Wintertime should be reserved for nights around the fire, snow days, and enjoying all the season has to offer — not worrying about dead furnaces and heating emergencies. Luckily, our HVAC technicians created this list of the five most important things you should do to winter-proof your heating system.
1. Keep the Cold Out
When cold air creeps into your home, it creates the potential for freezing pipes and increased energy costs as your furnace works harder to maintain consistent temperatures. To make sure your home stays well-insulated, close crawl space vents and stuff insulation over the openings. Even a tiny hole can let a lot of cold air blow in.
Bathrooms and laundry rooms located near garages can be particularly vulnerable to cold. Be sure to keep garage doors close to help maintain maximum heat.
2. Invest in Insulation
Some days are just so drafty that you can’t entirely keep the cold out. That’s where insulation comes in. Putting more insulation in your walls and properly sealing windows, doors and other exit points will help your system keep your home warm without having constantly account for heated air that has escaped. This is a good way to not only protect your system, but to also save you a substantial amount of money on your utility bills each month.
When you’re switching from warm to hot weather, don’t forget about pipe insulation. These include pipe sleeves, heat tape, or heat cables that can be wrapped around pipes to insulate them from the cold. In a pinch, some homeowners simulate these effects by wrapping newspaper around their pipes.
3. Keep the Heat On
Never turn off the heat when you leave home during the winter. Instead, set the temperature to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit (or higher if you’ve had problems in the past or live in an area of extreme cold). If you have multiple heat zones, be sure to adjust all thermostats appropriately.
That being said, it can be awful costly to crank up your heat all winter long. By lowering your temperature 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for at least eight hours daily during cold weather, you can save up to 15% a year on your heating bill. Energy.gov recommends the following settings:
- 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re home
- 55 degrees Fahrenheit or lower when you’re not home or sleeping
Many thermostats allow you to pre-set temperatures to suit your schedule: at work, when sleeping, or when traveling. This allows you to keep the heat at a consistent temperature, which not only protects your pipes from freezing but optimizes HVAC efficiency, too!
4. Prep Your Furnace
A few simple maintenance tips can help ensure that your furnace operates efficiently all season long.
First, be sure to replace the air filter in your furnace each month. Locate the filter and slide it out. Replace the new filter into the slot, following the arrows on the frame of the filter.
In addition, inspect the exhaust flue outdoors to make sure it is not blocked by obstructions such as branches or animal nests.
If you have an oil-powered furnace, replace your filter and nozzle and check the tank level. The last thing you want is to run out of oil in the middle of a winter storm!
Beyond these steps, it’s important to ask your HVAC technician to inspect the heat exchanger, belt cracks, the blower motor, and the ignitor switch.
5. Contact a Professional HVAC Technician
The best way to prevent a winter heating emergency is to have your system professionally inspected. A certified HVAC technician will inspect potential furnace issues, insulation issues, and cold-prone areas of the home. Luckily, One Hour Heating services all of the above — and more. It’s never too late to schedule a heating system tune-up and safety inspection, replace furnace filters or even consider a new, more energy-efficient heating system.