Who are we to argue with a groundhog? If Phil says we have six more weeks of winter, we should all take heed and ensure our systems are equipped to handle cold temps for a bit longer this year.
We might have a score to settle with Punxsutawney Phil, but for now, we are busy preparing for an extra-long winter season. We’re sharing some tips to be sure your furnace is in good working condition until warmer weather arrives.
1. Change Your Filter
Your furnace filter has an important job: to keep debris and dirt out of your HVAC system. Not only does it help keep your indoor air cleaner, but it also keeps your system healthy.
A good rule of thumb is to change your filter every 90 days. However, depending on the size of your home, whether you have pets, how many people live in your home, how much your system runs, and what type of filter you use can all affect how often you need to change it. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations on the filter brand for care instructions.
Ignoring your furnace filter can cause unnecessary wear on your system’s delicate internal components by allowing dirt and debris to gather inside the equipment worsening performance and possibly leading to damage. Not only is your system at risk of breakdown, but you’ll notice higher energy bills and poor air quality if your filters are left unchanged for too long.
2. Get A Tune-Up
There is still time if you haven’t scheduled a furnace tune-up yet this year. Beyond just keeping your system running optimally, annual furnace tune-ups can help:
- Maintain your warranty
- Avoid breakdowns and costly repairs
- Save on energy costs
- Keep your home and family safe
- Improve indoor air quality
3. Care For Your Vents And Returns
This may seem minor, but taking some time to inspect the vents and returns in your home can help improve the air you breathe and how heat flows through your home.
For your HVAC system to “breathe” it inhales air from returns and exhales heated air into the rooms of your home through vents. If your returns and vents are blocked, dirty, or damaged it negatively affects the airflow in your home.
- Clean returns and vents with the dust attachment of your vacuum
- Be sure all vents and returns are open and not blocked by furniture or rugs
- Remove vent covers and clean in soapy water allowing to air dry
Not only does taking care of your vents and returns keep your air cleaner and flowing efficiently, it can also keep excess dirt and debris from reaching your filter and duct work.
4. Eliminate Heat Loss
Have your energy bills been higher this year? Has your furnace been running constantly to keep up with cold temperatures? You may need to inspect your home for sources of heat loss.
Sealing up leaks and drafts can greatly impact the comfort level of your home. Check major sources of heat loss like:
- External Doors
- Light fixtures and outlets
Stopping leaks can be easy and inexpensive with a trip to the local hardware store. Simply replacing worn weatherstripping around doors, covering leaky windows with film, or caulking around door and window frames can greatly impact your family’s comfort this winter.
5. Check Your Thermostat
According to Energy Star, 68 is the ideal indoor temperature during the winter. But, having your thermostat installed incorrectly can cause what’s called a “ghost reading.” This means your thermostat is triggered to run unnecessarily if it’s placed near sunlight, doorways, or drafty areas causing your furnace to run more often.
Beyond temperature settings and thermostat placement, you can save as much as 10% annually on your energy bills by lowering your temperatures 7-10 degrees when you’re away or asleep.
The easiest way to perform temperature setbacks is with a programmable thermostat. Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, by using a digital thermostat, your home will be heated to your preferred temperature before you wake or return from being out of the home.
6. Make An Upgrade
A properly maintained furnace can last as long as 20-30 years. If your furnace is older, be on the lookout for signs that your furnace may be ready for an upgrade:
- Repair costs are becoming greater and more frequent
- Energy bills are increasing more than normal
- Your system runs constantly
- You have uneven temperatures in your home
- Unusual smells or sounds
- Poor indoor air quality
The pros at Legacy can help create a plan that works for your home and budget when it comes to upgrading your HVAC system.
If you are doubtful of Phil’s accuracy (after all, his track record is less than 50%) and want to get a jump start on spring, we recommend getting an AC Tune Up on your calendar. If it’s been more than five years since your duct work was cleaned professionally, we recommend adding that to your spring cleaning for cleaner air, better efficiency, and a healthier home.
Keep an eye on our offers page and get your spring HVAC maintenance scheduled easily online.