Imagine you’ve gotten into the rhythm of taking a leisurely stroll around the block every morning. Then one day, someone tells you it’s time to run a marathon. You haven’t so much as broken a sweat during your morning walks, so you’re likely going to have a hard time crossing the finish line — or even getting close to it. That’s essentially what happens to your furnace when a cold snap hits. Your furnace has to work overtime to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. And sometimes, if it hasn’t had enough practice, it will break down.
The furnace is generally the biggest concern among homeowners when it comes to heating a home during a cold snap — and understandably so. It’s important to have a system you can depend on when temperatures drop. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of ways to keep your furnace in optimal working condition throughout the winter, as well as a few other tips for retaining heat.
1. Maintain Your Furnace
Experts recommend having your furnace serviced every year. By doing so, you can prolong the life of your HVAC system. You can also ensure that it’s working safely and properly before cold weather hits.
2. Change the Furnace Filter
The frequency of which you change your furnace filter depends on the type of furnace and filters you have. It also depends on whether or not you have pets. A professional can advise you on which filters to use and how often to change them at your annual appointment. The bottom line is to make sure that if the filter is dirty, you change it to keep your system operating at maximum efficiency.
3. Add Supplemental Heat
If you don’t want to blast the heat throughout the house, you can add supplemental heat sources in the rooms that need it most. Kitchens and bathrooms have exposed piping that is prone to bursting if the room is too cold. Adding radiant heating under the floors or via a panel that hangs on the wall is an energy efficient way to heat these spaces. Plus, when your fingers and toes are stubbornly hard to warm up, nothing feels better than radiant heat that warms through direct contact.
4. Cover Windows
When sunlight is pouring through, windows are a great source of heat. However, if it’s overcast or shaded, they’re also a great way to cool down a room. If the latter is the case, close the blinds and curtains to insulate the room from the cold.
5. Inspect Seals and Thresholds
In the fall, check all your doors and windows for any cracks or breaks in the seals or weather proofing. Make any necessary repairs. Plus, if you feel any air or see any light coming in underneath an exterior door, raise the threshold. It’s a simple fix that will make a big difference.
6. Run Ceiling Fans Counter Clockwise
Finally, flip the switch on all of your ceiling fans so that they’re turning counter clockwise on low. This will circulate the warm air throughout the house so that all of your precious warm air doesn’t rest near the ceiling.
If you’re one of the unlucky ones whose furnace does break down this winter, call a professional, use your supplemental heaters, and turn off the water so it doesn’t freeze and burst your pipes. But we hope that with these tips, you’ll be ready for whatever temperatures come your way.