The buzz of summer has quieted and, with its cooler nights and frosty mornings, the chill of autumn has set in. Before the season turns to frosted window panes, frozen nights, and days so cold you shovel snow to stay warm in the driveway, set aside some time to prepare your home and HVAC system so you can enjoy toasty-warm days and energy efficient winter nights throughout the coming months.
Tackle These Furnace Maintenance and Energy-Saving Hacks Before the Temperature Drops
1. Change the Furnace Filter
Some recommend changing filters monthly, while others say seasonally. The true lifespan of an HVAC filter depends on the system's use and environment. A furnace with a clogged filter has to work much harder to pull in air. Installing a clean filter before turning up the heat will improve efficiency and put less strain on the system, increasing its longevity.
2. Consider a Smarter Thermostat
A smart thermostat is more sensitive, keeping a space at exactly the intended temperature. These fancy thermostats can also be programmed to expend less energy when no one is home or when everyone is tucked snugly into bed by automatically lowering the temperature. Setting a system (smart or not) to fluctuate by more than five degrees, however, can wind up using more energy to re-heat a space than simply leaving the temperature at a comfortable setting all of the time.
3. Clean and Unblock Air Supply and Return Vents
Make sure all air vents are unobstructed by furniture or other household items to ensure the free flow of warm air throughout the space. If any part of the home will go unused, such as a guest bedroom, consider closing the vents in the area to save the cost of heating unoccupied rooms.
4. Eliminate Drafts
Cold drafts can come in and warm air can escape through leaky windows, doors, unsealed light fixtures, electrical outlets, keyholes and letterboxes. Install new weather stripping around doors to prevent drafts from creeping in. Storm or double-paned windows provide a great deal of insulation, but if upgrading is not possible, consider installing a layer of weather-proofing plastic over the windows to seal in heat and save energy.
5. Adjust Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans provide a welcome breeze in the summer, and are useful during cold months, too. Adjust blades for a clockwise rotation. On low, a ceiling fan will gently push rising warm air down into the living space.
6. Limit Exhaust Fan Use
Exhaust fans in the home, such as the ones installed in bathrooms and above kitchen stoves, pull air directly up and out of the house. Running exhaust fans in the winter means actively losing both warm air and potential energy savings to the frosty outdoors.
7. Install a Humidifier
Running the furnace dries out the air, but humid air holds heat energy better than dry air. Plus, it feels much warmer, too. With a little humidity in the air, most feel cozy and comfortable with their homes at a lower temperature than they would if the air was dry.
8. Check the Chimney
Inspecting the chimney before the snow falls is much easier (and safer) than doing so after it's buried in a heap of snow and ice. Make sure the shaft is clean and keep the flue closed to prevent heat from escaping up to the sky.
9. Fortify the Upper, Lower, and Outer Portions of the House
Most do not really consider their attics, garages, basements or crawl spaces to be parts of their homes which require preparation or maintenance for energy efficiency. These areas, however, act as buffers between the livable spaces in a home and the winter wonderland sparkling beyond. They also tend to have lots of pipes and ducts leading to the outside. Be sure the spaces around these pipes are well-sealed. It's also smart to keep the garage door closed when heating a home. Although, heat probably does not flow into the garage, the open space between the main portion of a home and the outside provides extra insulation.
10. Wrap the Water Heater
If the outside of a water heater feels warm to the touch, then it's losing heat, wasting energy, and increasing the power bill. Most water heaters can be insulated by wrapping them in a blanket. Before taking steps to insulate a water heater, it is a good idea to read the unit's warning labels and check with an HVAC professional.
11. Dress the Windows
Curtains and blinds do more than dress up an ordinary window; they also act as a layer of insulation on a house. Open the blinds on sunny days to let energy from the Sun provide free heat. Close the shades at night to keep the winter wind outside where it belongs.
12. Schedule an HVAC Tune-Up and Duct Inspection
A professional furnace maintenance appointment is like a tune-up or a wellness check for an HVAC system. It is important to be certain an HVAC system is in working order before the temperatures drop and heating the home becomes a full-time job. Regular upkeep and maintenance prevents unforeseen problems and the need for emergency furnace repairs in the dead of winter.
During a routine HVAC inspection, a heating and cooling expert will evaluate the condition of the system, check duct work on the inside and outside of the home, and also makes sure carbon-monoxide detectors are in place and functioning for the safety of the home's occupants. Regular upkeep not only prevents the inconvenience of unexpected problems, but also saves homeowners lots of money in replacement furnace cost by extending the lifetime of the entire system.
No Matter How Cold, Our Experts in Furnace Replacement and Emergency Furnace Repairs Will Keep You Warm
At Laird & Son, our HVAC experts have proudly provided the greater Toronto area with exceptional service, attention to detail, and quality work for over 60 years. To this day, we remain committed to keeping our clients warm in the winter, cool in the summer and comfortable every season in between. We provide 24-hour emergency services for tankless water heaters, boilers, furnace repair, and furnace installation. While we recommend scheduling an annual HVAC maintenance before the winter hits, we will be there to keep your home warm anytime your furnace quits.