If you live in an area that experiences cold temperatures in the winter, your heating system may seem like it’s been running nearly nonstop for the past few months. Furnaces and boilers use a lot of energy to help keep your home warm. In turn, this can lead to expensive utility bills. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help make your heating system more efficient. Ultimately, this can also lead to lower bills, and potentially fewer breakdowns and/or repairs for your unit.
Here are a few tips for improving your heater’s efficiency:
1. Change the filter
Many homeowners may not understand the importance of changing their system’s air filter on a routine basis. The filter is responsible for trapping dirt, dust, hair, and other airborne pollutants. As time goes on, the filter can get clogged with these materials, and this makes it difficult for air to pass through. This doesn’t just cause problems for your home’s indoor air quality, but it can also cause your furnace to work much harder than necessary. This could lead to premature wear and tear on your unit’s components, and eventually lead to an expensive breakdown.
If you aren’t sure what type of filter your heater needs, or if you aren’t sure how often you need to change the filter, check your system’s owner’s manual. Not sure where the owner’s manual may be? The general rule of thumb to follow with a filter is to change it every month during peak heating season. You may need to change it more frequently if you have pets in your home, or individuals who smoke.
As for which filter you should use, you will need to pick a replacement with a MERV-rating between 6-13, as suggested by the U.S. Department of Energy. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, and it’s essentially a measure of how efficient the filter is at keeping pollutants out of the air inside your home. A filter with too high of a MERV-rating will make it difficult for the system to even push air through a clean filter! A filter with too low of a MERV-rating will constantly need to be replaced.
2. Schedule annual maintenance
You should schedule a yearly tune-up appointment for your heating system with an industry expert. A professional will examine all working parts of your unit to be sure things are working as they should. He or she will also clear the system of dust and other debris, and let you know if there are any potential problems that should be taken care of before the issue results in a breakdown.
Not sure whom to call for maintenance? At Pivotal Home Solutions, we offer an affordable Heating Maintenance Plan which includes a 20-point heating tune-up performed by an expert. Routine maintenance will help your family’s heating system to run efficiently all season long and may also help prevent an untimely breakdown.
3. Seal ducts
Your ductwork is responsible for delivering heated or conditioned air to all rooms in your family’s home. It’s wise to have your ducts examined by a professional on a regular basis so he or she can determine if there are any cracks, holes, or leaks. Leaky ductwork can be responsible for nearly 30% of energy loss in a home.
Areas of air loss inside your ducts can often be easily repaired by a professional with the use of a sealant or special metal tape. If a portion of your ductwork needs to be replaced, this is a job that can also usually be taken care of quickly by an expert. He or she may also suggest adding an extra layer of insulation around your ducts to help with trapping conditioned air inside.
4. Program your thermostat
Before going to bed, and before leaving home for the day, adjust your thermostat to a lower temperature. Doing so may help you save nearly 10% on your monthly utility bills.
Many homeowners may think this is a tip they aren’t able to reap the benefits from if they don’t have a programmable unit installed, but that isn’t true. If you have an older thermostat installed, it’s more of a manual process to adjust it but can easily be done, and you can still save energy using this method.
Bonus tip: Upgrade an outdated system when necessary
If your heating system has been experiencing frequent breakdowns, or is 10+ years old, it may be time to consider replacement. While this may be a costly investment upfront, you will save money over the long run on your energy bills. A professional heating technician will be able to assist you with choosing a replacement unit for your home’s heating needs.