Closing or blocking vents may actually cost more in energy
Closing off a vent by blocking a register in an unused room is something many people have tried, yet is a poor method for actual energy savings.
With a modern forced-air heating system, the load is balanced through the house. If vents are closed off, then it can throw the balance of the system out of whack because it will have to work harder. Even doors that are closed will still have air moving past them at a slow rate. A cold room that is not getting air from a register will still draw in warmer air from other rooms.
Cranking the thermostat won’t make your house heat up faster
When you are cold, it can be tempting to turn up the heat really high, but it won’t do anything to make the temperature reach a certain point any quicker. You’ll most likely be turning it down after it gets too hot, so why bother?
Scheduling your heating with a programmable thermostat may save you 25% per month or more
If your household has a set schedule of when people come and go, you can find out when to set your heat settings during the day. Lowering the temperature 5-10 degrees for several hours a day while you are away can add up to big savings. These times can be when you’re at work, sleeping or out doing errands. This is especially pertinent for Calgary winters when the difference in temperature inside vs. outside is large.
Thermostats have come a long way in the last few years. No longer as difficult to program, they can do a lot for energy savings. New models like the Nest Thermostat can learn your behavior of when you are home or not. At a cost of around $200, it can pay itself off in only a few months. These newer models also have the ability to enable control remotely with your smart phone.
Old windows can be a significant loss of heat from your home
The efficiency rating of newer windows and doors has gone up a lot in the last few years. During the cold months, one of the biggest causes of heat loss is from tiny air leaks around windows and loose fitting doors. All these small openings can add up to significant losses in heat from your home.
If you have an older home, it might be a good idea to get an energy audit. This is a service where a technician with a heat sensing camera walks around the house, indicating areas of heat loss. This can help to locate areas that need insulated that you might not find on your own.
If windows are seldom used for viewing, such in in a basement, they can be insulated with plastic film. These films go over the interior side of the entire window bay. By creating an air tight seal, they lessen small leaks. This is generally a good option for older basement windows, and the film is not noticeable unless you get right up to the window.
While somewhat expensive, replacing old windows has many benefits. Resale value is added with increased energy savings, and the money saved may pay off much of the cost over a few years.