Stock thermostat

In 2018, the United States consumed more energy than before, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Fossil fuels, like petroleum, natural gas and coal, accounted for 80% of the total consumption.

While there are many reasons these energy sources are being used in excess, there is one use the average American interacts with daily – heating and cooling their home.

Steve Smylie, president of Smylie One Heating, Cooling & Plumbing Co. in Bedford Heights and Chester Township, and Tyler Wadsworth, general manager at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling in Solon, said as the weather changes and temperatures fluctuate, homeowners should watch their energy consumption.

“Here in Ohio, there are two seasons, air conditioning season and heating season,” Smylie said. “During the air conditioning season, we’re most concerned about our electric bill. In the winter, those costs switch over to natural gas because most heating systems are natural gas.”

Wadsworth said, “The weather is going to directly affect what you pay for in your heating and cooling bills. The colder the winter, the more you should expect to pay. Your heating system is working to overcome how cold it is outside, and you can imagine it takes a lot of energy to meet your preferred temperature.”

To curb costs, Smylie said there are a few things homeowners can do. The best thing is call in a professional, he added.

“Check things like common-sense items like your filters,” Smylie said. “When your filters are not kept clean or replaced, you can use a substantial amount of energy to sustain temperatures. We also go in and check the efficiency of the products. We also clean the burners.”

Smylie also suggested homeowners explore purchasing humidifiers.

“When we get into winter, homes become dryer and they expand and contract,” he explained. “So, they move from that dryness which makes your body feel colder, therefore you have to turn up your temperatures. If you have good humidity in the house, your body will feel warmer.”

Wadsworth said homeowners should take advantage of setting back their thermostat.

“The most obvious thing is the cooler you can keep your home and still be comfortable, the less money you’ll spend on energy,” he noted. “Even if you set your temperature back a little bit, it’ll have an impact throughout the winter. Also, utilize setbacks when you’re gone. Program it to go back 5 degrees when you’re not home.”

But with setbacks, be aware that this works best for periods out of town or when one is at work. Setting back the temperature when you’ll only be out for an hour or two is more work than it’s worth, Wadsworth said.

“It’s going to take much more energy to recover from that over just leaving it alone,” he added.

During temperature fluctuations, Smylie said the most important thing to find is your comfort level.

“Figure out what that temperature is, set it at that temperature and forget it,” he said. “Personally, when I’m in the shoulder months (outside temps between 45 degrees and 65 degrees), I run my fan all the time. When the fan is running, it’s circulating and filtering the air. When it’s circulating the air, it’s doing a better job of evening out the temperatures.”

Wadsworth suggested individuals use the the sun’s natural heat as well.

“Take advantage of sunlit walls in your home by keeping your windows or blinds open and let that heat come into the home,” he said. “It’s the same thing with the shaded areas, keeping the blinds in those spots closed to keep the heat in.”

But when it comes to the inevitable winter, the professionals offered advice.

“Look into preventative maintenance to make sure all of the components are in alignment and everything is set correctly,” Wadsworth said.

Smylie said, “Don’t procrastinate. Make sure everything is working properly now. Also, make sure your thermostat is changed from air conditioning to heating. We get calls every year with customers wondering why their house is cold and isn’t heating up. We come out and the thermostat is still set to cool.”

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