At this time of year, we rely on our furnace to keep us warm, but it can cost a lot to run, and it’s essential to maximize the efficiency to keep those HVAC expenses under control. This can be achieved without sacrificing indoor comfort by carrying out some essential furnace maintenance. This should be carried out every year before the heating season begins to get the system ready for the colder months ahead. But, if you’ve missed that window, all is not lost, and you can still contact your local heating professionals to get your furnace working at peak efficiency.
5 DIY Maintenance Tips to Lower Your Heating Bills
Cooling and heating account for about 48% of the energy used in a typical home. This makes it the most considerable expense for the majority of homes and any steps that can be taken to improve efficiency should be welcomed. Annual furnace maintenance is essential to get the most out of your furnace, but here are five maintenance tips to reduce heat loss and lower your heating bills now.
- Adjust the Thermostat
It’s possible to reduce your heating and cooling bills by as much as 10% by simply adjusting your thermostat. Try setting your thermostat back by between 7º-10º for an eight hour period each day and monitor the results. This is easy to do if you have a programmable or smart thermostat and you could save around $83 per year. It makes sense to turn the heat down at night and then set it to come back up to temperature before you get up in the morning. This will help you to keep your house warm when you need it most and save money when you’re tucked up in bed. If you’re going away on vacation you can set the temperature to around 55º and your pipes will not freeze while you’re away.
- Calibrate the Thermostat
The thermostat should be thought of as the brain of your cooling and heating system, and if it isn’t calibrated properly, you will be using too much energy. A thermostat can easily lose its calibration due to an accidental knock or if some dirt or dust gets inside the unit. Checking and calibrating the thermostat is a crucial part of any comprehensive annual service. If you want to get the most out of your thermostat, it’s a great idea to make the switch to a modern programmable or smart unit. This will give you unparalleled control over the thermostat to improve your fuel efficiency and lower your energy bills.
- Upgrade Your Aging Furnace
According to heating experts, upgrading your furnace can make a huge difference to your heating efficiency. As an example: an old furnace with 60% efficiency could be replaced with a brand new furnace with 98%, and this would save you $11,469 in heating costs over the lifespan of the furnace. Every furnace type (electric, gas, and oil) has an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating to tell you how efficient it is. An up to date modern furnace could have a rating as high as 98.2% and produce only 1.8% exhaust waste. It’s impossible to reach a 100% efficiency rating, but a modern furnace get pretty close, and this could save 25%-30% on a typical home heating bill.
- Clean and Adjust the Burners
A great deal of energy efficiency can be gained or lost at the burners in your furnace. Take a close look at the burners for any signs of corrosion or deposits of rust that could have accumulated there. This is often caused by an undetected condensate leak dripping onto the burner and causing problems. Any corrosion or burnt on material should be thoroughly cleaned away so that the burners can operate efficiently.
- Seal Up the Your Ducts
It’s estimated that 10%-30% of treated air (cooled or heated) in a typical home is lost due to leaks in the ductwork. This is air that has been paid for. Hundreds of dollars every year are wasted and added to your energy bills, and you are not getting the performance you need. The ducts transport the treated air throughout your home and distribute it evenly. Over time, these ducts can become damaged, and this will allow contaminants to circulate into the system. This can aggravate respiratory illnesses, asthma symptoms, and other allergies. If you can locate a leak, it can be sealed with metal tape or a mastic sealant and then the ducts can be insulated. For a more professional repair speak to your local HVAC specialist.
The Importance of Regular Furnace Maintenance
All of the five tips detailed above can be easily carried out by someone with very little DIY knowledge. But, it’s always a good idea to arrange regular furnace maintenance before the winter weather starts. A well maintained furnace is less likely to break down when you need it most, and it will run more efficiently. Some people will try to save money by skipping furnace maintenance, but this is a false economy. When the furnace is regularly maintained, it will be more energy efficient, and so it will cost less to run. The furnace may have a longer effective lifespan, and this also save money over the long term.
Some Important Considerations
Safety should always be the most critical consideration when it comes to operating a furnace in your home. It’s important to check any carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly. The carbon monoxide detector should be installed at least 15 feet away from the furnace to keep your family safe. Stay alert for unusual behavior that could indicate a problem in your furnace, such as strange sounds, odd odors, and squeaking noises. Strange sounds are often a sign that there is a mechanical problem, a part may have gotten loose, and it will need to be fixed. A “rotten egg” odor could be caused by a gas leak, and a metallic smell can be caused by a furnace motor. If you experience any of these problems or you just need some professional furnace maintenance to boost your heating efficiency contact your local HVAC professional today.