When your're choosing a fuel source for your home heating system, start with available fuels in your region, because not all fuels are available everywhere and some are cleaner and more efficient than others. Based on your chosen fuel—natural gas, fuel oil, light propane gas, and kerosene are the most common—you can figure out how much heat a gallon will give you and how efficient that fuel is likely to be. Called the standard heat value, the amount of heat a fuel can produce per gallon or cubic foot is measured and reported in Btu (British thermal units). The higher the Btu produced, the more efficiently the fuel burns and the greater its heat value. Fuel oil, for example, has a heat value of 135,000 Btu/gal., while liquid propane gas produces 91,000 Btu/gal. Next you need to plug that information into the furnace selected. How many Btu/hour the furnace or boiler releases determines its output and will help to decide how much furnace you need to heat your space to the desired temperature. This is how the pros size and evaluate your heating needs. Following these formulas, you can plot out your energy usage, optimal furnace size, and desired output, too.
Set the fan speed on high except in very humid weather. When it's humid, set the fan speed on low. You'll get better cooling, and slower air movement through the cooling equipment allows it to remove more moisture from the air, resulting in greater comfort.
During the colder months, keep windows on the south side of your house clean to maximize solar gain.
If you replaced all the windows in your home with Energy Star qualified windows, you could cut your heating and cooling energy use by an average of 15%.
Bigger is not always better! Too large a system costs more and operates inefficiently. Have a professional assess your needs and recommend the type and size of system you should purchase.
Now that the heating season is over, have a chimney sweep clean any fireplaces and flues.
Have a sealing damper installed in your wood-burning chimney system and save energy dollars and eliminate unpleasant off-season odors.
Dirty woodstove glass? Try dipping a dampened piece of newsprint in the fine white ashes after your fire has died. Whipe it onto the glass in circular motions - it works well if the glass isn't terribly dirty to begin with.
Follow these safety tips to protect against CO poisoning: Never use a generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and other enclosed or partially-enclosed areas, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO build-up in the home. Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors. Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for CO alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01). Test your CO alarms frequently and replace dead batteries.
If your home has a boiler system, avoid covering radiators with screens or blocking them with furniture. It's also a good idea to add a reflecting panel behind radiators - you can purchase one at a home center or make one yourself with a plywood panel and aluminum foil.