One of the most costly appliances to operate in a home is the furnace. And while electric furnaces can cost quite a bit more than gas to operate, both types can spike your utility bills in the winter months. But there are a few tips for maintaining any type of furnace that can keep your costs lower.
Replace the air filter
Replacing the air filter in your furnace is the easiest and cheapest way to keep your furnace operating smoothly. You should replace your filter every three months or so, especially during the months your furnace gets the most use. A filter will typically cost you under $20, but it can save you up to 15 percent on your utility costs over the course of a year. Air filters are easy to find at your local retail or hardware store. And the easiest way to figure out what size you need to buy is to take your old one out and take note of the measurements printed on the edge. If you have trouble finding the size, you can take the old one with you for comparison.
Clean your air ducts
An openly circulating airflow will keep your furnace operating at its optimal level all year long. Blocked vents, dust, and loose seals can all limit the air that moves in and out of your vents. Keep furniture and other objects away from your vents. Remove vent covers and vacuum the openings and covers thoroughly to remove dust. And check all your ductwork for loose parts, punctures, or blockages. You can certainly take care of this yourself if you know how to get to all your ductwork. But most people hire professionals for the job.
Get an HVAC tune-up
It’s a good idea to have your HVAC unit inspected either annually or semi-annually to keep it running well and prolong the life of the unit. In fact, some companies offer heating contracts and will help you maintain your furnace year round. And because furnaces and other HVAC units are particularly expensive investments, it pays to have professionals keeping it tuned up and free from damage.
Winterize your home
Although winterizing your home is not a direct furnace maintenance item, it could add years to the life of your unit. Drafty houses are one of the main factors in a heater working much harder than it has to. It’s therefore important to seal off as many drafts as you can. First, check around the unit to make sure there are no air leaks around it. Then use weather stripping around doors and windows to create tight seals.
Lower your thermostat
According to Energy Star, lowering your thermostat by just 7-10℉ for eight hours a day can save as much as 10 percent per year on energy costs. You can do this while you’re away at work so you’ll probably never even notice the difference. But energy is not all this maneuver will save. It will also ensure that your heater doesn’t have to work as hard and will slow your house’s heat loss.
Reverse your ceiling fans
Ceiling fans are designed to be reversed to either push hot air down or pull it up. During the summer months, you’ll run the fans counter-clockwise to circulate cool air and pull some of the hot air from the room. But during the winter, you can switch it to run clockwise to circulate heat and force it back down. Making this small adjustment will allow you to operate your furnace at lower temperatures, saving wear and tear and higher energy costs.