5 ways to cut your winter heating costs and save money

There’s nothing quite as annoying as an unexpected, high utility bill. It’s why most homeowners are looking for ways to make their homes more efficient. You can cut your winter heating costs by both improving the efficiency of your HVAC systems and your home. In this article, we’ll review the 5 best ways you can lower your heating bills and use your furnace or heat pump less. Here’s what you need to know:

Cut your winter heating costs by adding attic insulation to your home.

By adding attic insulation to your home, you can cut your winter heating costs significantly.

#1. Schedule a heating tune-up

Start with a seasonal heating tune-up. Annual maintenance is critically important to your heating system. Not only does a professional tune-up and inspection help keep the system running right, but it also makes it run more efficiently. During your maintenance appointment from our team here at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we will thoroughly inspect and clean the system, adjusting comfort settings as needed to ensure that its running at its maximum efficiency.

#2. Get a home energy audit this winter

Unfortunately, many homes here in the Bay Area were not originally built with energy-efficiency in mind. As a result, much of the cooling and heating in your home ends up being wasted, most of it as it escapes through the attic, walls, or through gaps underneath doors and windows. The good news is that you can cut down on this waste by scheduling a home energy audit with our team.

During your professional energy audit, one of our technicians will measure different areas of your home for energy waste. They will also inspect your ducts, thermostat, and more. At the end of this process, we provide you with a detailed report on how your home is using—and not using—the cooling and heating created by your HVAC systems. You can then use this report to start making your home more efficient, which might include some of the steps to follow.

#3. Upgrade to a smart thermostat

Smart thermostats—known by some as “programmable thermostats”—are an awesome step forward that is making it easier for homeowners to track and reduce cooling and heating waste. These thermostats automate temperature changes in the home depending on the time of day or whether or not someone is home. This eliminates the need for you, the homeowner, to remember to turn the thermostat down and up at different points during the day. All told, a smart thermostat helps the average homeowner reduce their cooling and heating costs by 10%. That may not sound like much, but these year-round savings can really add up.

Before you purchase a smart thermostat, be sure to check with your utility company here in the Bay Area to see if they offer any special incentives, rebates, or programs with your purchase. Some utility companies have special flex utility pricing for homeowners who join a peak hours use-reduction program.

#4. Add attic insulation

Many homes here in California do not have sufficient attic insulation, which is one of the leading causes of energy waste. As heated air travels through the ducts of your home in the winter, it begins to rise and escape from the ductwork. Without insulation to trap it inside of the house, that heat rises straight through the attic and roof, which means your heater has to work even harder to generate enough heat to change the temperature of your living room, kitchen, or bedroom.

By adding more insulation, you can prevent this energy loss. Be sure to check out this guide to get an idea of what type and amount of insulation you need. Here in California, we don’t need as much insulation as in colder climates.

#5. Reduce your use to cut your winter heating costs

So far, we’ve discussed how to increase the efficiency of your home and cut down on waste. However, you can and should also make an attempt to reduce your heater use. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Lower the temperature: For every degree you set the thermostat lower, you can reduce your heating bill by 1-3%.
  • Sleep through it: When you’re under blankets and asleep is the perfect time to have your smart thermostat set the temperature a bit lower.
  • Increase the humidity: Our winters here in the Bay Area can be dry, and dry air retains heat worse than humid air. Use a humidifier to balance the air inside your home, and you’ll feel more comfortable at lower temperatures.

For even more tips that will help you lower your winter heating costs, call us. At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we provide expert heating maintenance, repair, and system replacement services throughout Hayward and the Bay Area. Our professional technicians can help you find ways to lower your electric bill and save money in your home.

Here are the 5 best ways to conserve water in the home

As every homeowner here in the Bay Area now knows after years of drought and intense fire seasons, water is our most precious commodity. It can never be taken for granted. It’s the duty of every homeowner here in Hayward and beyond to take steps to make their home more water-efficient and conserve water. In this article, we’ll review 5 of the best ways you can cut down on your home’s water use.

Install a low-flow showerhead to conserve water while showering.

You can conserve water while showering by having our team install a low-flow showerhead.

#1. Install a low-flow showerhead and limit shower times

Most Americans use about 17 gallons of water when they shower. Here in California, that’s a lot, considering our climate and state of drought. By installing a low-flow showerhead, you can cut that number down to 10 gallons per-shower or even less. That’s 7 gallons of water saved with every shower—over the course of the year, a major improvement.

Of course, a low-flow showerhead will not have much of an impact if you and your family still continue taking 20-minute showers. Our recommendation is that you streamline your shower down to 5-7 minutes. This should give you sufficient time to get clean without wasting water and time. The shower is a place for deep shower thoughts—keeping close track of time, not so much! A shower timer or simple 5-minute hourglass can really help keep you moving.

#2. Upgrade to a dual-flush toilet

Older toilets used water without much thought for conservation. If your toilet predates the 1990s, chances are that it uses as much as 3.6 gallons per-flush! We recommend that you have the ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing team install a new dual-flush toilet in your home. Dual-flush toilets are a versatile, alternative option to low-flush toilets in that they have two separate flushes for different purposes. The smaller flush uses only about 1.5 gallons with every flush—less than half that of a standard toilet flush.

Thinking about switching out the toilets in your home? Give us a call. You’ll want a plumbing specialist to take measurements and ensure that your bathroom can fit the toilet—or toilets—you’re thinking about buying.

#3. Avoid automated watering

Yard irrigation makes our lives a lot easier, but it often results in habitual water waste. For example, very few homeowners bother to turn off their irrigation on days where it rains. In many cases, your trees, bushes, plants, and garden are actually getting more water, more frequently, than they need. By switching to watering by-hand with either a hose or a watering can, you’ll cut down on this waste. Of course, your automated irrigation is still nice to have for times when you’re away or at work.

You can reduce the overall watering you need to do by switching the trees, plants, and shrubs in your yard from thirsty imported species to drought-tolerant ones native to the climate of the Bay Area. This is a great change that yields long-term water-saving results for your home. It’s one of the best ways to conserve water for years to come.

#4. Capture and reuse cold water from the shower

Everyone does it: you turn on the shower, set it to hot, and then walk away for a minute while the cold water is flushed out and the hot water arrives. Meanwhile, you’re wasting gallons of otherwise good water. One option is to step into the shower while it’s still cold, but that’s rough to do in the winter. Instead, try this: get a large bucket and position it underneath the showerhead. As the water warms up, the bucket will fill with cold water. You can then move the bucket and take your shower. The next time you need to water indoor plants, clean your floors, wash your car, or fill pet water bowls, use the water from the bucket.

#5. Proactively deal with leaks and water waste

One final way to conserve water: fixing indoor and outdoor leaks. A leaking pipe might not seem like that big of deal, but the cumulative water wasted throughout the calendar year can be mind-boggling. For example, a faucet that drips at a rate of 20-times per-minute will waste 700 gallons of water every year. You can find even more ways to cut down on your water waste with this online calculator.

If you notice that you have a leak or drip in your home’s plumbing, bring in the plumbing professionals at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. We’ll quickly make the fix, helping your home conserve water and avoid future water damage.