Advice From the Pros

4 Hacks to Get the Most Out of Your Furnace This Winter

 

We are firmly in the winter season, and the temperature is going down, down, down. That means heating bills will go up, up, up unless you make a few changes. Turning up the thermostat isn’t the only way to keep your home warm during winter. Try these suggestions to stay comfortable and save energy at the same time.

Let the sun in, keep the night out

This winter, take advantage of the most effective natural heater there is: the sun! During sunny, warm days, open the shades and let the radiant heat warm up your home. Open blinds and curtains during the day to let the sunlight in to bring the house temperature up. Similarly, if you’re eager to keep the cold out, it pays to close those curtains when the sun sets. At night, do the opposite and draw the shades and curtains to retain as much heat as possible. Conventional draperies can reduce heat loss from a warm room up to 10 percent, according to Energy.gov research.

Keep the air in your home

Check doors and windows for leaks and seal them where the cold air is entering your home. If your windows (and doors leading to the outside) have any gaps or cracks, the warm inside air is likely leaking to the outside. This will leave you chilly and cause you to overspend on utilities to maintain your desired indoor air temperature.

Each season, check all windows and doors that open to the outside. You can feel by hand for drafts with all windows and doors closed. Or hold a burning incense stick around the windows and doors, and watch for any abnormal smoke movement. A lesser-known place to check is electrical outlets on exterior walls. Fix the gaps, and your rooms will stay warmer. Caulk or weatherstrip are easy and cost-effective ways to seal those small leaks around windows and doors.

Double check your thermostat

Make sure the program is set to heat only when you are in the house. Running the heat when no one is home will only drive up your bill.

Invest in a WiFi thermostat

Don’t like managing thermostat schedules or do the kids mess with the thermostat too much? Install a WiFi thermostat and you can control the temperature from anywhere in the world as long as you have cell service and your WiFi is on at home! The right thermostat goes a long way when it comes to keeping your home warm during the winter. A smart thermostat that is programmable, which allows you to set the thermostat for warmer temperatures just before you wake up and prior to returning home, enhancing your comfort.

 

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Benefits of a Humidifier

 

We all make sure to take measures to keep our homes warm enough in the cold winter weather. However, there is one consideration that many overlook — the warmer your air, the drier it is. A humidifier is a device that heats water into steam and releases it into your home or room, increasing the level of moisture in the air. There are many types of humidifiers ranging from small standalone units that fit on your desk, to larger units that can be integrated into your HVAC system, like Trane Steam Humidifier.

Dry air in the winter can be irritating and lead to other health issues. The recommended humidity range for your home and your health is 35-50%. Throughout the winter, your furnace often strips the air of moisture during the heating process, which can cause the air inside your home to feel exceedingly dry. The best way to have a more energy-efficient and comfortable home during the winter is to control your indoor humidity.

Benefit #1:  More control over the humidity in your home or room

By adding a whole-home humidifier to your HVAC system, you can alter humidity levels through your thermostat. You will have the ability to place the humidity to any level you choose without worrying about turning the system on and off. In addition, you don’t have to worry about purchasing or operating individual humidifiers for each room or area (or keeping their water levels stocked).

Benefit #2: More comfortable air

The dry, cool air can cause a lot of static. Is your family getting shocked more lately? A humidifier makes the air less dry and lowers your chance of being shocked at home. Since humidifiers add moisture to the nasal passages and respiratory systems, they could also help decrease snoring and, in some cases, do away with it entirely leading to a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

Benefit #3: Protection for wood floors and moldings 

Air that is too dry can also affect the finishes and furnishings in your home, particularly those made from wood, causing them to shrink, warp, and crack. Low humidity could also have an unfavorable effect on paper products, such as photos, posters, and books, resulting in them becoming more brittle.

Benefit #4: Reduction in respiratory problems

A lack of moisture in the air can dry out your nasal passages, leading to irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and mouth and may even exacerbate respiratory illnesses. Installing a whole-home humidifier for your heating and cooling system can help clear your sinuses, moisturize your nasal passages, and improve your breathing. Adding moisture to your air is ideal for your health. Whole-home humidifiers help minimize your risk of illness as viruses and bacteria do not survive in moist air.

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Troubleshooting Your Furnace

A furnace is crucial for comfort and survival in cold winter weather. Without it, we would be huddling around wood fires to stay warm. Unfortunately, furnaces need regular professional tune-ups and homeowner upkeep to run strongly and efficiently.

Even with proper maintenance, however, furnaces can break down and develop problems that impede regular functioning. If your furnace is acting up or refusing to turn on, go over these furnace troubleshooting tips first, before you call in the pros.

The first step to take if you suspect that your heating system will not turn on should be to check your thermostat. First, make sure your thermostat is set to heat mode. Customers often call us after trying to turn the system temperature up with no result but forget that their thermostat is still set to cool mode. Make sure your thermostat has functioning batteries. Finally, try turning the fan to the on position.

Next, check the power supply to the furnace. Make sure to look in the breaker box for tripped breakers, as well. In fact, go ahead and flip the FURNACE or HEAT breaker off and on again if it is labeled. Make sure to also check the power source inside. It will usually be a plug or a light switch.

The next step should be to perform a check of the air filter. Over time, furnace filters get dirty. Dirt and dust can quickly clog the filter, which impedes airflow, worsens indoor air quality, and can even prevent the furnace from turning on in some cases. It can also become a fire hazard and cause premature breakdowns due to excessive dust and dirt. Many customers don’t know it, but the sharply reduced air flow from a dirty air filter can cause several safety switches to trip in order to protect your furnace and your home.

Lastly, check the air flow. Simply put your hand up to the supply and intake vents around the house to check to see whether they are moving air through to your rooms.

As always, when in doubt, call the professionals! If you encounter anything that doesn’t seem safe or seems way off during your inspection, don’t hesitate to bring us out to take a look. Gentry is here to help.

 

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