Tips to Help Your Furnace Operate More Efficiently
Winter heating bills can wreak havoc on your budget. That’s why it’s so important to keep your furnace running efficiently for the comfort of your family and for saving money on your energy bill.
Energy efficiency can help knock down high energy bills throughout the winter while keeping your home toasty all season long. Here are a few furnace efficiency tips to help you get the most out of your furnace all winter long.
Get Annual Furnace Maintenance
After a period of downtime, make sure that your home heating system is ready to go by scheduling an inspection. Preventative furnace maintenance is key to extending the lifespan of your furnace and allows for you to address any early warning signs and small inefficiencies in your heating system. Faulty parts, a buildup of dust, dirty filters, or ungreased components can all hinder your furnace from working at peak efficiency. Consider investing in having your furnace inspected for efficiency before the winter months so you and your family can enjoy complete comfort and peace of mind all winter long. You can learn more about the benefits of furnace tune ups here.
Change Your HVAC System Filters Regularly
The purpose of your furnace filter is to prevent dust, dirt and small particles from getting clogged in your HVAC unit. Without a clean air filter, debris can build up in your heating system, causing your furnace to work harder to keep you and your family warm, resulting in higher heating bills. Additionally, there’s a greater chance of furnace repairs due to the increased wear and tear.
Your furnace filter needs to be changed at least twice a year, and maybe more if your home is prone to dust buildup, you have pets, or have had recent house renovations. If you do not schedule an annual furnace maintenance checkup, a good rule of thumb is to check the filter monthly for a clogged filter. If you see hair and dust on the furnace filter, then replace or wash the dirty filter to keep the HVAC system running smoothly.
Use a Programmable Thermostat and Adjust Accordingly
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, invest in one! A large part of furnace efficiency is about controlling when the furnace kicks on and off. A programmable thermostat is one of easiest ways to save money by lowering your monthly utility bills year round. A thermostat that monitors room temperature and automatically adjusts accordingly will save energy and save money.
Many homeowners probably don’t need the same level of heat pumping into their homes during the day as they might at night. Program your thermostat to adjust the temperature settings accordingly to save on heating costs and energy consumption. A good programmable thermostat can significantly help you operate your furnace efficiently.
Adjust the ceiling fans
Hot air rises, so you may not be seeing the full benefit of your furnace, especially if you have tall or vaulted ceilings. If you flip a switch on the ceiling fan, you can recirculate the warm air near the top of the room down to the floor, keeping the temperature even. You may notice that this one small change affects how much warmth you feel in a room.
Keep Vents Open & Furnace Area Clear
Most furnaces are kept in the basement, where many homeowners also love to store extra belongings. Keeping a three to five-foot area around your furnace clear of stored items is essential in helping your furnace run efficiently.
In order to run efficiently your furnace needs to be able to circulate air around your home freely. Make sure none of your vents and intakes are blocked by furniture, toys or drapes or have trapped dust in the cover. If there is an obstruction, find a way to open up the area around the vent.
Strategically using your curtains or blinds can make a noticeable difference in your energy usage, helping you save money. You can prevent heat loss in cold weather by closing your curtains and blinds at night.
Opening your curtains during the day on the south or west-facing windows on sunny days allows the warm sunshine to enter and heat the inside of your home, but north-facing windows should be kept closed, even during the day.
Another way to lower your energy bill is by adding carpeting or area rugs in rooms to help insulate against drafts. Carpet and area rugs also help with soundproofing rooms and add a warm cozy feeling.
Keep a Good Humidity Level
Most people notice that the air in their home tends to be dry during the winter months, which can make us feel colder than we are. Using a humidifier to increase your humidity level to about 40% will help transfer heat better. You can lower the setting on the thermostat and not notice it. More humidity is also better for wood floors and furniture and can help mitigate the spread of airborne pollutants in your home’s air, which helps prevent asthma and allergy attacks. Check out this blog for your home’s ideal indoor humidity level.
Seal Your Garage Door
The attached garage is one of the biggest culprits of energy loss in your home. Like the rest of your home, the weakest spots and heat loss areas are around the windows and doors. Some garage doors, especially older ones, don’t insulate against heat loss. When it comes to fixing the insulation in your garage, it can be as inexpensive as a simple weatherstrip or a larger project like a complete garage door replacement.
Poor insulation in the walls is one of the leading causes of heat loss in a garage too. There are apparent identifiers like holes, cracks, and gashes that expose directly to the outside. While these should be fixed as soon as possible, heat loss is usually much more subtle than this.
You should check your weatherstripping at least once a year, especially before the winter. When your garage door is completely down, it should be touching the garage floor, and there shouldn’t be any air leaks around the sides or top; if the seal is broken or frazzled in any way, you should replace it.
Get an Energy Audit
Your local power company may offer energy audits, which is particularly helpful for older homes. You could be losing a significant amount of heated air through doors and windows, inadequate insulation, and any unsealed cracks around your home. Take the information the audit yields, and start making some changes to the main heat transfer areas in your home. Your furnace won’t have to work as hard when it gets cold if your home is better at retaining heat.
Know When to Replace vs. Repair
In some cases, it may be more beneficial to replace an older furnace than to repair one. If your furnace is constantly running and not providing adequate heat, or is consistently requiring costly repairs, it may be time to invest in a new, high efficiency furnace system.
Older furnaces don’t have nearly as many of the energy efficiency features that now come standard and help make your furnace work more efficiently. Minimum efficiency standards have changed over the years, and that older furnace may be costing you more than you realize in minimum comfort and maximum heating costs. Plus, when and if you decide to sell, a new furnace adds to the value of your home.
Small changes can do a lot to help your furnace perform more efficiently, making the burden of energy costs less intense during the winter season while keeping your family comfortable on those cold winter nights.
If you’re interested in a furnace checkup or want to learn more about a new furnace, the professionals at Patriot Air Comfort Systems are here to help you make the most cost-effective, energy saving decisions for your home.