It’s cold in here! Can’t we turn up the heat a little?
That’s a great question – one that we hear often this time of year. Although it doesn’t seem like increasing the temperature in your home by one degree is much of a change, it is important to realize that there is a cost associated with even the smallest heating adjustment. When you multiply that small change by the volume you are trying to heat (floor space in square feet multiplied by the height of the walls) you realize that you are actually talking about a significant amount of air. Then you have to remember that the air is constantly changing through outside doors opening and closing and normal “breathing” of a building. That requires more energy for heating. Then finally you have to take into account the efficiency of your heating unit (furnaces, boilers, space heaters, log-burning stoves, etc…). All those separate factors combine, resulting in a significant cost to adjust that heat “just a little higher.”
As a company that improves the quality of life by providing integrated facilities management services to partners across the country, including college campuses, corporate buildings, hospitals, retirement communities and K-12 schools, my area of focus, Sodexo uses our talent and expertise to create the optimal environments for our partners’ needs while being as efficient as possible. In doing so, we’ve created some simple tips that homeowners can use to save energy and money during winter months.
First, the most efficient way to heat your home is to set your heating system to between 66 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. You can then use a humidifier set to approximately 40% humidity, and keep outside doors and windows closed.
Doors & Windows
If you have storm doors, do not use them as your primary door. They allow more heat transfer because they are not designed to be your primary door.
If you feel cold air coming from around your doors and windows, apply weather-stripping or use a window seal that encloses the entire window and attaches to the window frame on the inside. If you have storm windows, ensure that they remain closed during the winter.
In preparation for the winter season, have your heating system checked to make sure it is functioning properly. If it is uses gas or heating oil, make sure the burner is cleaned and properly adjusted for greatest burning efficiency.
Heat is moved by the air that is warmed in the heating system. When filters are dirty, they restrict the flow of air and affect the ability of the system to control the temperature. Make sure that you check filters regularly and change as suggested on the label. Clean filters not only save money, improve energy efficiency, and keep temperatures at the right level; they also significantly improve the health of the building.
In addition to thinking about heating-related energy savings in the winter, it is also the best time of year to think about artificial lighting. Since there is less daylight throughout this season, we use more artificial lighting in winter than at any other time of the year. Try using energy efficient light bulbs, specifically compact fluorescent lights (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED). Not only do these types of bulbs use less energy as they operate, they last longer than normal incandescent bulbs.
Have a safe, warm and energy-efficient winter!
Joe Albright is operations vice president for Sodexo Education – Schools.