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8 Ways to Save on Heating & Cooling

Did you know that the average American household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills? That's according to Energy Star, the Environmental Protection Agency's energy conservation program. Your heating and air conditioning costs can account for as much as half of that.

The oil or gas burned to heat our home and the electricity used to keep our equipment running can be a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. With these eight simple steps, you can stay comfortable, save money on your HVAC bills, and protect the environment.

1. Keep Heat Out to Lower A/C Bills

During the summer months, keep your blinds and curtains closed and use window treatments over large windows. Blocking the sun's rays will make your home easier to cool and keep your air conditioning system from running so often.

2. Use Nature's Free Energy to Heat Your Home

During winter months, pull back curtains and open blinds to allow the sun to warm your home naturally. Close curtains on the shady side of the house.

3. Leave the Thermostat Alone

Frequently changing your thermostat settings wastes a lot of energy. Consider a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust temps at preset times. When used properly, it can save you money. Change the temperature so that your system runs less when no one is home or everyone is sleeping.

4. Keep Heat or Cool Energy Where It Belongs

Be sure that none of your hard-earned money is being used to keep the attic or crawl space comfortable. Check your ductwork for air leaks and damage.

5. Make Sure Your House Is Airtight to Lower HVAC Bills

Seal air leaks at drafty doors, fireplaces, and windows with caulk or weather-stripping. Also, adding the proper amount of new insulation can pay for itself in reduced heating and cooling costs.

6. Don't Let Expensive Energy Escape

Running your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans too often will cause your heating and cooling system to work harder as it removes comfortable, conditioned air from the home.

7. Keep Your HVAC System Clean

A little bit of dirt can cause major problems. Get in the habit of changing your filters as often as every thirty days. Keep your outdoor unit clean and free of leaves and debris. Invest in a maintenance agreement to ensure the proper operation and highest efficiency of your equipment.

8. Retire Old HVAC Equipment

Is your home's heating and cooling equipment ten years or older? If so, it just might be time to replace your system. Purchase Energy Star qualified products that are more energy efficient.

Arianne Large is an Expert Contributor for Angie's List


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