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Using Your Furnace Efficiently

Energy Conservation Tips to Cope with the Cold

furnace efficiency michigan Keeping your Michigan home warm and comfortable through the long cold months of winter obviously costs money –but it doesn’t have to break the bank. To keep your expenses under control, here is some advice if you have a furnace, also known as a forced-air or warm-air system.

The number one tip for maintaining furnace efficiency is to replace or clean the air filter on a regular basis.

In most cases, this should be done at least every three months. However, it’s a good idea to check the filter monthly during the heating season to see if it needs to be changed or cleaned more often. This is recommended if you have pets in your home or a member of your household suffers from a respiratory ailment. Note: a filter change or cleaning will be included when you get a professional tune-up from a heating oil full-service company.

Understanding Your Furnace Air Filter

Air filters are located either inside the return air vent or in the furnace, and some are designed to be discarded and replaced periodically. Some filters have a plastic frame. If yours does, you can clean and reuse it.

Ultimately, you should always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and always turn off the furnace before you do anything with the filter.

What Happens If My Furnace Air Filter Gets Dirty?

If your air filter gets clogged with particles, pet hair and other debris, the air has less room to flow through your heating system and then through your home. This means your furnace needs to do more work to get the air circulated. Such a lack of efficiency will lead to increased cost, and your home will not be as warm as it could be. You’ll also be dealing with a deterioration of your indoor air quality.

The harder your furnace has to work, the more likely it is that its parts will experience wear and tear. This means you’ll be paying for expensive repairs to keep your system up and running, or that you’ll have to upgrade sooner than you hoped.

Taking care of your heating oil furnace’s air filter regularly can add years to your system’s life. Besides maintaining the air filter, we also recommend cleaning the warm-air registers and removing any obstacles to air flow, such as large furniture or carpeting. Tip: if you’re not getting heat out of a register, check to make sure that the register is fully open.

It’s also a good idea to have your home’s ductwork inspected periodically. Studies show an average of 10-15% of the hot air produced by a forced air system escapes through leaks in the ductwork before ever reaching your living space. Have your ducts inspected every five years and get them sealed when necessary.

Five Other Ways to Save On Home Heating

Whether you have a heating oil furnace or heating oil boiler.

here are other ways you can conserve on heat this winter.

  1. Lower your thermostat – The U.S. Department of Energy says you can save about 10% on heating costs by lowering your thermostat from 72°F to 64°F for eight hours a day. The best time to do this is when you’re sleeping or away from home. It’s easy to do if you have a programmable thermostat!
  2. Bring in free solar heat – Keep drapes, blinds and curtains open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm your home. Be sure to close them at night to trap some of the solar heat inside.
  3. Weatherize – You wouldn’t leave a window wide open during the winter, would you? But that’s basically what you’re doing if you don’t fill in openings around external windows and doors in your home. Use caulk, weather stripping, door sweeps, and plastic sheeting to keep air leaks to a minimum. Consider insulating water pipes in unheated areas too.
  4. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans – Most people only use their ceiling fans in the summer. That’s when ceiling fan blades move in a counterclockwise direction to create a cooling breeze. But modern ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to switch the fan direction. In the winter, you should switch the fan’s motor so it runs the blades in the opposite direction: clockwise. This will push rising warm air back down into the room. By recirculating the warm air, the room temperature will get higher, taking some of the strain off your home heating system.
  5. Replace your old heating system – Older home heating systems can operate at efficiencies that drop into the 60% range – about 30% lower than most modern furnaces and boilers. That inefficiency can cost you thousands of dollars over the years – more than enough to justify the cost of a home heating system upgrade. Be sure to ask your service provider about current rebates for upgrading your heating oil equipment, including your heating oil storage tank.

Always feel free to reach out to your local Michigan heating oil company if you have any concerns or questions about staying safe and warm this winter. Your heating oil company takes pride in its reliable service, and they truly care about your comfort and safety, especially during our harsh Michigan winters.