These 5 tips will help you heat your home more efficiently

These 5 tips will help you heat your home more efficiently

Homeowners in the Iowa Great Lakes area and throughout Northwest Iowa know that winter weather means a workout for their homes' furnaces. And they're not alone. According to the Department of Energy, heating accounts for 45% of energy bills throughout the country.

That's why now is an excellent time to look for steps you can take to help your furnace heat your home more efficiently. These five tips will not only help you keep your home warm and comfortable, but they could help lower your utility bill, too.

1. Turn on ceiling fans

Let's start with an easy step that you can implement right away to give your furnace a hand in heating your house.

Turn on the ceiling fans in the winter.

That's right. Fans aren't just for creating a cooling breeze in the summer. By simply changing the direction of the blades to rotate clockwise (fans should be set to rotate counterclockwise in the summer), ceiling fans can help you keep your home warmer and rely less on your furnace.

This is because the fan blades, if rotating clockwise, pulls cool air upward. The warm air that is already gathered near the ceiling is then pushed back down, helping you to feel warm and comfortable in the room.

By using fans in the winter, homeowners can save up to 15% on energy costs, according to U.S. Department of Energy. Note though that to get the most energy savings, people in the home must remember to turn fans off if they are not in the room.

2. Find and close air leaks in the house

Cold air is a furnace's greatest enemy. It can enter a home through a variety of spaces that are close to or exposed to the elements and frigid temperatures outside. These air leaks are common windows, but can be found in any gap or lightly insulated area in the home.

Air leaks can really bring down your home's energy efficiency, too, causing heating costs to skyrocket. According to Houselogic, air leaks can cost a family about $350 in added heating costs every year.

Other places to look for air leaks include:

  • Attic access doors
  • Chimneys
  • Doors
  • Flues
  • Gaps in the basement above ground level
  • Plumbing vents
  • Recessed lights
  • Wiring holes

The good news is that many air leaks can be handled as DIY projects. Energy STar and the Environmental Protection Agency have an excellent DIY guide that comes packed with recommendations for dealing with air leaks in your home.

3. Change air filters when dirty.

A dirty air filter can derail a furnace's efficiency. These filters take the air coming from the return - which feeds air from inside the home into the furnace - and cleans it before the furnace heats it and blows it back throughout the home. If the air filters are clogged or too dirty, then the furnace will perform more efficiently because it does not have to work as hard or as long to gather enough warm air to heat the home to your desired comfort level.

Keep an eye on the air filter and keep track of when it should be changed. This will depend on the furnace's model and manufacturer, but it's a good idea to take a look at the filter once or twice a month, especially if it has seen heavy use recently.

In addition to checking the air filter, make sure the return grille is also kept clean and unblocked (keep furniture away) to allow for proper air flow.

4. Get your furnace serviced.

Regular furnace maintenance is the best way to prevent more severe issues that will end up hitting your bank account hard if left alone. And you can count on wear and tear will mount up over time. In fact, some experts have reported that 75% of the emergency service calls they receive are caused by issues that came up over time because the unit's owners neglected to have their furnaces serviced regularly.

A regular, biannual furnace service appointment can help prevent those wear and tear issues from mounting up to steep repair bills. These checkups can help your furnace last as long as possible while also operating as efficiently as possible. So, you are better off spending a little money now to avoid paying a hefty repair bill or the even higher cost of replacing a furnace.

5. Make sure you have the right furnace size.

Furnaces are not a one-size-fits-all home appliance. The size of the furnace in your house or other building can make a huge difference in how efficiently it can heat your home.

For example, if the furnace is too large for the home, it will waste energy from cycling on and off too often. A bigger furnace can also need bigger ductwork, too, which will also decrease efficiency when it's in operation. A furnace that is too small for the house it's in will have to work way too hard as it attempts to heat the home - often to no avail on the coldest winter days.

Now, how do you know whether a furnace is not sized properly for your home? Well, it's not as simple as looking at the furnace model size and comparing that to the square footage of the home. Furnace size is calculated by BTU (British Thermal Unit) per hour input or output capacity.

To determine which furnace best fits your home, a qualified HVAC technician will take the BTU of a unit into consideration and also look at energy loss calculations that depend on a structure's size, window area and insulation level. This is why it's always best to speak with a heating and cooling expert when you are looking at any sort of project involving your home's furnace.

Call in the pros

If you are looking at purchasing a new furnace - or are having pro take a look at your existing unit - then give us a call. Comfortec technicians are proud to serve many customers in the Iowa Great Lakes area and Northwest Iowa as their preferred heating and cooling experts.

Schedule a service call - emergency or otherwise - today.

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