Chilly weather is right around the corner, and there’s no better time than now to ensure your system is ready for everyday use this winter. Below are some of the most important HVAC tips Surgi’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing recommends to all homeowners this winter season!
Change Your Filters
During the winter (and summer) months, the temperature difference between the inside of your home and the outdoors is greater. This means that your HVAC system needs to work harder to maintain your comfort. If your air filters are dirty or fully clogged on top of that, your unit will need to exert even more energy to keep up. Over time, the restricted airflow puts excess pressure on your unit and can cause it to overheat.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends changing your air filters every month, or at least every 3 months. Surgi’s suggests stocking up on filter cartridges to ensure you stay on top of replacements.
Revisit Your Thermostat
“Smart” Thermostat Settings
If you have a programmable or “smart” thermostat, don’t forget to take advantage of its programmable settings! Set your thermostat to heat your home in cycles – “ON” while your home is occupied and “OFF” when it’s unoccupied. This can help your system conserve energy and reduce your energy bill over time.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day can save you as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling. (Also, the percentage of savings is much higher for buildings in milder climates than for those in more severe areas.)
Standard Thermostat Settings
If you have a standard digital thermostat and are not looking to upgrade, don’t worry! You also have methods available to you to help conserve energy during the winter.
First, instead of switching to “ON” or “HEAT”, consider using the “AUTO” setting. This allows your system’s fans to run only during automatic heating cycles, which conserves energy and prevents overheating.
Next, manually set your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re awake or occupying your home. This is the lowest temperature recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy for the winter. It’s high enough to maintain comfort and low enough to help you save even more energy!
Check for Accurate Readings
Whether you have a standard digital thermostat or a programmable one, you want to make sure your thermostat is giving an accurate reading before the winter. You don’t want to find yourself cranking up the heat, only for the temperature to remain the same. This can cause damage to your system (and wastes a lot of energy).
To check your thermostat for accuracy, all you need is tape, a paper towel and a glass tube thermometer. Follow these steps:
- Find a location that’s a few feet away from your thermostat and away from direct sunlight
- Tape the paper towel to the wall
- Tape the thermometer right on top. (This prevents the thermometer from picking up on the wall’s temperature)
Wait around 15 minutes for the thermometer to get a reading.
If the thermostat and thermometer are giving different temperatures, then this means your thermometer might need to be recalibrated or replaced entirely. A professional HVAC technician can help you diagnose the root of the problem.
Check Outdoor Unit
While most outdoor units are designed to take on harsh weather, it doesn’t hurt to take the time to spruce yours up before the cold fully arrives.
- Clean the surrounding area of any debris such as twigs, grass or leaves
- Remove any weeds or vegetation growing near the unit
- Make sure gutters aren’t leaking above or near the unit
- Avoid using any covers – this can lead to trapped moisture within the unit, which could damage the inner components
Schedule Your Annual Heater Tune-Up
If you haven’t turned on your furnace since last winter, you don’t want to wait until the first freezing temperatures to give it a test run. Even if your system was working just fine last year, that doesn’t guarantee it will work just as well this year. Foregoing a tune-up puts your system at risk of shutting down in the middle of winter due to undetected issues. And with this time being the busiest for HVAC technicians due to emergency repairs, the wait might be longer than expected.
Save yourself the headache and contact Surgi’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for a professional heater tune-up. Our technicians will conduct a thorough inspection of your system – this includes your thermostat, your vents, heater, as well as your outdoor unit. We’ll make sure your system is running efficiently and is fully prepared for this winter season!