Colder weather is on the way and many heating and air conditioning companies in the East are seeing business pick up.
”If you want to stay warm in your home and you want to stay comfortable,” says Walt Pollard, owner of Same Pollard & Son Heating, Air Conditioning, and Plumbing. “You don’t want it to let you down. You certainly need to pay attention to it.”
Winter is coming, and now’s the time to make sure your heating system is up to the task. Before you crank up the heat for the first time this season, a certified technician should give your system a routine checkup.
”The big points are making sure that gas pressure is proper inside the system,” says Pollard. “That it’s being fed to the system properly.”
If the pressure is too high or too low, your furnace won’t work as efficiently as it should. A technician will also check all components to make sure they’re clean and working properly. On average, a checkup will run you about $150, but higher efficiency could end up saving you big time on future heating bills. Heating and cooling costs make up about half of your energy bill every year. There are some things you can do yourself to get the most out of your system.
”Making sure that that air filter is good and clean is a big, big thing with efficiency of equipment,” says Pollard. “Also, that keeps the furnace from overheating and it also makes sure that air is distributed properly throughout the home.”
It’s also a good idea to vacuum floor vents and make sure all of your duct work is sealed and properly insulated.
Carbon monoxide deaths tend to go up during the winter, so now is also a good time to make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Here are some more tips on getting the most out of your home heating system:
HEATING AND COOLING TIPS
- Set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer, and — depending on the season — raise or lower the setpoint when you’re sleeping or away from home.
- Clean or replace filters on furnaces and air conditioners once a month or as recommended.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
- Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if unsure about how to perform this task, contact a professional.
- Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
- Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
- During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- During summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to block the sun’s heat.
LONG-TERM SAVINGS TIPS
- Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage.
- For furnaces, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR® models on the market that exceed 90% AFUE. For air conditioners, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners. ENERGY STAR models are 14.5 SEER or more.