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Be Frugally Responsible: Part 2

With the historic downturn in the stock market, many families who thought they were sitting financially sound are facing reality. This article will provide tips on how to reduce utility bills, how going green saves you money, and how to avoid major expenses through preventative maintenance on your home.

Money Saving Tips on Your Furnace and Heat Pump

Furnace Tip #1

Change your filter regularly. The #1 reason a natural gas forced air furnace’s heat exchanger cracks is because a dirty filter restricts the airflow too much fatiguing the metal. Having your furnace annually serviced and spending a few dollars a month to replace your filter is a lot cheaper than having to fork over $2,500-$3,500 to replace the furnace. Taking this simple step can prevent your family from being subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning and the resulting hospital bills or worst – funeral expenses.

Furnace Tip #2

Replace your thermostat with a digital programmable model. The cost may be around $30, but you’ll reduce your utility bill by hundreds through a winter season.

Furnace Tip #3

Turn down your thermostat and wear some extra layers of clothing. A few degrees less saves hundreds per year.

Heat Pump Tip #1

An air source heat pump (the one that looks like an air conditioner) is approximately 300% efficient compared to a 95% high efficiency furnace. When your air conditioner reaches the end of its life, you should seriously consider upgrading to a heat pump. They typically cost about $1,000 more than an air conditioner. As long as the exterior temperature is 20 degrees or higher, the heat pump can extract warm air from the outside to heat your home. To find out how much money you can save by upgrading to a heat pump, OPPD has an interesting savings calculator. Go to OPPD.com, click on the Aim Green tab, click on the Heat Pump tab, and then find the “Heat Pump Saves” link. They cover the rebates based on heat pump size. There’s also a downloadable Excel file that will help you figure your savings. Note: the pre-loaded costs are outdated. The pre-filled cost for propane was $0.80/gallon and it gives you the option of going up to $1.20/gallon. The current price is around $1.65/gallon and the winter season of ’07-’08 propane hit $2.00/gallon.

Heat Pump Tip #2

If you live on an acreage or out in the country and are dependent on propane to heat your home, you know the pain of seeing the propane bill. For you, installing a heat pump is a good idea no matter the condition of your current air conditioner. The investment in a heat pump will pay for itself in reduced propane costs in about 3 years.

Heat Pump Tip #3

The thermostat settings on a newer heat pump typically are designed & set based on human comfort. In other words, the thermostat will automatically change between heat pump and furnace to continue to have air flowing through the supply vents that feels warm to the human body. If the temperature in the house drops more than 2 degrees, the backup furnace is programmed to kick in instead of allowing your heat pump to run until it catches back up. Something as simple as briefly opening your front door on a windy day could trigger the propane furnace instead of your money-saving heat pump. Make sure you have the licensed HVAC Technician change the thermostat settings from “Balance point plus 2 degree F droop” to “Balance point only.” (This is for a Honeywell. It might be different for other manufacturers.) With this setting, as long as the exterior temperature is 20 degrees F or higher, the only heat source heating your home should be your heat pump.

Heat Pump Tip #4

If you really want to go hardcore, then turn your heat pump compressor lockout setting down from 20 to 15 degrees. This will allow your heat pump to run until the exterior temperature drops below 15 degrees F. When it’s that cold, you’ll have heated air flowing through your supply vents that feels cool to the human touch, but it’ll still heat your home.

Part 1 / Part 3

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