Furnaces in homes throughout North America are cranking up for a long winter season. It is especially important to have furnaces inspected and maintained to ensure that they run efficiently and safely as we head into the colder months.
SIMPLE WAYS TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY
By some accounts, home heating, especially gas furnaces, can represent half of a typical home’s winter utilities bill. Efficient operation can mean lower energy bills and a more comfortable home. For example, programmable thermostats can be used to automatically turn heat up or down at specified times, so that the temperature is lowered overnight or while no one is at home. The newest types of thermostats can be operated via smartphone or tablet using apps specific to these functions.
Thermostats should be calibrated occasionally to avoid “off-cycle” heat loss; a properly-calibrated thermostat will result in more even heating between the on/off cycles, which is both more efficient and comfortable.
SAFETY AND MAINTENANCE
Safety is also an important factor in furnace operation. Gas furnaces can be a source of dangerous carbon monoxide if there are leaks or cracks that go unnoticed or unrepaired. The furnace flame should be steady and burn blue; if not, this should be addressed immediately. A qualified contractor or inspector can detect these types of problems and recommend needed action.
Simple furnace maintenance includes checking and replacing disposable air filters and cleaning permanent-type filters, as well as keeping dust, hair, and lint away from the burner compartment and air intake. No matter what type it is, a well-maintained furnace will not only last longer, but can save energy, money, and help a home’s overall air quality and comfort.
CONSIDERING A NEW FURNACE?
If a new furnace is necessary, it is a good opportunity to evaluate the various types of furnaces now available and how well they might meet a home’s specific situation. Furnaces are defined as conventional efficiency, mid efficiency, and high efficiency. There are advantages and drawbacks to each type, and some are better suited to older homes, for example, and cost may be a factor in considering various types of systems. However, the ability of most new furnaces to reduce off-cycle heat loss, eliminate the need for an always-on pilot light, etc. make replacing a furnace worth considering if a current system is in bad repair functioning poorly. Your local Pillar To Post office can provide you with additional information on various types of furnaces.