(NewsUSA) - America’s homeowners can expect to shell out more cold cash to keep warm this winter as they face the highest home heating costs in more than a decade -- making optimal energy efficiency more essential than ever.
Here are the financially frostbiting facts: The average cost of home heating is expected to increase by 17.2% since last winter from $1,025 to $1,202, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA). Those who heat with natural gas will confront the largest spike, with their cost predicted to soar 34.3% over last year. Conversely, homeowners who use electric heat are forecasted to see the lowest increase at 6.9%.
The good news is that families can prevent a utility bill blitz by following a few simple tips. With home heating and cooling accounting for nearly half of home energy use, small steps can go a long way.
• Ease Into Electric: According to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, electric systems are a solution to decarbonize home climate control. Among the most energy-efficient heating and cooling products, electricity-powered ductless mini-split systems, offered by companies including Fujitsu General America, can save as much as 25% on your energy bill. Plus, they are effective with temperatures as low as -15⁰F. Mini-splits use thin copper tubing to pump refrigerant from an outdoor compressor directly into an indoor air-handling unit, where the air is quietly distributed to the interior space.
• Get “Smart” About Climate Control: When it comes to smart home temperature control, there are Smart HVAC Systems and Smart Thermostats. Smart HVAC systems have built-in Internet capability and can be controlled directly without additional equipment. Smart Home Thermostats create “smart” systems by enabling remote temperature control via a mobile or Internet-connected device or voice-operated home automation system.
• Voice Your Preference: Take control of your comfort. Most HVAC manufacturers offer apps that enable systems to be controlled from anywhere using a mobile device. Voice-control capability uses digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, to verbally dictate home temperatures. Easily controlling the temperature more closely allows homeowners to be more comfortable and improve energy savings.
• Find Your Efficient Comfort Zone: Many of us live in homes designed for bigger families, but have yet to downsize. If you find yourself using a fraction of your home on a regular basis, consider upgrading to a zoned ducted, or ductless, system. This will allow you to save energy by not heating and cooling spaces where you and your family don’t spend a lot of time. With the need for less cooling and the gain from a more efficient system in the spaces you do still use, you can multiply your savings.
• Try Low-Tech Fixes: Simple changes can have a big impact. Take advantage of the sun’s energy to heat your home by opening your south-facing curtains at sunrise to make best use of “passive solar gain.” Denser, cooler air stays closer to the ground, and warmer air rises. Force it downward with a low-speed fan. Another change you can make is to insulate and fill the gaps. Warmed air leaking out around poorly sealed window frames, power sockets, recessed light fittings, and other gaps is a big source of heat loss in homes. Additionally, thick curtains help to insulate glass at windows.
If you’re looking to freeze out these record-breaking bills, a ductless heating and cooling system is definitely a worthwhile investment. Many Fujitsu systems with the Energy Star rating are more than twice as efficient as the minimum standard set by the government.
To learn more or find a contractor near you, call 888-888-3424 or visit www.constantcomfort.com.