If you’re among those men and women who don’t consider the heater before it is freezing and you need to adjust the thermostat, then I’m here to tell you: Your heating system requires your care today. A few simple actions in the autumn will mean you’re not waiting for an HVAC technician to come out for a costly weekend service visit on the coldest night of the year. Even if you’re the kind who religiously changes the filter in your furnace, you can still improve your system’s efficiency and save yourself some cash.
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1. Have a professional support your heating system. My guess is that your furnace does not look like the modern, pristine model in this picture. It probably sits in a basement, garage or closet, dismissed until you turn on the thermostat and nothing happens. Unless your furnace or boiler is brand new, you should have it periodically serviced by a professional to help keep it running cleanly and economically. But there are lots of different things you can and should do in order to prepare for the heating system.
2. Bleed radiators and change filters. Most homes have either forced-air systems or radiators. If you have hot-water springs, you most likely know you need to “bleed” them to allow air from the system at the start of the heating system. To begin with, start the boiler and let it heat up, making sure the circulator pump is operating. (The circulator pump is a football-size engine attached to the pipes someplace near the boiler) Open the valve on every radiator and have a container close by to grab the water. When it is water and not air coming out, close the valve. If you hear air come out then it stops, but you don’t get water, close the valve and continue on to a different one, come back once the system has heated up more.
When you have a forced-air system (registers throughout the home blow out air), then you can improve its performance by ensuring the filter in the furnace is not clogged. How many times you need to change the filter will depend on your individual home and system. Test it every month or 2 until you have a sense of the right pattern, then place future dates to change it in your calendar. There should be at least one large grille in the home, usually close to the furnace, that does not blow out air — that is actually the return. Make certain you keep rugs and furniture away from this to keep air flowing.
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3. Improve efficiency and save money. As soon as you’ve taken care of the basics, you can produce your heating system function more efficiently by making it more smarter. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, then it is worth looking into one — that they are comparatively simple to install, and once you plan the warmth to come on when you actually need it, then you won’t waste money heating a vacant house.
If your microwave is continuously blinking 12:00 and programming is not your strong suit, the Nest thermostat can find out your daily rhythms and application. And if mere programming will not satisfy your requirement for technology, there are lots of thermostats which you can control remotely via your smart phone or computer. But be sure to locate and purchase technology that you’ll actually use.
Another thing: A thermostat just turns a heater on or off. In contrast to popular belief, turning the temperature up way won’t create the home heat up any faster.
4. Keep it moving. Those ceiling fans in your home shouldn’t just gather dust once the warm weather passes. To disperse heat throughout the area, locate the little button on the main body of the fan that reverses the fan’s direction. When you don’t feel that a breeze, then that means the fan is blowing air up, trapping air without cooling the room. Hot air trapped in the ceiling will be forced down along the walls. You will feel warmer, and the thermostat will probably be fulfilled saving you cash.
If you have ductwork observable in the home (usually in the loft, basement or crawl space), you can increase the efficiency of this system by sealing all the joints with duct mastic, a putty you can trowel spray or on out with a caulk gun to permanently keep the ducts from draining hot air. Duct tape is good for a lot of things, but sealing ducts isn’t among these.
5. Be secure. Considering that the furnace is often in the basement, it tends to coexist with our stuff. Things pile up, and someone may leave flammable things close to the heater’s flue pipe. Keep the region around the furnace clean so that it can both draw in air and exhaust properly and safely.
As well as smoke detectors, you should have carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms along with the heater, and ideally on each floor. Carbon monoxide is less dense than air, and as it’s usually warmer, will likely rise through the home, even to upper-level bedrooms. Hundreds die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S. each year.
When you have a fireplace, have the chimney cleaned. If you don’t use the fireplace, then stop hot air from escaping out this massive hole utilizing this flue damper or installing a chimney balloon.
More: Fall Fixes: Get Your Fireplace Cold-Weather Ready