The holidays are a wonderful time in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville and Lisle (IL). Here at Beery, we love the lights, sights and sounds of the community as it comes alive with the spirit of giving as well as appreciation for others. We certainly do appreciate you, our customers!
We also know what’s right around the corner as we cross into another new year: cold weather. Really cold – Illinois cold. It often hangs around until deep into March, and that means our furnaces do their heaviest lifting to keep us comfortable, safe and warm.
A few months of full-time labor is a high calling for a heating system, but, amazing machine that it is, your furnace is usually up to the task when you contribute to its efforts.
The following are useful ways you can help keep your furnace efficient all winter long.
Efficient Furnace in Winter: Air Filter
A furnace is a complex machine, yet it depends a lot on a small item. The air filter traps impurities such as dirt, dust, pollen and dander from entering the heated air you live and breathe in. It also helps keep air properly flowing through the system.
The filter is very good at its job until it’s been working too long. A dirty filter will interfere with airflow and make your furnace strain to produce the same amount of heat. This stresses the system while driving up energy bills.
A furnace that continues to labor with a clogged filter can and often will malfunction. For example, the blower motor can overheat and trip safety sensors that shut the unit down. If the system strain is great enough, it might also crack the heat exchanger, which becomes a serious problem because it can release carbon monoxide.
To ensure efficient operation, save more money and extend the life of your furnace, check the filter monthly and replace it whenever you see that it’s dirty. The rule of thumb is to replace it at least every three months, but you might need to switch it out every two months in winter, when the system is working more often.
Efficient Furnace in Winter: No Obstructions
Blocked or clogged airways can interfere with proper operation in a few different ways.
For example, if you moved carpet or furniture but didn’t check nearby vents and registers, the airflow could be obstructed. The same situation can arise from toys, clothes or even long, heavy curtains that could be hindering airflow. Consider performing a sweep of your house to ensure there’s no interference with the movement of air into your spaces.
Airflow can be impeded by obstructions around the furnace as well. The unit should be clear of objects – especially flammable materials – within a three-to-five-foot radius. You’ll also want to sweep or vacuum any dirt and debris on and around the furnace.
Consider your blower vents too. Connected to your home’s exterior, these are the pipes that take warm air from inside the house and vent it outside. If they get too dirty and clogged, they can prevent proper airflow. This can become especially true if ice and snow gather around them. If you have questions or would like support with clearing blower vents, a Beery technician will be glad to assist you.
On a related note, be sure not to close air vents in certain rooms because you’re not using them. While the aim might be to conserve heat, closing the vents actually contributes to an air imbalance that can make the system work harder.
Efficient Furnace in Winter: Thermostat Setting
A great way to get more efficiency from your furnace while saving more money is to program your thermostat for cold weather. This means setting it to the lowest temperature that is comfortable for you at your home in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville or Lisle.
In many cases, setting it at 71° can be just as operable for comfort as at 72° or 73°. Lowering the thermostat by even 1 or 2 degrees can conserve energy that shows on your utility bills.
Similarly, if you go on vacation during winter, you don’t really need to keep the heat set at 72°, even if you have pets. You can consider setting the thermostat in the high 60s until you get home. If you don’t have pets, to prevent freezing of pipes, the temperature should never fall below 55°.
Today’s smart and programmable thermostats also let you increase your energy efficiency. You can schedule your system according to your work and household routines, such as an empty house from 8am–6pm and a full house on weekends. Setting these schedules conserves the furnace for peak times and lets it rest during unneeded hours.
Efficient Furnace in Winter: Additional Checklist
Beyond the main items we’ve discussed, you can contribute to a more-efficient furnace with better performance and lower costs in winter by checking off the following items:
◊ Flame sensor. The sensor detects whether the burner is lit. A dirty sensor may not notice the flame, which will make the system turn on and off repeatedly. If you don’t know how to clean the sensor, let your friends at Beery know and we can discuss it with you.
◊ Pilot light. The system won’t heat your home if the pilot is out. If you see a blue flame, that means the pilot is lit and working. If you don’t, it needs to be re-lit. If you don’t know how to relight the pilot safely, be sure to call Beery.
◊ Ceiling-fan rotation. The blades should move clockwise in winter. This draws cool air up and pushes gathered warm air down the walls and into your spaces. If the blades still run counter-clockwise (summer setting), the warm air will stay by the ceiling.
◊ Drafts. A decent amount of heated air can escape through cracks, slats and openings in windows and doors, including garage doors. Check for any drafts in those spots and seal them where you can.
◊ System maintenance. This is one of the best ways you can keep your furnace efficient while it keeps you comfortable, safe and warm and your house-bills account a little more full. A seasonal inspection and tune-up is a small investment for a larger return in system performance and usage.
Here for Answers and Service
Beery Heating and Cooling is here to support you when it’s cold out in Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield, Oswego, and Lisle (IL). Whether you have questions or need furnace maintenance, repair or replacement, our trained and certified technicians are ready to respond with the answers and solutions you need. Give us call at (630) 585-6444!