Run your furnace more efficiently this winter with these tips
‘Tis the season once again and your furnace is about to get another winter workout.
But before you reach for the thermostat, there are a few winter heating tips you should know that can help keep your home’s furnace operating as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.
Many of these tips are small changes you can make to your home and to your routine. However, the payoff is money saved on utility costs and avoid furnace repairs make the changes very much worth your time.
Be smart with the thermostat
It may seem tempting to crank up the temperature in your home in the dead of winter, but that obviously is probably not a great idea. At least not if you want your furnace to keep up and last as long as it should.
But again, it can be tempting, especially after coming inside from the cold to reach for the thermostat and get back to your comfort zone a little faster. That’s not what happens when you bump up the temperature, though.
Experts in the HVAC industry will all tell you that setting a thermostat to 75 degrees is not going to help a room that is 70 degrees warm up any faster.
This is why it is also OK - and recommended - to turn down the thermostat when you are away from your home or at night when you do not need as much heat to be comfortable. If the thermostat is programmable, then you can very easily set it to return to a comfortable warmth by the time you return home or wake up in the morning.
Being smart about how you set your thermostat can save money on heating costs.
Make little changes around the home
There are other steps that you can take that can help you rely a little less on your home’s furnace to stay warm.
One useful change you can make indoors once the temperature drops outdoors is to switch all ceiling fans in the house to run clockwise. This creates a recirculation effect that pushes the warmer air that rises toward the ceiling back down to the ground.
Homeowners can also leave the curtains and blinds open on south-facing windows. This allows warm, natural light to enter the home. Just be sure to close the windows and blinds at night.
While you are taking a look at windows, don’t forget to move any furniture that is blocking vents and preventing the flow of warm air to the rest of the room.
Finally, if there are any areas of the house or rooms that are not widely used, then close doors to save energy. This helps furnaces not have to work as hard to heat those spaces, too. This same tip can be useful for rooms that are difficult to heat.
Locate drafts and leaks
Covering windows that let in air drafts can do your furnace a world of favors, too. You can find clear plastic film or heavier clear plastic sheets used to cover and winterize windows at many local stores. Both materials help block cold air entering the house from the outside.
Other options around windows include installing tighter, insulating drapes or shades on windows. These can be added after plastic film or sheets have been installed to offer even more protection from cold air outside.
After dealing with the windows, look for and seal air leaks that can often be found around pipes, chimney gaps, recessed lights and unfinished spaces inside cupboards and closets. Normally, air leaks can be found with a simple visual inspection. If there’s movement or visible gaps, then air could pass through the space.
There are multiple ways to seal these air leaks, including caulk or weatherstripping. Caulk is useful for leaks where no moving parts are involved. Weatherstripping is better suited for doors and windows that will need to be moveable.
Check furnace filters and change when needed
Every homeowner should regularly monitor their furnace filter and change the filter when needed. Most common filters will last about one month, sometimes a little longer, but keep an eye out for heavier dust and grime buildup if the furnace has been running more often than average.
When working properly, furnace filters block dust, dirt and other contaminants from reaching a home’s heating and cooling system. This not only makes the air inside a home cleaner, but also keeps the parts and internal workings of HVAC systems cleaner.
Too much dirt buildup allowed through due to a dirty filter can lead to some pretty expensive repairs. Even if damage is not done right away, the excess dirt will make the furnace work harder and draw more energy. That will result in a noticeable difference when the next utility bill arrives in the mail.
To help you determine when you should change a furnace filter, here is a handy guide from HVAC.com:
- 1-inch filter: After 1-3 months
- 2-inch filter: After 1-3 months
- 3-inch filter: After 6-9 months
- 4-inch filter: After 6-9 months
- 5-inch filter: After 9-12 months
- 6-inch filter: After 9-12 months
Get your furnace checked annually
Nobody wants to be stuck in a situation where you need a working furnace to heat a house to a comfortable level on a cold winter night. The best way to avoid this is to have your furnace looked over annually by a HVAC professional.
Annual maintenance of your home’s heating and cooling system can help identify minor problems before they turn into major problems. Nobody wants to be surprised by furnace equipment breaking down in the middle of winter.
When scheduling a maintenance appointment, be sure to think ahead. It is much easier to get on an HVAC pro’s schedule before the cold sets it in - because too many people put off routine maintenance until it’s absolutely needed.
Work with an experienced heating pro
Don’t wait until your furnace needs major repairs or a complete replacement before reaching out to a trusted, experienced hearing professional to have it checked.
Schedule a service with Comfortec today to ensure you and your family won’t have to worry about the furnace giving out this winter.
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