5 Must-Know Furnace Service Hacks to Save Money and Energy

In the cold winter months, your furnace provides essential warmth to your home, not just keeping you comfortable but safe and healthy. Your furnace is one of the most important parts of your home, but you may not give it much thought unless something goes wrong. With the heavy use in winter, your furnace takes a lot of stress and wear and tear that can hurt its lifespan and efficiency – not to mention your energy bills. If you want to improve your furnace’s performance, here are 5 must-know furnace service hacks to save money and energy from the pros at Moore Home Services. Key Takeaways:
  • Small tasks like replacing air filters and optimizing your thermostat usage can go a long way to improve your furnace’s efficiency.
  • In addition to DIY measures, it’s important to schedule regular furnace service to keep your system in optimal condition.

1. Replace Air Filters

Replacing your air filters is a simple task that every homeowner should know how to do. Air filters are important for maintaining your indoor air quality by trapping dust, dirt, pollen, and other contaminants to keep them from ending up in your furnace and your home’s indoor air.
  Over time, filters can become clogged with contaminants, restricting the airflow. Your furnace will have to work harder to pump out warmed air, reducing its efficiency and increasing your energy bills. Ideally, you should replace your filters every one to three months. How often you replace your air filters depends on the type of filter you have and the level of pollutants in your home. For example, if you live in a dusty area or have a lot of pets, your air filter may get dirtier than normal.

2. Optimize Your Thermostat Usage

Your thermostat controls your furnace’s operation and energy consumption. If you’re not paying attention to how you use your thermostat, you could be wasting money without even knowing it. For example, leaving your thermostat on a constant temperature makes your furnace work much harder to heat your home – even when you’re not there. You don’t need a cozy temperature when you’re away, unless you have sensitive family members at home, or overnight while you’re sleeping. In fact, it’s best to sleep with slightly cooler temperatures.
You should also avoid cranking the heat up and leaving it up. Though it may be nice to have a toasty home, keeping the temperature high makes your furnace work at a constant pace to keep up, adding a lot of stress and wear. If you want to make this easier, consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat. These thermostats have features to set different temperatures according to your schedule. You can set the temperatures lower overnight or while you’re at work and schedule them to be a little warmer by the time you wake up or arrive home. Smart thermostats take the programmable thermostat a step further with remote control features and learning algorithms that adapt to your preferences and schedule over time. So, instead of setting the temperatures yourself, your thermostat will learn when you leave for work, when you arrive home, when you go to bed, and more, automatically adjusting the temperature to your needs.

3. Seal and Insulate Your Home

If your home’s insulation is damaged or insufficient, you can lose a lot of your heated air to drafts and leaks. When a lot of your heated air is lost to the outdoors, you will be paying high energy bills and stressing your furnace without getting the comfort you want. There are several common culprits for drafts and leaks:
  • Windows and doors:Windows and doors are usually the first places to experience gaps that cause drafts. Check the weather stripping on your windows and doors and replace it as needed. This small measure can make a world of difference in your home’s comfort and your furnace’s efficiency.
  • Gaps and cracks:If there are gaps and cracks around your windows, doors, walls, or other openings in your home that weather stripping can’t fix, caulking is an easy DIY solution that you can use to seal them.
  • Attic and walls:Insulation issues in the attic and walls can let a lot of heat escape your home. Check the insulation in your attic and walls to ensure that it’s sufficient. If not, you can replace it yourself or hire a professional contractor.
  • Ductwork:Ductwork is another area that can have gaps or cracks that allow air to escape. You can use caulking or duct sealing to shore up gaps and holes, or contact a professional to inspect your ductwork and find any sources of heat loss.

