Is your home heating system ready for winter? If you’re anything like most homeowners, you probably haven’t paid it much mind in several months. Now that the cold is creeping in, though, it’s time to prepare your system for a period of heavy usage. Following these simple HVAC maintenance tips can help ensure efficient operation all winter long.
1. Change Air Filters
Before even testing your heating system, make sure the air filters in your furnace are clean. When clogged with dirt, dust, and debris, filters can put added stress on your entire heating system. Operational efficiency may be reduced by as much as 15 percent, which means higher energy bills. Emptying and replacing filters on a regular basis can also remove the environmental allergens from the air before they reach people who suffer from asthma and allergies. According to most HVAC experts, air filters should be changed every two-to-three months in order to maintain optimal efficiency.
2. Check Thermostat Settings
The purpose of your HVAC system is to keep you comfortable with conditioned air. When using the heat, the recommended winter setting is 68 degrees Fahrenheit (room temperature). At this setting, the indoor environment should be comfortable for most occupants. If you would like to raise it higher, it is important to note that each degree over room temperature will add one to two percent to your energy bill. On the other hand, if you lower the temperature while away, you can save about the same amount.
3. Examine Ducts
According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home loses between 20 and 30 percent of the air that moves through its ducts due to holes, leaks, and poorly connected parts. But with a little patience and a good ear, homeowners can listen for any air that may be escaping from ductwork. Once identified, minor problems can often be inexpensively addressed by a professional. It is also strongly recommended that you have that same professional inspect your ducts for problems with a pressure test every few years.
4. Clear the Vents
A common problem in homes with central heating is that vents often get blocked with dust and pet hair after months of inactivity. Cleaning these areas should not only improve overall operating efficiency, but also reduce the amount of dust, debris, and allergens circulating through your home. For those with radiators or baseboard systems, it is important to keep the heating elements unobstructed. Blocking them with furniture or other objects will prevent conditioned air from circulating throughout the area.
5. Get a Tune-Up
Want total peace of mind? Scheduling an HVAC tune-up is the best way to ensure optimal performance over the entire winter season. In addition to adjusting and cleaning your furnace, the home service pro will make sure all parts are in tip-top shape. If small problems are uncovered, they can be repaired before they turn into major, expensive issues.
Follow these simple HVAC maintenance tips to ensure reliable and efficient operation of your home heating system.