reducing energy costs.
Understanding Your Ductwork Design
When your ductwork was installed, it was done so following a specific guide for your home. This design assumes that every single vent will be left open during the operation of your furnace. When you close off vents in unused rooms, it actually increases the pressure inside of your ductwork system.
This is because your furnace is still working at full capacity and is forcing the same amount of air through vents that are less open. When air pressure rises inside of your ductwork, it tends to force more of your warm air out of any leaks or gaps in your ductwork. While you may think that your ductwork is fine because your home stays warm, that may not be the case.
Most Homes Have Some Duct Leaks
As your ductwork goes through the seasons, it will naturally expand and contract. Over time, this can allow the joints to work themselves loose. This causes unwanted gaps and leaks throughout your ductwork. In fact, it’s been estimated by Energy Star that the average U.S. home loses about 20 to 30% of the air traveling through its ductwork due to holes and leaks.
When you close your vents in some rooms, your furnace works harder to get warm air to the vents that you have open. This, in turn, causes the pressure inside of your ductwork to increase, which allows for more leakage of your warm air. Ultimately, your furnace is going to have to run for longer to make up for all that excess warm air loss in your ductwork. This can cause your utility bills to rise instead of decrease.
It’s also important to note that when pressure builds up inside of your ductwork, it can slow down your blower. This can further reduce the airflow in your ductwork. Again, your blower will have to work harder to deliver warm air to all the rooms with open vents in your home.
Effective Methods for Reducing Heating Bills
Just because closing off vents isn’t an option to reduce your wintertime heating bills, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options out there that will help. One of the most effective methods for keeping your home comfortable while using less energy is running ceiling fans.
During the winter months, you’ll want to run your ceiling fans in a clockwise direction. This creates an updraft that moves warm air that is trapped near your ceiling back down to the floor. This will keep your room feeling warmer without having to increase the temperature on your thermostat. In fact, you’ll likely find that you can reduce the temperature setting on your thermostat while still staying comfortable when you run your ceiling fans. It’s best to have fans in your bedrooms, living room, and kitchen.
If you’re not yet using a programmable thermostat, then it’s time to consider doing so. These thermostats can be easily programmed to reduce the temperature in your home when no one is there. This helps to keep your energy costs down during daylight hours. Additionally, smart programmable thermostats will get to learn your routine and make energy-saving setting suggestions to maximize your heating system’s operation.
One of the biggest drivers of increasing your utility bills in the winter is the cold weather seeping into your home. Take some time to inspect the windows and doors of your home to see if there is cold air coming in. You’ll want to seal up your windows and doors with weatherstripping or another sealant to block that cold air from coming in. Additionally, if your existing attic insulation isn’t up to the recommended R-value for your region of the country, you should consider upgrading. Insulation is a necessity to help create a barrier between the heat inside of your home and the frigid weather outside.
Expert HVAC Services
Markool Heating & Cooling offers expert HVAC services for the whole Frederick, MD, community. We can also assist with all of your indoor air quality and commercial needs. Simply call us today to schedule your next appointment.