4. Use Ceiling Fans to Circulate Warm Air

Ceiling fans are often used to cool your home in the summer, but they can serve a valuable purpose in winter. Hot air rises, so you could end up pumping out heat only for it to end up trapped near your ceiling. Reversing the direction of your ceiling fan can push this warmed air back down and into your living spaces for more comfort without raising the thermostat.
Here’s how to use your ceiling fan to your advantage:
  1. Locate the reverse switch to change the direction of the blade rotation to counterclockwise. This creates an updraft that pushes warm air back down to the floor.
  2. Adjust the fan speed to a low or medium setting to gently circulate warm air. If it’s operating too quickly, it will create more of a cool breeze.
  3. Turn on the ceiling fans in rooms where people tend to gather, such as the living room or great room.

5. Perform Some DIY Maintenance

It’s important to schedule professional furnace service at least once a year. But in between appointments, you can take small steps to help your furnace run at its best and maximize efficiency to save money and prevent repairs.
  Here are some tips:
  • Monitor furnace cycling:Frequent furnace short cycling can indicate that there’s a problem with your thermostat or other components.
  • Check for airflow issues:Ensure that your vents and air returns are not blocked by furniture or other obstructions, which can prevent airflow and harm your furnace’s performance.
  • Check for unusual noises:Pay attention to the sound your furnace makes during normal operation. If you hear loud noises like grinding, rattling, banging, or clanging, it could indicate loose or damaged components that require repair.
  • Pay attention to strong odors:Your furnace will have some smells that are normal during operation, such as a dusty smell or burning smell when you first light it for the season. If the smells persist or become strong, contact a professional HVAC technician. If you smell rotten eggs, it could be a gas leak. Contact emergency services immediately.
  • Monitor the pilot light:Older furnaces have a pilot light that should burn with a steady blue flame. If the flame is flickering or yellow, it could indicate a problem with the gas supply or combustion process.
  • Inspecting your venting system:Vents can get blockages or damage that can hinder your furnace’s safety and efficiency. Make it a habit to check the venting system regularly.
  • Test carbon monoxide detectors:If your furnace uses natural gas, ensure that your carbon monoxide detectors are installed on every floor and near sleeping areas. You should test them regularly to ensure they’re working properly.
  • Inspect wiring:Your furnace will have some visible wires that can become damaged from power surges, excess heat, or other causes. Check your visible wiring for fraying or other signs of wear and contact a professional HVAC technician for a repair.
  • Clean around your furnace:The area around your furnace should always be clean and free of debris, dust, and flammable materials. Make sure to check around your furnace and clean around it on a regular basis.

What to Expect from Professional Furnace Maintenance

Preventative furnace maintenance plays a big part in keeping your furnace running smoothly and efficiently. A professional HVAC technician will inspect your entire system and identify any problems before they can turn into big repairs that are expensive and inconvenient to fix. Regular maintenance also ensures that your furnace is operating properly and safely, so you can have peace of mind.
  • Your furnace tune-up may include a wide range of tasks, such as:
  • Lubricating the motor bearings and other moving parts
  • Checking and adjusting fan belt tension
  • Tightening all electrical connections
  • Checking the current and voltage
  • Testing the exhaust system
  • Inspecting and cleaning the burners
  • Verifying and adjusting gas pressure
  • Testing the ignition system
  • Checking connections to gas or oil lines
  • Inspecting the condensate drain and clearing it
  • Testing and verifying system controls
  • Cleaning the interior and exterior of the furnace
  • Changing the air filter
  • Testing carbon monoxide levels
  • Inspecting and calibrating the thermostat
Regular furnace maintenance is an often overlooked part of home maintenance for some homeowners, but it’s an essential part of preventative care. Your furnace experiences wear and tear over the course of each heating season, decreasing reliability and efficiency. It’s important to schedule furnace service at least once a year to ensure that your system is operating properly and prepared for the hard work of winter. Though it may seem like you’re “fixing something that isn’t broken,” the payoff is fewer major repairs, lower heating bills, and more safety.

Schedule Furnace Service

These 5 must-know furnace service hacks to save money and energy can help you do your part to ensure that your furnace is operating at its best all season long. But along with your DIY measures, it’s important to schedule furnace service with a professional HVAC technician like Moore Home Services. Contact us today to make an appointment!