ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As seasons change and winter weather looms ahead, homeowners throughout the nation are bracing themselves for frigid conditions. With bitter cold temperatures and above-average snowfall predicted for some areas of the country this year, many people are concerned about keeping their homes warm and comfortable without spending a fortune on heating bills. There are several simple steps you can take to keep energy bills low throughout the season, starting with an annual assessment to ensure that your heating system is operating properly and efficiently before the harsh winter weather hits.
Start the Season with Energy Savings
For a smart start to combating winter weather, homeowners should have their heating systems inspected annually by a Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) professional. When selecting a local contractor, it's essential to shop around because not all HVACR technicians offer the same level of expertise. One easy way to verify that a contractor offers quality service is to look for one who employs NATE-certified technicians.
Although the HVACR industry does not require technicians to take mandatory competency tests, many voluntarily undergo testing to obtain certification from North American Technician Excellence (NATE). As the nation's largest independent, third-party, non-profit certification body for HVACR technicians, NATE is committed to industry excellence and helping consumers protect themselves and their homes by connecting them with skilled, knowledgeable professionals.
With nearly 30,000 NATE-certified technicians nationwide, and a convenient online locator at HVACRadvice.com, it's easy to find a professional you can trust to ensure your equipment is installed right and operating properly for maximum comfort, energy savings and peace of mind.
Keep Heating Bills Low as Temperatures Drop
Once you've confirmed that your heating system is running at peak performance for optimal efficiency, there are several easy ways you can keep energy bills to a minimum:
- Clean your heating filters. Check them every couple of weeks and change them at least twice in the season, or as directed by the manufacturer.
- Check and maintain your insulation. Improperly insulated walls, floors, attics, basements and crawlspaces drain away heat and can lead to moisture imbalance. Adding weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors can also go a long way toward improving your home's insulation.
- Turn down your thermostat. Keeping your thermostat five degrees cooler can lower your heating bills without affecting your home's comfort.
- Install a programmable thermostat and adjust the settings to reduce the temperature when you're not at home, such as during the work day.
- Clean the furnace area. Don't keep chemicals or cleaning products near your heater, and don't store anything next to it that could impede ventilation.
- Keep vents and returns free of obstructions. Don't lay carpet over vents, place furniture over or in front of them, or obstruct the flow of air.
- Install a humidifier. Humidity in summer makes you feel hotter, and the same is true in winter since dry air feels cooler than moist air. A simple humidifier may make the home feel five degrees warmer than a home with dry air.
As homeowners continue to adopt green, eco-friendly heating systems, it's important to realize that even the highest efficiency equipment can waste money and energy if it's not properly maintained. By working with NATE-certified technicians to install, service and assess HVACR equipment, homeowners can rest assured that it will deliver the ultimate in energy efficiency.
To find a qualified local contractor who employs certified technicians, look for the NATE logo or go to HVACRAdvice.com.
About North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
Headquartered in Arlington, Va., NATE was founded in 1997 as the nation's largest non-profit certification organization for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians. NATE tests technicians while others train. Testing validates the technician's knowledge and a training program's instruction. NATE-approved testing organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada offer NATE tests. For more information about NATE, visit www.HVACRAdvice.com.
SOURCE North American Technician Excellence (NATE)