8 Green Tips to Winterize your Furnace and Heating
Heating expenses are usually a home’s largest utility cost during the winter months. Having a well-tuned furnace with clean filters and well-sealed ducts will help to minimize your home heating expenses.
✔ Give your heater a checkup – At the beginning of each heating season, it is a good idea to have your heater inspected by a qualified technician. Many local utilities and furnace manufacturers offer free or discounted rates for furnace inspections. They will not only keep your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted, but they will also be able to advise you when it is time for an upgrade.
✔ Consider upgrading your furnace to a more energy-efficient model – The lifespan of heating systems can be considerable, in some cases lasting up to 50 years. Before replacing your system, it is important to understand how your system is currently operating. By having a qualified technician inspect your system at the beginning of each season, you will be able to make an informed decision whether it is time to upgrade.
If it is time, consider getting an EnergyStar certified furnace. An EnergyStar certified furnace can save your 15% to 20% versus a new standard model. You could save up to 50% or more compared to many older furnaces that are still in operation.
✔ Change your filters – It is important to replace or clean your furnace filter once a month while your heater is in operation. Dirty filters will restrict air flow and cause your heater to run less efficiently. A convenient way to remember to do this is to designate the first of the month as the day to change filters.
✔ Upgrade your filters – There are different types of furnace filters available on the market, beside the disposable fiberglass filters most people use. While these filters can cost more, they can also deliver significant benefits.
- Electrostatic Filters – Electrostatic filters trap approximately 88% of debris, much higher than standard fiberglass filters (which capture between 10 and 40% of debris).
- HEPA Filters – HEPA filters can remove up to 99.97% of the debris.
✔ Set your ceiling fans to run in reverse – As a good rule-of-thumb, whenever you have your first frost of the season or when you set your clocks back from daylight-savings time, it is time to reverse
the flow of your ceiling fans. Fans rotating in a clockwise direction will make your room warmer. Warmer air that is near the ceiling is circulated back down into the room.
✔ Do not heat unoccupied areas of your home – Heating unoccupied areas of your home could be accounting for a significant portion of your heating bill. By lowering the thermostat settings for those areas, closing heating vents, and keeping doors closed, you could both lower the heating load and the heating costs for your home.
✔ Install a programmable thermostat – Install an EnergyStar labeled programmable thermostat, and program it to change the temperature settings when you are away from home and at night. EPA estimates that EnergyStar-labeled programmable thermostats can save consumers 10-15% on heating and cooling bills when used properly.
✔ Properly maintain your heating system – A system that is not maintained properly can be much less efficient and cost significantly more to operate. Proper maintenance includes cleaning and replacing air filters, keeping the interior of the furnace free of dust and spider webs, keep registers and radiators unblocked, bleed trapped air from radiators, and draining sediment from steam boilers, and making sure that the shot or ribbon burners in your furnace are in good condition.
✔ Make sure your ducts are clean and properly sealed – If a home does not have properly sealed ducts, they could be loosing up to 30% of a heaters air flow. Ducts can be found in the attic, the basement and in crawlspaces. Be sure to repair places where pipes are pinched (which impedes air flow), and where there are gaps. Gaps can be sealed with metal-backed tape which can be found at any DIY store. Finally, make sure your ducts are clean. It is recommended to have your ducts cleaned every 3 years. If considerable dust and debris have collected over this time, you may want to consider getting this done every 2 years.