Winter is nearly here in the Twin Cities, and for many people, that means pricey energy bills for months on end. If you’re one of those people and your heating bills are consistently higher than you’d like, taking steps to improve your furnace’s operational efficiency can help.
How do you do that? Here are seven simple things you can do to help improve your furnace efficiency.
1. Ensure Filters Are Clean
Your furnace filter is designed to prevent dust and debris from traveling into the unit and clogging up its components. When you don’t swap out your filter regularly, it can get excessively dirty and your furnace must then work harder to pull air through the clogged filter, reducing the unit’s efficiency.
That’s why routine filter changes are so important. How often should you swap out your filter?
That depends on a few different factors, including:
● How often you dust and clean
● Whether you have pets and how many you have
● Whether you or anyone in your household smokes indoors
● Whether anyone in your home has allergies
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to change your filter at 4- to 6-week intervals or anytime you notice debris buildup on its surface.
2. Give the Furnace Plenty of Space
If you want your furnace to function at maximum efficiency, it needs plenty of air circulation in its immediate area. But most furnaces are situated in a basement, a garage, or an attic — places where most people store all of their extra stuff. That stuff sometimes ends up accumulating around the unit, which, unfortunately, can reduce its operational capacity.
If there’s currently stuff around your furnace, it’s time to move it somewhere else. You’ll want to maintain a three- to five-foot radius of empty space around your furnace at all times, both for efficiency and safety reasons.
3. Schedule Routine Furnace Cleaning
Like any appliance, your furnace can accumulate dust and debris buildup on its operational components, and that buildup can negatively impact its performance. That’s why annual furnace cleaning and maintenance are so important.
If you’re the DIY type, you can do the job yourself, but keep in mind that a professional furnace cleaning specialist will also assess your unit for potential issues that can reduce its efficiency.
Scheduling a yearly furnace cleaning appointment just before winter is the best way to stay abreast of any problems your unit may have. That way, you can handle necessary furnace repairs before the weather takes a turn for the worse.
4. Keep Your Ductwork Clean
Dirty, clogged ductwork cannot circulate warm air throughout your home as efficiently as it should. If you’ve never had professional duct cleaning or it’s been several years since your last appointment, consider scheduling air duct cleaning service before the worst winter weather hits.
How exactly does duct cleaning help improve your furnace efficiency, though? To start, professional air duct cleaning removes all traces of dust and other debris from within your home’s duct network. Getting rid of that debris allows air to flow through the ducts more efficiently since there’s no longer any buildup impeding its path of travel.
When air can flow through the ducts without interruption because they’re no longer constricted by debris buildup, your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to propel warm air into your home. And that automatically means the furnace will operate more efficiently, which you’ll see reflected in your monthly heating costs.
Think you’d like to try your hand at cleaning your own ductwork? If so, check out What You Should Know Before Cleaning Your Ducts, so you know what to expect.
5. Ensure Ducts Are Intact and Properly Sealed
If your ductwork is fairly old, there’s always a chance it has cracks, holes, or other forms of damage that allow air to leak out of the duct network. Even if it isn’t old, it may have loose joints that can allow up to 20% of your heated air (that you’re paying for!) to escape.
When air leaks out of the ducts before it reaches the rooms in your home, your furnace must work longer and harder than necessary to maintain the temperature setting on your thermostat. That’s why performing routine air duct inspections is so important.
Regularly inspecting ductwork for signs of damage and/or deterioration will allow you to identify areas in need of attention. And once you know where those areas are, you can seal up any loose seams, cracks, and/or holes that waste warm air and diminish your furnace efficiency.
Check out our blog, How to Determine Whether You Need Duct Cleaning, Repair, or Replacement for info on air duct lifespan and identifying potential air duct issues.
6. Maintain Appropriate Relative Humidity Levels
In Minnesota, our air can get pretty dry throughout winter, and unfortunately, dry air doesn’t hold heat as well as slightly humid air. If the air in your home is very arid, your furnace will end up working harder and longer than is really necessary to maintain a constant indoor temperature. But remedying that efficiency issue is simple: use a humidifier during the winter months.
Ideally, you should keep your home’s relative humidity between 30% and 50% to maintain good indoor air quality. If yours is below that level, it’s a good idea to get a whole-house humidifier or a few smaller units to not only improve furnace efficiency but also prevent health issues like dry skin and sinus irritation.
7. Keep Your Thermostat Set to “Auto”
If you don’t already keep your HVAC fan set to the “auto” setting, now is the time to change your ways. When that fan is set to the “on” setting, it will stay on continually and can waste quite a bit of energy if it doesn’t really need to be on.
But when you set the fan to “auto,” it will only run when your thermostat detects a discrepancy between its temperature setting and the temperature of your home’s ambient air.
Schedule Furnace Cleaning & Maintenance With Dust Doctors
Ready to improve your furnace’s efficiency? Let our team at Dust Doctors help you out! We specialize in furnace cleaning and repair, duct cleaning, and indoor air quality improvement services for homeowners in Little Canada, MN, and the surrounding Twin Cities metro.
To schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can help you, call us today at 651-319-9777 or request a free service quote online.
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