Getting the most from your heater during the winter months can seem like an impossible task. Heaters tend to lose their efficiency over time, particularly as their components age and sustain wear and tear from use. Likewise, sitting dormant for a long period of time (over the summer) doesn’t do your heater any good. However, that inefficiency can quite literally be costly. An inefficient heater will be more expensive to operate—because they don’t produce the same amount of heat, they require longer cycle times and longer cycle times consume more energy, thus increasing energy bills.
What can you do to get the most from your furnace during the upcoming winter season? Turns out, following these few simple tips can do a lot. Here are four ways to make the most of your furnace during the winter.
Prepare with a Pre-Season Tune-Up
Furnace maintenance can go a long way toward saving you money and improving your heater’s performance. A maintenance service includes a number of small checks and upkeep tasks, all designed to improve your furnace’s operation. A quality tune-up will improve reliability, longevity and energy efficiency while also reducing the chances of your furnace breaking down. Likewise, it gives a professional technician the chance to give your system a thorough inspection so you can spot any potential problems before they get too serious.
We always recommend scheduling a tune-up in the fall, before the cold weather comes in and suggest that you add it to your yearly calendar. That way, you can be prepared for the first cycle of the season, which is when the majority of heating breakdowns happen.
Set Your Thermostat Accordingly
Setting your thermostat to maximize furnace performance is actually extremely easy. Here’s how: if you live in a single-story home, just set your heater to your ideal temperature and let it go. Setting it extremely high in an attempt to heat your home faster won’t actually speed up the process and will, instead, waste energy when your heater blows past your temperature target.
If you have a two-story home, set your downstairs thermostat two degrees warmer than your upstairs thermostat. The rising heat from your lower level will balance the temperature, creating an even temperature throughout your home. Likewise, the reduced operation on your upstairs system will save you money as well!
Utilize the Power of the Sun
California is known for sunlight and we’re fortunate to get no shortage of it during the winter months! While some mornings may be gloomy or foggy, we encourage you to use the sun to your advantage whenever you can. Open your window shades and blinds and use the power of natural sunlight to heat your home during winter.
Conversely, if you have energy-efficient dual-pane windows (as many homes do), then we recommend checking and replacing your weather seals. Heat loss through air leaks is a serious problem - and most of these occur in gaps around doors and windows.
Ceiling Fans Are Friends—Even in Winter!
If we told you ceiling fans were year-round appliances, you’d probably think we were crazy. There is a small switch on every ceiling fan, usually located on the motor housing. Flipping this switch reverses the fan’s motor direction. With the fan shut off, flip this switch in every room and your fans will begin pulling air upward from the ground toward the ceiling of your space.
Forcing air upward into your ceiling will cycle down the warm air that is trapped at the top. This ensures more consistent heating and allows you to better utilize the heat that your furnace produces. This can shorten cycle times, reduce heating costs and save you money all winter long! Just be sure you do two things: clean the fan blades before turning the fan on for the first time and run the fan at no more than a medium speed setting for best results.
Elsewhere on Our Blog
Elsewhere on our blog this month, we took a look at two important questions regarding major repair services for your home. First, we took a look at smart electrical panel, and how they can greatly improve your energy system in your home. Smart panels use the power of an internet connection to give you additional features, including helping you easily track how much energy is being used in your home. These panels also give you the ability to do things like safely use backup power from solar panels or an emergency battery, or even to prioritize energy flow to where you need it during an emergency.
We also took a look at evaporator coils, specifically, whether or not you should replace yours. A damaged evaporator coil is a serious repair that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it may not be one you should undertake in certain situations. Our blog takes a look at a few times when replacing your coil is the right choice, as well as a few instances where you might want to just replace your entire air conditioner instead.