If you don’t have any additional heating sources to keep your home warm during the winter, your furnace becomes a necessity. However, for many households, it also becomes a major expense that can seem to increase with each passing year. One solution to rising utility costs is to consider all of the ways that you can make your furnace more efficient. Efficient furnaces will be able to heat your home more effectively without wasting heat and energy, lowering your utility bills and reducing the stress on the furnace itself. This will lead to a longer-lasting system that won’t need as many expensive repairs.
When it comes to furnace efficiency, the problem may be with your system, or it may be with your home. Determining which may take some time, but the savings will be well worth your effort, and you may find that these improvements benefit other areas of your home as well. From duct cleaning to sealing your windows, here are a few ways that you can increase the efficiency of your furnace.
Upgrade Your Thermostat
Upgrading your thermostat can not only help you to save money on your heating bill each month, but it can also make you more comfortable in your home and add to your convenience. If you are still using your system’s old mercury thermostat, it may be adding to the problem. Upgrading to something more modern can solve many of your heating problems with one small installation.
There are several options when it comes to thermostat upgrades. A digital thermostat has the capabilities of setting a schedule for your heating system so that it automatically changes the temperature based on the time of day. A smart thermostat is a step up from this in that it allows for scheduling, but also allows you to change the temperature of your home from your smart device even when you are away. This can give you greater flexibility and control. Smart thermostats can also help you remember to perform essential functions that aid inefficiency such as changing your filter or calling your HVAC technician for a tuneup.
Invest in Yearly Maintenance
We cannot emphasize enough how important a yearly furnace and AC tune-up is for the efficiency of your HVAC system. In the same way that you wouldn’t go months without changing the oil in your car, you shouldn’t let your furnace go more than a year without lubricating moving parts, tightening electrical connections, checking gas connections, and cleaning the system. Neglecting this can cause parts to break down prematurely, and at the very least, can cause the system to run less efficiently. Tune-ups are also important for your family’s safety as they can be a great way to detect carbon monoxide leaks and any other potential dangers. You can also consider regular air duct cleaning to improve the efficiency of your furnace.
Seal Your Air Ducts
Leaky ducts in your home can cause up to 20% of your heat to be wasted. However, having your ductwork sealed can fix this problem and also make the air in your home safer, cleaner, and more comfortable. When your ductwork is properly sealed, your indoor air quality will improve because there is less likelihood of harmful gases and contaminants recirculating through your home. Rather than allowing any of the hot air, your furnace produces to escape outside, have your local HVAC technician seal your ducts.
Change Filters Regularly
How regularly you need to change your filters depends on the specific furnace that you have as well as the unique environment that you have inside your home. Every home has unique challenges that are based upon the preference of the residents as well as external location. For instance, if you live in an industrial area with more pollution, or next to a dusty dirt road, you may have to change your filters more often. Additionally, if you own pets that shed fur, you will likely have to increase the number of times per year that you change your filter.
Having clean filters is important for the efficiency of your system. If the filter is clogged with pet hair, dust, and other impurities, your furnace will not be able to do its job properly, and it will keep running in an attempt to heat your home to your desired temperature. You can ask a furnace professional how often they recommend changing your filter, or you can simply observe and see how quickly your filter gets dirty.
Replace Your Furnace
If you have an older furnace that has served you faithfully for many years, it may be difficult to think about replacing it. However, as your furnace gets old, it will begin to have more frequent problems. Additionally, furnaces that were designed in the past few years are built to be much more energy-efficient. Replacing your old furnace may be the change that you need to reduce energy costs in your home.
When you begin to consider a replacement, you should work with your installation company to choose the correct size of furnace for your home. A furnace that is too big will consume too much energy during usage, and it will have to turn on and off more frequently to keep your home at the right temperature, wasting more energy. A furnace that is too small will not be able to keep up with your heating needs and will have to run continually to keep your home warm. Always make sure that the furnace you choose has an ENERGY STAR label with an efficiency rating of over 90%.
Keep the Unit Clean and Unobstructed
There is a lot you can do even after a furnace tune-up to keep your furnace working efficiently and safely. One important step is to make sure that your furnace is always kept clean and unobstructed. This means keeping any storage items, cleaning supplies, boxes, or tools away from all sides of the furnace. You can also spend some time each year cleaning dust and debris from all external portions of the furnace as well as inside the access panel. Remember to always turn off electrical power to your furnace before cleaning or servicing it in any way.
Improve Your Home’s Efficiency
Finally, you will want to take a good look at your home and find any problem areas that may be causing your home to lose heat faster than your furnace can produce it. One of the most common problem areas is the windows. Windows that are old or not sealed properly can be a major source of heat loss. If you feel a cold breeze coming from your windows, you may want to consider a replacement. You can also quickly fix problem windows by purchasing a plastic wrap sealing kit.
Other common areas of heat loss include doors, fireplaces, and vents. To solve the first, consider replacing your weather stripping. To improve the efficiency of your fireplace, consider replacing your damper and adding glass doors to the front to block any heat from escaping. Finally, only use exhaust vents as needed. Constant use can cause a backdraft, sucking warm air from the home and allowing cooler air to enter.
If your heating bill has been steadily increasing and has become a burden for your family, take heart! There are many things that you can do to improve the efficiency of your furnace and cut down on costs. Some can be an expensive investment, such as furnace replacement. However, there are many affordable ways to achieve this as well such as thermostat replacement or sealing your windows during the winter. By choosing a few of these items, you can make heating your home more affordable.