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Stay warm and healthy, keep heating bills down

October 14, 2009

Courtesy of ARA Content

With the return of colder weather, you may be hesitant to turn on the furnace again—especially if you want to put off winter’s high energy bills. And, as you start shutting the windows to keep out the cold, the quality of your home’s indoor air can make it hard to keep the family healthy, especially when flu season kicks in and allergies act up. But whatever the weather, you have the power to control the world inside your home. Here are some steps you can take to ensure total home comfort and energy efficiency this season.

Make sure your furnace is the right size for your home. Unfortunately, many people have heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment that is too large for their homes, which means they’re paying to heat space that isn’t even there. An HVAC professional can accurately calculate whether your current system is the right size for your home.

The age of your furnace can also impact how much it costs to heat your home. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, it may make sense to replace it with a newer, more efficient model. Manufacturers such as Trane offer furnaces that can save as much as 40 percent on energy consumption. For example, the XC95m is one of the most efficient gas furnaces and the first to attain up to a 96.7 percent Annual Fuel Utilization rating, which is nearly 20 percent higher than the government minimum standard.

Clean the air of pollutants and flu virus. With every breath, your family’s health is at stake. Approximately 87 percent of Americans are unaware of indoor air pollution. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health. Indoor levels of many pollutants may even be higher than outdoor levels. These pollutants include airborne particles that enter your home through the doors, windows and roof from various outside sources including fires, fossil fuel burning in vehicles, power and manufacturing plants and from indoor activities such as smoking and cooking.

Add an extra layer of protection for your family by installing an effective air cleaner. New studies conducted by Environmental Health and Engineering and professors from the Harvard School of Public Health show that installing Trane CleanEffects, a whole-house air cleaner, may help reduce the risk of asthma attack, stroke, heart attack, respiratory disease and other serious illnesses as part of an overall prevention plan. The unit can be installed as an attachment to your furnace. In addition to removing up to 99.98 percent of allergens and particles from the filtered air—such as dust, pollen, bacteria, pet dander, mold spores and smoke, it also removes more than 99 percent of the common flu, or Influenza A virus from the filtered air. Since the swine or H1N1 virus is a form of Influenza A, it can also remove more than 99 percent of this form of the virus from a home’s filtered air.

Take a whole-house approach to heating. There are many additional things you can do throughout your home for winter comfort. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends you keep draperies and shades open on south-facing windows to allow sunlight to enter during the day, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. In the kitchen and bath, turn off ventilating fans within 20 minutes after you’re finished cooking or bathing to retain heated air. And in every room of your home, make sure that all warm-air registers aren’t blocked by furniture, carpeting and drapes.

By taking these steps, you’ll not only keep your home warm, comfortable and energy efficient this winter, but you’ll also gain another precious commodity—peace of mind.

From the October 14-20, 2009 issue

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