Stopping Inflation From Robbing You This Winter

ByMarc Silberberg


Now that the elections are over no one can deny the fact that inflation is affecting everyone and everything from the eggs in the supermarket to the filters in your HVAC systems. But we can attempt to keep those costly repairs at bay by using some tried and true steps to keep your heating system from absorbing your precious dollars.

We all know the story that when a major appliance breaks, we are at the mercy of time and our trusty repairmen. I don’t know what is more dire, a broken dryer or a failed heating system in the winter. Both affect our loyal families negatively and no one wants crying children complaining that they can’t get out of bed in the morning because it is too cold in the house. It would be prudent to purchase an inexpensive but safe portable heater to keep in your garage in case of an emergency, however, it is wise to check your heating system before the winter chill hits.

With prices running rampant due to runaway inflation, folks are looking for ways to save and conserve their hard-earned funds. Just last week my friend informed me that she had been out of the country for ten days only to come home and be shocked at how the supermarket prices had risen in such a short time span. Her favorite ready-made and checked fresh spinach were placed in a smaller plastic container than before she left so that the store would not have to raise the already upscale price on such a coveted item. It’s worse than the trick that sugar companies used beginning several years ago, when changing from the historic five-pound bag to a four pounder. Your heating system is no less a candidate and culprit for these unbelievable price increases even though you have not received your heating bill as of yet which will reflect the increase in charges for your HVAC system.

Some folks mistakenly believe that just like bears, squirrels and other animals hibernate in the winter so we can leave our central air conditioning at peace during the cold months of the year. This could not be further from the truth even if your air and heating systems are not united in one HVAC unit, we must still check on the different parts of the AC unit both indoors and out.

Before detailing ways to save money on winter fuel costs, let’s just give you two important prompts to keep your central AC from costing you money come the spring. First of all, even if your AC is off, the filters must be checked so that the water condensation will not cause leaking, damaging your new carpets or floors. Always make sure that you still check your filters monthly and more often if you see tiny drops descending from the ceiling units.

Secondly, how are you treating your outdoor AC unit? You may forget to cover your barbeque come the winter, but a barbeque costs a few hundred dollars while your AC unit costs thousands and if it is ruined there are other parts that will go as well. Of course, it all depends on how cold it gets in your location and some folks choose not to cover their outside AC unit and that’s fine. You must check it during the winter to make sure that the snow did not penetrate the coils and other sensitive parts and that strange creatures have not taken up space in the AC unit.

Easy Hints That Will Keep Your HVAC in Good Shape This Winter

1: Ask your energy company to come in and check your units and some providers offer energy audits. Depending on a person’s income there are discounts for low-income families who consider heating their homes during off peak hours of the day. Energy provider audits will specify where the problem areas in your home are and may offer discounted ways to fix them.

2: Identify the ways to keep costly heat from escaping from your home. Simply weather stripping or caulking your windows and doors as well as any leaking air pockets from electrical wiring and plumbing is a good start. For example, under the kitchen sink is a place where the area around the pipes might have cold air entering. By opening up closets and kitchen cabinets when the cold hits will enable you to tell where the drafts are coming from and easily close up those open spaces.

3: We all want to be as warm as possible but high indoor heat is drying and a breeding ground for certain viruses and bacteria. By decreasing the temperature in your home by seven to ten degrees during an eight-hour period either during the night as the family sleeps or day when no one is home, can save a homeowner as much as ten percent off their heating bill. Energy companies can provide you with a programmable thermostat that will change the settings automatically.

4: The Inflation Reduction Act gives rebates of up to $8,000 to replace an old furnace with a heat pump. This type of system will make sense only for someone who has to replace their furnace anyway as it is costly. Switching to a heat pump from baseboard heating can save a homeowner as much as $1,287 yearly.

A typical heat pump can be used for both air conditioning and heating without using fossil fuel so it is environmentally friendly. In the winter the heat pump will pull heat from the outside and move it indoors while in the summer it will use the indoor air to cool the home using a refrigerant.

5: It is quite necessary to schedule a yearly maintenance visit for your HVAC system which will save you several hundred dollars a year. The company expert will be able to change the filters and make sure they are the correct size to work most efficiently, and this checkup will most likely decrease the need for emergency costly repairs.

6: If your house has a fireplace make sure that the flue is tightly closed since this is an easy way for cold air to creep in. Of course, if you are using your fireplace to keep warm that is another story. Who does not look forward to those cold winter days sitting around the fireplace especially during holiday times and sipping hot cocoa? For this reason, yearly maintenance of a working fireplace is a must even if you must say yes to those pesky cold callers offering chimney cleaning. Seriously, don’t use anyone but get a recommendation from a neighbor or friend.

The way a typical fireplace works is by creating a column of heated gas inside the chimney. The heated air rises which is called a draft as more heated air is being pulled up from the fire. So it’s very important that before you buy your logs and hot cocoa that you make sure all is well with your fireplace.

Final Words

For many folks winter conjures up playing in the snow and cuddling around the fireplace with hot cocoa and roasting marshmallows. Unfortunately, this winter, because of inflation, many homeowners will struggle to pay their home heating bills. To prevent any sad surprises such as furnace breakdowns and drafty windows and doors, the smart homeowner will start immediately to prevent unforeseeable problems with keeping their house nice and warm. The saying, “There’s no such thing as bad luck, only poor preparation”, is quite pertinent to the planning of a peaceful and warm winter at home.

If you are like many of us, your budget is suffering from inflation and there are several ideas to keep your home heated frugally. By having a yearly maintenance check (and some people have a contract with their energy provider) you can be assured that your heating system will function efficiently. You may find that certain rooms are colder, and others are warmer so check out the reasons that this is happening. There are programs that will give you money to blow insulation into your walls and you will be able to tell which rooms need such a rehab when you feel the cold air in certain rooms. A temporary solution would be to buy a couple of safe portable heaters to warm up those extra cold rooms. I have one that looks like a baseboard heater and is quite safe but of course you must do your own checking.

So, let’s all be thankful that we can look forward to a healthy winter with our normal indoor and outdoor activities even with inflation snatching some of our money. Let’s enjoy the winter surrounded by those people we love and let’s have those emergency supplies handy and hopefully we will not need any. I hope all would agree that inflation is still not as bad as the pandemic of the last few years when each of us was sitting around our fireplaces or kitchens alone with no one to talk to or hug.

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