The time to think about taking care of your home’s heating system is before the temperatures dip into freezing and you’re eyeing the thermostat in your house.
Not only can a few easy steps help maintain your whole-house heating system, but it may also prolong the life of your furnace, saving you money in the long run. And since heating your home typically makes up 42% of your utility bill, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how to take care of your heat-generating investment.
Yes, factors such as home size and gas rates can affect your utility bill, but so can the efficiency and care of your furnace.
These easy tips can help maintain the health and life of your furnace.
Most home furnace issues can be sourced back to a dirty filter. When you leave a dirty air filter in place, airflow is restricted, which leads to reduced energy efficiency, unnecessary wear and tear on your furnace and potential for overheating. Energy Star recommends checking your air filter every month, especially during months of heavy usage. At a minimum, you should be changing out your air filter every three months, to prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system. If you live with pets or in a house with a smoker, you may need to change the filter more often.
Studies show that the average six-room home in the United States collects up to 40 pounds of dust each year. Where this dust is coming from is entirely different questions that even scientists have been trying to answer. What we do know is that this dust is settling in your home’s air ducts, and is forming a thick layer on the inner walls. This dust not only is then circulated throughout the home, triggering allergies, but it can also damage your heating system.
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends cleaning your air ducts every three to five years, however where you live may have an impact on how frequently you clean your air ducts.
The blower motor is critical to pushing the warmed air through the heat exchanger, which is then distributed through the rest of the home. It’s important to ensure your house reaches the correct temperature. If your blower motor is running constantly but your house isn’t heating up, you may have a problem. If you don’t properly maintain the blower motor, it can break down. A trained technician can help you determine whether the issue is with the blower motor.
For your heating system to work as efficiently as possible, the heated air must be able to circulate completely in the system, and throughout the house. This means making sure all your vents are working properly and the air is flowing freely. Inspect your vents, remove any furniture, boxes or household items that may be blocking the flow of air. Allowing the system to work as intended means it’s working more efficiently and not as hard to heat your home.
Making sure your thermostat is in proper working order is an important step to caring for your home’s heating system. Before the cold season starts, turn up the thermostat and listen for the furnace to turn on, and continue running. If the furnace turns on, and then off after a short time, you may need to have your thermostat adjusted (either recalibrated or replaced) or your heat exchanger is malfunctioning. You will need to call a professional to inspect the unit.
One of the most important things you can do for your home heating system is to get it professionally inspected and tuned up once a year. It’s a great way to extend its lifespan and prevent future breakdowns. Most companies, like Santa Energy, offer heating system tune-ups. This means they will send a professional heating technician to your house to inspect, clean, and fine-tune the different components of your furnace.
While many of these things can be done on your own, if you don’t feel comfortable handling these tips, you should consider hiring a technician. A professional heating technician can address:
Ensuring your home’s furnace is running properly and efficiently is critical to a well-heated home to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to, in order to heat your home in the winter.
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. When we think about humidity, we tend to associate it with hot days and how insufferable it can make the summertime. However, humidity isn’t just a seasonal nuisance that frizzes your hair and makes you sweat. Paying attention to how much or little moisture you have in your home is crucial to your health and your home.
Learn why monitoring your humidity is important, how to check your home’s level, and what steps you can take to regulate the water vapor for comfortable, safe living.
When temperatures drop in the winter, the moisture gets sucked out of the air. The moisture also gets sucked out of your skin and body, making it feel tight and dry.
Heating systems in your home worsen the problem because they cause the air to absorb any form of moisture they can. Often, that means anybody in your home becomes the sufferer.
Low humidity in the winter creates:
Low humidity can also inflame and dry out the mucous membrane lining in your respiratory tract, which increases the risk of a cold, flu, and other infections.
The effects of low moisture can also take a toll on the items in your home. If the air in your home craves moisture, you may start to notice the splitting of wood floors or chipping of paint from your walls, which are two common locations that hold onto water vapor.
High humidity comes with a host of problems for your health and home as well.
With too much moisture in the air, you may notice:
Not only are these symptoms problematic to a homeowner because they will cost a pretty penny to repair, but they also come with another set of health issues to consider.
High humidity is the leading cause of mold and mildew growth in a home and can exacerbate — or create — asthma and allergy problems for your loved ones.
Too high, too low — what’s the right level? How do you know how much humidity is in your home?
To combat a home with too high or low humidity, keep your indoor humidity range between 40% and 60%.
There are a few ways you can check the level of humidity in your home:
Not all homes’ HVAC systems have a form of built-in humidity control. If your system doesn’t, you’ll need to find a solution that helps balance the water vapor levels in your home.
A cheap, effective and quick fix is buying a portable humidifier. These can be purchased for under $50 and offer immediate relief for small, dry rooms.
If you need a fix for the entire area of your home, it may be best to invest in a whole-home humidifier. High-quality residential humidifiers connect directly to your home heating system and can control the humidity levels throughout the entire home.
Alternative options to a humidifier:
Keeping the water vapor levels consistent, and within the recommended range of 40% and 60% will keep you safe, comfortable and happy this winter season.
Looking for more tips to keep your home comfortable and efficient this winter? Check out these great resources: