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For most of us, utilities are the biggest monthly expenditure after vehicle and mortgage payments, which should make them a cost savings target. But how can you save significant money on utilities? After all, you can’t negotiate better rates with utility providers. True, but you can make decisions that impact how those rates add up. Below, we list six ways to reduce residential heating costs.

Consider a Heat Pump Instead of a Furnace

If you live in a warmer climate, you may be able to reduce your annual heating bill by opting for a heat pump, which produces roughly three times more heat energy than it uses electric energy. Despite their name, heat pumps offer both heating and cooling. In the summer, they move warm air from a building’s interior to its exterior, and during the winter the process is reversed. Because cold air still contains heat, heat pumps are able to extract it and use it to heat your home.

Implement More Energy Efficient Windows and Doors

If your house has old windows and doors, chances are that they were designed prior to the current standards in energy efficient design, making them a prime candidate for replacement. Replacing old doors and windows lowers utility bills by keeping warm air in and cold air out, a simple solution that causes furnaces, heat pumps, or radiators to use less energy. Replacing old windows and doors can also improve the value of your home.

Consult with Heating Contractors About Duct Repair and Furnace Repair

If your heating costs keep rising because you need to set your thermostat higher and higher to achieve the desired effect, you may have a problem with your furnace or your ductwork, both of which can usually be resolved by repairs instead of replacement. Over time, furnaces experience worn or broken parts like other machines, and ductwork can gradually lose its seal, causing warm air to fill walls and ceilings instead of being forced toward the intended locations.

Implement a More Energy Efficient Boiler

Boilers that were designed under old efficiency standards typically have an electricity to heat conversion ratio of roughly 65 percent, while today’s most efficient boilers have a conversion ratio of roughly 90 percent. Most boilers last a long time. But if your old boiler is kaput, replacing it with more efficient one will immediately start to impact your annual utility bill.

Improve Your Home’s Building Envelope

A building envelope is insulation that rests between a building’s interior and exterior walls. Building envelopes vary widely by climate, but in all cases, they cut down on your utility bills by helping your dwelling to retain its desired temperature for longer periods of time, thus easing the burden on your heating and cooling elements. Most heating contractors should be able to advise you on building envelopes.

Only use Your Fireplace for Special Occasions

If you have a steady supply of free firewood, burning it in your fireplace might seem like the cheapest way to heat your home. However, while fireplaces heat the rooms where they reside, they can create a vacuum that draws heat from the rest your dwelling, hence the reason for a fireplace in every room of houses built prior to furnace and radiator heat.