Heating is the single largest use of energy in your home. Find out how to tune up existing units and about incentives for buying new units.
Heating is the single largest use of energy in your home.
Heaters use electricity for the fan, and fuel for the heat, typically either electricity or gas. With proper maintenance, you can reduce your bills while increasing your comfort. Replacing old units with new efficient ones, or switching fuels, can drastically reduce your energy consumption and your share of power plant pollution.
Choose your fuel
Consider switching to natural gas. Natural gas heat is roughly 60% more efficient than electricity. Moreover, since one half of Idaho's electricity comes from coal, switching to gas directly reduces your carbon footprint.
The sun's rays are free. Three simple measures can help. First, clean windows let in more light, so grab a rag and give 'em a wash. Second, open your curtains during the day and close them at night. Third, use dark colored tile or stone floors in sunny windows to gather heat. For the more ambitious, check out some remodel ideas.
If you use a wood stove, make sure it is safe and ready for the winter. Get your chimney cleaned. Check the door seal. Use an EPA certified stove, which emits fewer emissions while producing more heat.
Pump heat instead
A heat pump moves heat rather than creating heat. Using air, water, or the ground as its heat source, it provides you with up to four times the energy it consumes. Especially if you use electricity for heating, changing to a heat pump can reduce your energy consumption by 30 - 40%.
Ground source heat pumps are the most efficient and comfortable systems available. They qualify for a federal tax credit of 30% with no cap until December 31, 2016. Idaho allows up to $20,000 of tax deductions over four years.
Improve your heater in three easy steps.
Change the air filter. During the heating season experts recommend you change the filter each month to improve air flow and indoor air quality.
Clean your unit. Open up your furnace and vacuum out the dust and cobwebs from the controls and the fan blades. For electric units, vacuum any dust off the coils. If you see a belt between the fan and the motor, check the tension — if there is more than 1/2 inch of sag, then replace it.
Check the performance. For natural gas units, turn on the thermostat then go look into the unit. You should see steady blue flames. If not, call a professional.
Amount: 30% of the cost of materials, up to $1500 total.
Expires: December 31, 2010.
Home type: Existing primary residence.
Materials: Natural gas units with an efficiency rating of 95 AFUE or better. Air source heat pumps with an efficiency rating of 8 HSPF or more. Check labels for these ratings.
For switching from wood to natural gas or propane. Or switching from anything to a ground or air source heat pump.
Amount: $5,000 max for each of four years at 40% of total cost in year 1, then 20% in years 2 through 4.
Home type: Residence, not rental unit.
Materials: Must remove non-certified wood stove and turn in at DEQ location. Replace with EPA certified wood stove, natural gas, propane, ground or air source heat pump.
Amount: $400 for high efficiency natural gas, and $750 dollars if switching from electricity, up to 50% of cost.
Home type: Primary residence including manufactured or modular homes, up to a fourplex.
Materials: Natural gas unit rated at 90% AFUE or better. Or an air source heat pump rated 8.8 HSPF or better.
Amount: $200 - $250 for replacing existing air source heat pump. $300 - $400 for switching from electric or propane to air source heat pump.
Home type: Primary, secondary, and rental homes where natural gas is not available.
Materials: Must be installed by a Idaho Power qualified contractor and have an efficiency rating of 8.2 HSPF or better.
Home type: Residence more than three years old
Materials: Natural gas unit with efficiency rating of 90% AFUE or better. Must switch from electric, propane, wood, or another source.