During the winter in Massachusetts, your HVAC system takes on a massive load to keep your home comfortable. However, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to optimize your HVAC system and keep energy costs low. Here are some tips to keep your heating system running reliably and efficiently all season long.

Maintenance and Tune-Up of Your Furnace

Keeping your furnace up to par is one of the most crucial parts of optimizing your HVAC system to carry you through the winter. Your furnace has to work hard to keep your home warm. Experts recommend annual maintenance and tune-ups for your furnace to continue operating optimally.

Change or Clean Air Filter

The air filter in your furnace blocks dirt, dust, and allergens from the air blown through the vents. The filter keeps the indoor air healthier and prevents contaminants from entering your heating unit. When this filter becomes full, it may clog and leave your furnace pushing harder to force air out. A filled filter also allows contaminants to enter the heating unit. A dirty furnace could lead to the failure of the mechanical components. Some furnaces have disposable filters that get tossed away and replaced every few months. Other furnaces have reusable filters that require cleaning as needed.

Inspect Mechanical Components

As your furnace ages, the mechanical components become worn out. Your furnace contains many individual components, each contributing differently to the overall operation of the unit. These parts may wear out individually before the HVAC unit is ready to retire. As part of annual maintenance, your HVAC technician will inspect the mechanical components of your furnace to check for damage and malfunction. If a part is not working or is badly worn, repair or replacement should happen as soon as possible to keep your furnace running efficiently.

Check Electric and Gas Connections

HVAC systems are either gas-powered or electric. Either way, your HVAC technician should inspect connections and venting for your system as a part of maintenance. Faulty electrical connections could lead to inefficiency and increased power bills. It can also be a fire risk. This increased workload leads to an increase in your heating bills. If your furnace is gas-powered, loose connections mean leaking gas or exhaust. This can cause air quality issues in your home and increase fire risk. Leaking gas lines also reduce efficiency, raising your utility bills.

Lubricate Moving Parts

Your furnace has moving parts that keep the machine running smoothly. These moving parts should be lubricated annually or as needed to lower the incidence of wear and tear caused by friction.

Calibrate Thermostat

Your thermostat allows you to control the temperature inside your house. If the thermostat does not accurately read the temperature, you could be cranking the heat higher and higher to maintain comfort. Your HVAC technician can look at the thermostat to check for accuracy. The technician does this by using an independent thermometer next to the thermostat and observing for differences. If a difference is noted, the technician will adjust the thermostat until the numbers match.

Inspect Ducts

The warm air from your furnace runs through your ducts and out of the vents to heat your home. If your ducts are blocked, the warm air will have nowhere to go. As part of annual maintenance, your HVAC technician will inspect your ductwork, ensuring nothing is blocking the airflow. The technician will also follow the ducts to look for cracks or unsealed connections. Any open space in the ductwork can let warm air out prematurely, leading to less heat ending up at your vents and heating your home efficiently. The US Department of Energy estimates that leaky or uninsulated ductwork can drop your system’s efficiency by 30%.

Use a Programmable or Smart Thermostat

A programmable thermostat helps you lower your energy consumption and cut some slack on your furnace. You should lower the temperature of your home while you are away. It is also a good idea to let the house get a little cooler at night while you are sleeping. You can program the thermostat to warm the house back up right before you arrive home or wake up in the morning. Some programmable thermostats even allow for scheduling different times on different days of the week, meaning you’ll rarely have to manually change the temperature on the thermostat.

Smart thermostats go a step further. These devices can be connected to your phone with a geofencing setting. This means that your system will know whether you are home or away and can adjust your indoor temperature automatically. When you begin heading home, your system can begin adjusting your indoor temperature to your preferred settings so that you arrive at a warm home. Some smart thermostats have occupancy sensors that you can place around the house. This allows it to optimize the temperature for the area of the home where you are spending time. This is especially effective in two-story homes. Since heat rises, your upper level may be warmer than your downstairs. Your furnace will only need to keep the upstairs at your preferred temperature if it realizes that everyone is upstairs.

Let the Sun Help With Heat

With the sun shining during the day, use that as a source of heat. Although it may not seem like much, the sun shining through your windows can be an excellent source of warmth. Open up your blinds and curtains during the day to let warmth inside. Once the sun goes down, close your blinds and curtains to shield some of the cold air out.

Close Off Unused Rooms or Areas

If you have an unused or rarely used room, ask your HVAC professional if it will help to seal it off in the winter. If they believe that it won’t hurt your venting scheme, then you can close the heat vents in the unused room, allowing more heat to flow to other areas of the house. Close the door to the room and seal it if needed to keep the cooler air inside and prevent warm air from going in.

Bundle Up With Extra Layers

Put on extra layers when lounging around the house to keep your furnace set to a lower temperature. Grab a cozy sweater or warm blanket and let your layers keep you warm. Fuzzy socks and thermal clothing are other fun and comfortable ways to stay warm. The more you can lower the temperature on the thermostat, the better. Lowering your furnace whenever possible keeps your utility bills lower and reduces stress on your furnace during the long winters in Massachusetts.

Lowering the hefty workload on your furnace and keeping up with proper maintenance are great ways to optimize your HVAC unit for winter months. Follow these easy and basic steps to extend the life of your furnace and lower your heating bills. The last thing you want to worry about in the dead of winter is how to stay warm when your furnace quits.

For heating maintenance and repairs, call on the trusted experts at DeWolfe Contracting Inc and rest easy knowing you’ll stay warm throughout the cold West Boylston, Massachusetts, winters. We can help you with heating and cooling installation, maintenance and repair. We have a team of certified plumbers that can repair, remodel or install new plumbing systems. Our contracting department can help with repairs, remodels or home additions.

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