To help address the challenges of rising energy bills this season, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute has launched the “2 Degree Pledge” initiative. The Pledge offers easy homeowner steps ― such as installing a programmable thermostat, ensuring proper maintenance by a professional, and adjusting thermostat settings ― to help people achieve lower energy bills through greater energy efficiency.

AHRI, in collaboration with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, the Edison Electric Institute, the U.S. Energy Association, and North American Technician Excellence, reports that average heating costs are expected to increase by nearly 20 percent over last year.

"The 2 Degree Pledge urges consumers to think about their heating system efficiency now, before the winter heating season," said AHRI PresidentStephen Yurek. "With just a couple degrees of change, such as installing a programmable thermostat and setting the thermostat a few degrees higher when they leave the house for the day, homeowners can simply and significantly reduce their energy costs, without compromising their comfort.”

According to the U.S. EPA, more than half of all home heating systems in the United States do not perform to their rated efficiency as a result of improper installation and maintenance. The 2 Degree Pledge urges homeowners to contact a heating pro to have their systems serviced and optimized for efficiency and comfort.

"It is time that we as a nation address the efficiency loss that occurs when heating and cooling equipment is not installed correctly, maintained properly or used wisely," said Yurek. "The nation will never reap the energy savings more efficient equipment can deliver if we don't address these three issues as soon as possible."

To further save energy, the campaign encourages consumers to change filters, seal ducts and windows, and insulate walls, and says these steps can result in savings of up to 20 percent on energy bills.

Learn more about the 2 Degree Pledge, The website includes tools and calculators to help homeowners determine if an upgrade to a more efficient heating or cooling system makes sense for them. It also features maintenance and quality installation checklists to review with their heating and cooling system technician or contractor to make sure their system's performance is being optimized.