Warm Home

Warm Home

Heating costs are typically the largest energy-related expense in the home.

You have a lot of options when it comes to keeping your home warm, and some equipment can use a lot of electricity. The BED Energy Services team is here to help you understand energy costs associated with home heating, and can assist you with reducing the amount of money you pay to stay comfortable during cold weather.

Contact our Energy Services Team with your weatherization and heating system questions today!

Hot Tips

Stay warm and save money during cooler months with these recommendations.

  • Weatherize Your Home – The amount and quality of insulation and air sealing in your building greatly affect the runtime of heating equipment and a leaky home can result in higher heating bills.
    • Learn more about strategies and rebate programs on our Weatherization page. From small DIY projects to deep energy retrofits, we have solutions to help keep your bills low and your feet warm this winter.
  • Avoid Using Space Heaters – Avoid using electric space heaters to improve comfort as there are often better ways to solve the underlying issues causing cold spots in a home.
    • Using a 1,500 W electric space heater for more than 8 hours a day could add over $100 to your monthly electric bill for residential customers on BED’s standard residential rate.
  • Maintain Your Heating System – Maintain your furnace, boiler, radiator, and/or heat pump so it can operate most efficiently. Consult equipment manuals and follow manufacturer-recommended maintenance activities for best results.
    • Check out our tips below for maintaining heating systems to improve comfort.
  • Check Your Thermostat Settings – When you’re home, set your thermostat for heating at temperatures lower than 70 F. This is more energy efficient than setpoints greater than 70 F. When you’re away, set your thermostat to temperatures lower than 65 F to reduce your electric bills.
    • You can save 1% in energy bills for every one degree you turn your thermostat down over an eight-hour period. This can add up to very big savings on your energy bill.
    • If you set the thermostat back three degrees all day, every day for a month, you could save 9% on your electricity bill.
  • Install and Use Programmable Thermostats – Never worry about forgetting to turn your furnace or boiler off. A programmable thermostat always remembers and you’ll notice the savings right away.
    • Smart thermostats have additional features like “machine learning” that deduce and update occupants’ schedules and behaviors, and make predictive adjustments to the home’s temperature to optimize comfort.
    • Smart thermostats connect to a home’s Wifi network, and allow the home’s temperature to be remotely monitored and adjusted via an app so occupants can make changes on their mobile phone.
    • You can receive up to $100 in rebates for smart thermostats through our partnership with Efficiency Vermont.

If these steps don’t produce the desired results, keep reading. Contact BED Energy Services at 865-7362 to schedule an energy audit so we can help you investigate heating system and weatherization issues.

Maintenance Tips for a Warm Home

A comfortable home in winter can be achieved with some thoughtful maintenance of your heating system. Check out the suggestions below for improving the efficiency of your furnace, boiler, baseboard radiation, and heat pump system.

Preventative Maintenance

  • Inspecting Equipment – Have you had your HVAC system inspected recently? Schedule preventative maintenance visits to keep your equipment running safely and efficiently.
    • If your last inspection and efficiency test for your furnace or boiler is over two years old, call a qualified inspector now.
  • Arranging a Heating System Audit – If recommendations below don’t produce the desired results, have an experienced and BPI-certified Heating Professional inspect your whole heating system.
    • Call the BED Energy Services team at 865-7362 to get help with selecting a contractor.

Furnaces and Ductwork

  • Cleaning Furnace Air Filters – Is your furnace in clean, working order?
    • Dirty air filters reduce airflow and put strain on your home’s HVAC system. Clean or replace the furnace air filter regularly to help improve airflow; this can reduce energy consumption by 5-15%!
      • Some filters are made of plastic mesh and are reusable, but are less effective at removing particulates.
      • Most pleated filters should be replaced after three months or after they are dirty. Air filters are rated using the MERV scale.
        • The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter removes particulates from the air. However, higher MERV ratings can put additional strain on the HVAC system.
          • Lower quality filters, in the 1 to 4 MERV range, are typically made of fiberglass.
          • MERV ratings from 7 to 12 are recommended for most residential HVAC systems.
          • Higher MERV values of 5 to 16 are recommended for commercial buildings.
          • Anything above a 13 MERV rating is considered to be a High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter; these types of filters are often used for research and healthcare applications.
  • Cleaning Vents – Are the registers and grilles (supply and return air vents) free from obstructions?
    • Be sure that the hot air supply registers and return air grilles are not covered by rugs or furnishings or obscured with pet fur, as the effectiveness of the furnace is reduced and requires the unit to work harder and consume more energy.
  • Air Sealing and Insulating Ductwork – Is your supply ductwork leaky? Does air leak from ducts? You can lose up to 30% of your heat through leaky and uninsulated ductwork.
    • Seal ductwork seams with HVAC foil tape appropriate for your ductwork type. Conventional plastic ‘duct tape’ is not suitable for this application.
    • Insulate existing ductwork with insulated duct wrap which should increase R-value to at least R-6.
  • Adjusting Ductwork Dampers – Do you have ductwork? Are there dampers in your ductwork? Are they adjusted to provide sufficient supply airflow?
    • Dampers are metal flaps in your ducts that can be adjusted to change airflow through the duct.
      • Make sure that the dampers in the ductwork are adjusted to provide proper airflow to the spaces in your home.
    • Do you have return ducts in your ductwork? Do you have return grilles in each room? Are they adjusted to provide sufficient return airflow?
      • If you do not have return grilles in each room, or do not have return ductwork in your home, undercut your interior doors by at least 1 inch to allow for air to flow out of the room.
      • If you have dampers in your return ducts, adjust dampers appropriately to provide adequate return airflow to the furnace; this increases efficiency of the furnace and improves air mixing in rooms.
    • Consult with a building performance contractor or trained HVAC professional to get advice on specific adjustments for your dampers and ductwork.

Boilers & Hot Water Systems

  • Preventing Frozen Pipes – Do your pipes sometimes freeze? Keep pipes warm without using energy.
    • Prevent cold air infiltration to reduce risk of freezing pipes.
    • Wrap hot water pipes in insulation to reduce heat transfer and save money on energy bills.
      • This is a much cheaper solution than using electric heat tapes to keep the pipes thawed; these cost $3.50 each day to run.
    • When wrapping pipes, ensure insulation is continuous. Wrap pipes from the boiler to where the pipes enter your walls.
  • Maintaining Hot Water Baseboard Radiators – Sufficient airflow across radiator fins is necessary for energy efficient operation.
    • Do not obstruct your radiator. Keep items at least 12 inches away and do not block radiators with furniture.
    • Ensure that the airflow dampers (the movable metal flaps) are open wide enough to allow an air to flow over the fins in the heating device.

Heat Pumps

  • Maintaining Heat Pumps – Is your heat pump in clean, working order? The difference between the energy consumption of a well-maintained heat pump and a severely neglected one ranges from 10% to 25%.
    • Routinely
      • Clean or change air filters once a month or as needed.
      • Clean outdoor coils whenever they appear dirty.
      • Turn off power to the fan and clean it.
    • Annually
      • Remove vegetation and clutter from around the outdoor unit.
      • Clean supply and return registers as needed.

Heat Pump Rebates

Heat pumps provide energy-efficient heating (as well as air conditioning) and can be more energy-efficient than legacy furnaces and boilers. Ground-source, geothermal heat pumps are the most energy-efficient heat pump solution and have the lowest operating costs, saving money over all fossil fuel heating system options.

BED offers rebates for many heat pump systems for single family homes, multifamily buildings, and communities. Call the BED Energy Services team at 865-7371 with your project-specific questions.

More About Heat Pumps