November weather can keep you guessing in Atlanta and North Georgia. You might be going to the park in shorts one weekend, then shoveling an inch of snow the next. (OK, it’ll probably be more like a quarter inch, but we’ll tell anyone we know up North it was a foot.)
Still, even though the temperatures may keep you guessing day to day, you’ll probably fire up the furnace more than once this month. That can drive your energy usage up and deliver some eye-popping utility bills right around the holidays.
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to save energy this fall, and none of it requires shivering in your own home. You and your family can conserve energy while staying comfortable and preparing for fall and all year round.
Reverse the Spin of Your Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer, but you do have to change the direction they spin in the cooler months. The blades should spin clockwise, from your perspective looking up at them. This will draw cooler air up toward the ceiling and force some of the warmer air down without blowing a cooling draft on you.
Many ceiling fans have a switch on their base to do this. Turn the fan off first and let the blades come to a stop. Adjust the switch, then turn the fan back on. Fans that have a remote control may instead have a “Reverse” button you can push on the remote.
Make the Most of Your Fireplace
Wood stove or gas insert fireplaces are an effective way to help heat your home, and they bring a cozy warmth to any room. Open fireplaces are less efficient, though you can retrofit them with box inserts, tempered glass doors, and special grates or a blower to return heated air to the room instead of sending it up the chimney.
Whenever your fireplace is not in use, remember to close the damper so that warm air doesn’t escape out the chimney. (And always open the damper when you start a fire, so the smoke and other fumes can escape.)
Use Windows Wisely
In cooler months, windows can bring warmth into your home along with light. During the day, open blinds and curtains, especially those that face to the south where the most sunlight will shine in. Close them again at sunset to keep the warmth inside.
If your home doesn’t have modern energy-efficient windows and you aren’t ready to make the investment in replacing them, consider installing cellular (honeycomb) shades or insulating films to inhibit the radiation of heat out through your windows.
Install a Smart Thermostat, or Be Smart With Your Thermostat
This is really a year-round conservation tip, but the newer smart thermostats can save you substantially on your monthly utility bills while keeping you comfortable at home. (The manufacturers’ claims range from 15% to 23% savings, but your results may vary.) Smart thermostats learn your daily patterns, then adjust heating and cooling to save you energy and money.
(We’ll be happy to install one for you.)
Even if you have an older mechanical or programmable thermostat, you can save energy by making smart cool weather choices. Consider turning your thermostat down to 68° when you’re at home and awake, and 7-10° lower when you’re away or asleep. (Cooler temperatures are better for sleeping anyway.) According to the Department of Energy, this can save you as much as 10% on your heating and cooling costs.
Check Your Insulation and Sealing
We have a lot of beautiful old homes here in Georgia. (Plenty of nice new ones too.) Most of them were built long before we all got serious about energy conservation. Has your home’s insulation been upgraded to modern standards? Good insulation can save you a lot on your energy bills and make your home more comfortable too.
While preparing for fall, it’s also a good time to check around the edges of exterior doors, windows, and fireplaces for any gaps letting hot air out and cold air in. Look for light shining through and feel for drafts. Seal any gaps with weather stripping, caulk, or, if the gaps are large, expandable insulation foam. It can save you up to 10% on your energy bills.
Inspect and Maintain Your HVAC System
HVAC maintenance is one of Energy Star’s top fall tips for saving on your utility bills while keeping your home comfortable. You should inspect your furnace’s air filter at least once a month and change it no less than every three months or whenever it is visibly dirty. Dirty filters force your heating system to work harder to blow warm air throughout your home, and this drives up your energy costs.
Energy Star also advises an annual professional inspection and tune-up. A well tuned HVAC system will run more efficiently and keep your home reliably comfortable. Regular maintenance may also extend the life of your system.
(So consider scheduling that tune-up today.)
A qualified heating and cooling expert will inspect your ductwork, furnace or heat pump, blower, and all other components of your system. They’ll clean dirty components, replace worn parts before they break, and may recommend additional measures such as better insulating and sealing your ductwork.
Enjoy the Season by Preparing For Fall
Autumn in Atlanta and North Georgia is a wonderful time of year. Whether you’re outside enjoying the crisp days or staying cozy at home, enjoy the season in comfort while saving money too. Give us a call to schedule your HVAC maintenance or have us install a smart thermostat today or if you have any more questions about preparing for fall. We look forward to hearing from you.