Homeowner Tips

Turning Up the Heat - Furnace Efficiency and Maintenance

Aaron Krausert
November 4, 2019

As we prepare our homes for the colder months ahead, it's key to to have your furnace running efficiently and safely. Cliff Brauner from Pillar to Post Home Inspectors has some pointers to get the most out of your furnace.

Home heating can represent half or more of a typical home's winter utility bill. Efficient operation can mean both lower energy bills and a more comfortable home. Programmable and 'smart' thermostats can be used to automatically turn heat up or down at specified times, lowering heat overnight or when no one is at home. Thermostats should also be calibrated occasionally to avoid "off-cycle" heat loss, and results in more even heating.

Gas furnaces can be a source of dangerous carbon monoxide if there are leaks or cracks that go unnoticed or not repaired. The furnace flame should be steady and burn blue. A qualified contractor or inspector can detect these problems and recommend needed action.

Simple maintenance includes checking and replacing disposable air filters and cleaning of permanent ones, as well as keeping dust, lint and hair away from the burner compartment and air intake. No matter what type it is, a well maintained furnace will not only last longer, but can save energy, money and help a home's overall air quality and comfort.

If a new furnace is necessary, it's worth it to evaluate the various types of furnaces available and how well they might meet a home's specific needs. Furnaces are defined as conventional efficiency, mid efficiency and high efficiency. There are advantages and drawbacks to each type - for example, some are better suited to older homes. At all price points, the ability of most new furnaces to reduce off-cycle heat loss, eliminate the need for an always-on pilot light, etc., make replacing a furnace worth considering if the current system is in bad repair or functioning poorly.


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