Advice From the Pros

Surviving Without Heat

How to Survive Without Heat This Winter

Surviving Without Heat

 

It’s cold outside, but Winter is a great time to save money on utilities. Unlike Summer when, here in Texas at least, air conditioning is practically mandatory, there are several ways to stay warm at home throughout the winter without cranking up that heater. Maybe you’ve found yourself without electricity or with a broken furnace for a short time, as well. Here are a few tips to stay warm and happy this winter with no heat:

Reduce as much heat loss as possible

Put blankets over all the windows and outside doors, and bean bag draft busters at the base of every door.  Shut off as many outside doors as you can to porches or the garage.  Close off any rooms you aren’t using and put draft busters at the bottoms of those doors.  This creates an air buffer zone that will help reduce temperature fluctuations.

Adding Insulation Supercharges Your Walls

Check your insulation. Insulated walls and windows are standard these days, but if you have an older home, you may need to add some insulation. Heat rises, so it’s important to insulate the ceiling especially well. If you have an attic, insulating it, and even filling the space with storage, can help keep the heat from escaping.

Dress warmly!

This is not the time to run around in your bathing suit. Go with socks, gloves, hats, tights, sweaters, and coats. Pick your favorite most comfortable sweaters and pants.  At a time like this being cozy is of utmost importance. Body heat is a beautiful thing when you need to keep warm. Keep it.  You can increase your body heat with activity.  Do some jumping jacks or run in place.

Eat warming foods.

Soup is your friend. Warm spices such as red pepper, ginger, cinnamon will also help you feel warmer.  Now is not the time to worry about calories.  There are reasons that winter seasons come with hearty, rich foods.  If ever there was a time to thoroughly appreciate a hot meal, this is it.

Keep Warm Safely

Be careful about using alternative heating sources.  Carbon monoxide will kill you a lot faster than being cold will.  Don’t use propane or outdoor barbecues in enclosed spaces.  Get a carbon monoxide detector. Also, be careful with candles or other open flames to avoid fire hazards.

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Heating Equipment

Common Heating Components Explained

Heating Components

It’s so wonderful to live in a home with a well-running heating system. The comfort and peace of mind are unmatched, which typically means that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. Have you ever wondered how those heating components work?

Most homes have heating components to produce heat, which combines heat and air into one ventilating system using ducts to distribute the cooled or heated air. The furnace is the main functioning part of an HVAC system. Furnaces run off of either electricity or a gas burner, but whichever your home has, the parts are similar.

Furnace

The furnace is the control tower for your entire heating system. All of the work is done here, and this is where most of the parts to your heating system reside. It is the central system where all of the heating is done. It is usually a large metal box located in a closet, basement, or attic.

Cold Air Return/Intake

Heating a home begins with the cold air return, also known as the intake for furnaces that run off of air from the outside. Both returns and intakes will have a filter. The air is drawn into the furnace where electric coils or a gas burner heat up the air in the heat exchanger.

Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is where the air is actually heated in the furnace. If your heating system runs on gas, you will have a burner that heats up the air when needed. If your heating system is linked to your home’s electrical system, you will have coils that heat up when warm air is needed.

Blower

Once the heat exchanger has done its job, the blower turns on and begins projecting the warmed air to the ducts. Often you may hear your system turn on, but there may be a delay before the air actually comes out of your vents. When the blower turns on, the air will begin to move out into your home. In the same way, you may hear your system shut off once the temperature is stabilized, but your blower will stay on until the heated air is transferred out of the furnace.

Supply and Return Ducts and Vents

Supply ducts are simply insulated pipes or airways in your walls that heated air follows to open vents located throughout the house. Return ducts are airways that pull out the extra air in your home and into the furnace. They are linked to a vent that has a filter, which needs to be replaced periodically. The return vents are larger than the supply vents, but there are fewer of them.

Exhaust

Most furnaces have an exhaust system that allows gases in the air to leave through the exhaust ducts to the outside. Draft hoods are used to vent dangerous carbon monoxide from gas furnaces through the exhaust ducts safely to outside.

Thermostat

What regulates the furnace is the thermostat. It is a sensitive switch that is connected to the furnace. It automatically turns on the heat when there is a drop in temperature in the house. Usually the sensors are located centrally in a home in order to maintain an even temperature throughout.

If your home isn’t staying warm throughout the nights, give Gentry Air Conditioning a call today to come out and inspect these heating components!

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Get Your Furnace Ready for Fall

In these early still warm fall days, the last thing you want to think about is turning on your heater. But the cooler weather will be here before you know it! Is your furnace ready? Is it in good working condition? The best time to get your furnace ready for fall is now, before the temperatures dip.
There are a few things you can do on your own to help get your furnace ready for fall.

Check Doorways for Drafts

Install storm doors or storm windows to prevent cool air from seeping in, and check and clean the air filters on your furnace. If you aren’t sure where to find the air filter on your furnace, just ask our team here at Gentry, and we will be happy to show you where it’s located and how to replace it, if necessary.

Check Your Vents

Another way to get your furnace ready for fall is to check the vents throughout your home. Make sure they aren’t obstructed or covered in any way. This will prevent the air from properly circulating and may cause your furnace to work harder, costing you more money in heating costs.

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

Do you have ceiling fans in your home? If so, you should be able to reverse their direction in the cooler months. In the summer months, ceiling fans disburse cooler air. But if you reverse the fan’s direction in the cooler months, the warmer air is pushed down, making your room and your home a bit warmer. This means your furnace won’t be working as hard.

Enlist a Professional

The best preparation may be to hire a professional, such as our team of technicians to come to your home to professionally check and clean your furnace for the new season. Our team knows what to look for. We inspect your furnace carefully and thoroughly to ensure it’s working at peak efficiency. Regular maintenance is like a check-up for your furnace. The money you spend now to have a professional technician come to your home may prevent costly issues that may occur in the middle of winter, help save you money on your utility bill, and extend the life of your furnace.
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