Heating & Cooling

Heating and cooling your home accounts for about 60% of your energy costs. Making smart decisions about your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning can have a big impact on your utility bills - and your comfort.

Heating

Furnaces

When choosing a new heating system, it is important to buy a product that offers the best possible quality/price ratio within the limits of your budget. Take into account the overall cost of each system you are considering: (purchase price; installation costs; operating costs). Often the optimal choice is the most efficient product. A higher initial purchase price is usually more than compensated by lower operating costs and, in some cases, a lower installation cost.

Heat Pump

If you are exploring the heating and cooling options for a new or existing house, or if you are looking for ways to reduce your energy costs, consider purchasing an energy-efficient heat pump. A heat pump can provide year-round climate control for your home by supplying heat to it in the winter and cooling in the summer. Some types can also provide supplementary hot water heating.

A heat pump works just like an air conditioner, but also provides space heating during the cold seasons. The heat pump is best used in conjunction with your central furnace to provide the required space heating more economically.

In the Winter...

  • Set your thermostat back. For every degree you lower your thermostat, you save 2 - 3% on your energy bill. Turning down your thermostat by 4 degrees at night will save 10% on your bill.
  • Take maximum advantage of the sun's heat and light by opening your blinds during the day when you want to warm the house.
  • Turn down the heat when you're not home. If you are away at the same time every day, try a programmable thermostat.
  • Close doors and heating vents in rooms that don't need to be heated, and install insulation pads behind all electrical outlet plates to prevent air leakage.
  • Replace missing or worn caulk around outside windows and doors to help stop cold drafts and heat loss.

Cooling

Air Conditioning

In summer, high relative humidity, elevated air temperatures, and bright sunshine can sometimes combine to produce an uncomfortable indoor environment. An air conditioning system can provide comfort for occupants by lowering both the air temperature and the humidity level in the home.

Options that are available to consumers include:

  • room air conditioners
  • central air conditioner
  • heat pump

The best choice of system will depend on your circumstances; therefore it is worthwhile taking the time to evaluate your needs. Before starting off, ask yourself if the whole house needs to be air conditioned, or would cooling in one or two rooms be sufficient?

  • Room air conditioners offer an effective, low-cost option to providing comfort in a small space, up to three rooms, with minimum installation effort.
  • Central air conditioners and heat pumps are used to cool the entire living area. Central air conditioners are cooling-only products; whereas heat pumps provide winter heating as well.

In the Summer

Selecting an energy-efficient air conditioner is the first step in reducing your energy costs. Follow the steps listed below for more savings:

  • Set the thermostat at the highest temperature setting for occupant comfort (25.5°C is usually recommended).
  • If the space is unoccupied for more than four hours, the thermostat should be set at about 28°C. Shut off the cooling system when the house will be unoccupied for more than 24 hours.
  • Do not block the air conditioner vents with drapes or furniture.
  • Use continuous air conditioner fan operation only when continuous air movement is needed to maintain comfortable conditions in the room.
  • When you turn your A/C on, do not adjust the thermostat to a colder setting than you need - this will not cool the area any faster.
  • Whenever possible, use fans instead of your air conditioner - fans are cheaper to operate.
  • On hot & sunny days keep the blinds or curtains closed - prevent the sun from heating your home.

Caring for Your Heating & Cooling System

  • Change your air filter regularly
    Check your filter every month - change it every three (at minimum). A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool - wasting energy

  • Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly
    Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.

  • Install a programmable thermostat
    A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you $150 every year in energy costs.

  • Seal your heating and cooling ducts
    Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent.

  • Consider installing ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment
    If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, you should have it looked at by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency heating and cooling units can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.

Looking for Additional Information?

If you are considering purchasing a new heating or cooling system, or would like to know more, the Government of Canada web site has extensive information on this topic available for free. Click here to learn more.

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