It’s already November, and before you know it, December will be here rearing its ugly, but merry head. If you haven’t already scheduled professional furnace and heating maintenance and begun preparing your home for winter, it’s not too late.
Although colder weather is quickly approaching, there is still time to go through this basic furnace winterization checklist:
1. Program Your Thermostat
Save on your heating and cooling bills all year round by using your programmable thermostat to keep energy costs down. Did you know that you can save as much as 1% off your heating and cooling bills by setting the temperature back just 1 degree for a period of 8 hours or more? According to energy.gov, “By turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill — a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.”\
So, for every 1 degree you turn your thermostat back at night, you will save about 1% on your heating bills. If you are feeling chilly, put an extra layer of clothing on, drink a hot drink, and get an electric space heater if you stay in one area for long periods of time.
Use this sample schedule for the U.S. Dept. of Energy to help program your weekday schedule:
6:45 a.m.: The family wakes up to get ready for the day. The temperature of the house is 68°F; the heat automatically turned on a bit earlier so it would hit this temperature by 6:30.
7:45 a.m.: The family leaves the house and the thermostat is set to 56°F. By turning their thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, the family can save 5% to 15% a year on their heating bill — a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.
4:30 p.m.: The family starts returning home from work and school. The heat turned back on a bit before this so the house would again be 68°F for their return.
10:30 p.m.: The whole family has gone to bed (bundled in warm pajamas and snuggled under blankets), and the thermostat is again set to 56°F.
- How to Program Your Thermostat (Energy Star): learn how to set your thermostat to different temperatures throughout the day.
- Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostat (Energy Star): save even more money and energy by learning how to properly use your programmable thermostat.
2. Seal Household Leaks
Your furnace will have to work extra hard to keep your home warm and toasty if you have huge cracks and gaps in your home letting all that hot air out. Keep your heat inside and stop heating your yard and neighbors’ homes.
Test for air leaks on a windy day using an incense stick or thin piece of toilet paper. Hold it up to areas where you suspect a leak and observe how the smoke or paper moves. If it is sucked in, blown out, or otherwise makes unpredictable movements, you have a leak that should be plugged up.
You can stop most leaks with pretty low-cost materials.
Ductwork: Use mastic sealant or aluminum foil tape (NOT duct tape)
Windows & Doors: Use weatherproof caulk or new weatherstripping. Make sure you clean the area and remove all old caulk and weatherstripping before applying the new caulk.
Plumbing and Electric: Go around the perimeter of your home looking for gaps and cracks in your foundation and around where pipes and wires enter the home. Use weatherproof caulk for any gaps less than 1/4 inch and expandable foam spray for any gaps larger than that.
Fireplace Flue: Even with the damper closed, a lot of your conditioned air can escape through your chimney. Test your damper for air leaks and consider purchasing a chimney draft stopper to help air seal your home. *It is also recommended that you have your chimney cleaned and inspected once a year before the heating season.
- How to Seal Air Leaks Around Door & Windows: learn the proper techniques for weatherstripping and caulking your doors and windows.
- How to Seal Air Ducts (energy.gov): Learn how to DIY repair, seal, and insulate your air ducts to minimize energy losses.
Remember, the more holes you plug, the more you’ll save on your heating bill. Also, consider installing rubber foam gaskets behind your electrical outlet plates. Seal air leaks for greater comfort, better indoor air quality, and lower utility bills!
3. Clean and Replace Air Filters
It is very important to check and/or replace your central air filters every 30 days to keep your furnace clean and running strong. A clogged up air filter restricts airflow, which can cause many problems with your furnace. Some newer models have a safety device to turn off the furnace if the filter is too clogged. If your furnace won’t turn on, check the filter first!
If not periodically replaced, dirty filters can decrease your HVAC unit’s lifespan, contribute to poor indoor air quality, raise your heating bills, and reduce airflow. Replacing or cleaning air filters is easy enough. Just watch these HowCast videos:
Set calendar and phone reminders for the first of the month to make sure you don’t forget this important furnace winterization task.
4. Insulate Your Attic
Most people don’t think too much about their attics, but since hot air rises, that is the area of the home most prone to energy loss in the winter. Attic insulation will help prevent your precious heated air from escaping. You should have at least 6 inches of insulation. Watch these This Old House videos to learn how to inspect your attic for air leaks and proper levels of insulation:
Also, consider testing your ceiling fan and light fixtures, bathroom fans, and outlet for air leaks that could be contributing to the air leakage in your attic.
- A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating with Energy Star: get comprehensive information on air sealing and insulating your attic.
5. Tune Up HVAC Equipment
It’s a great idea to tune up your HVAC system twice a year; once in the fall for your furnace and once in the spring for your air conditioner. This annual maintenance inspection will ensure that your furnace is combusting properly and safe for winter’s demands. You don’t want to wait until your furnace breaks down on the coldest day of the year to call in a professional. There will most likely be other OKC homeowners who have the same problem, causing a delay in service.
To supplement the professional heating tune-up, remember to check and/or change your furnace filter every 30 days and make sure there is plenty of space between your heating unit and any combustible material around it.
Bonus Home Winterization Tips:
- Insulate your windows with insulation film.
- Wrap and insulate your water pipes to prevent frozen pipes.
- Close curtains and drapes at night to help insulate windows and open them during the day to allow natural sunlight in.
- Clean your windows to allow maximum heat transfer.
- Check your home for leaks and repair them.
- Lower your water heater temperature form the standard 140 degrees to a more comfortable and energy-efficient 120 degrees.
- Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every 30 days.
- Never operate any fuel-burning appliances inside or near your home.
- Empty all your gas lawn equipment of fuel to eliminate “bad gas” problems.
- Have a heating and air conditioning professional inspect your home for proper insulation and ventilation.
For more tips on maintaining a safe and efficient home all winter, read some of our other blog articles on the topic:
- Carbon Monoxide Manifestations: A Real Life Ghost Story
- Bang, Rattle, Click: Scary Furnace Sounds & What They Mean
- How to Seal Air Leaks Around Doors & Windows | HVAC Tips
- 5 Heating Season Tips for an OKC Winter | Furnace Maintenance
- Gas Furnace Safety Tips | Fire Prevention Week
- Hazards and Dangers of Natural Gas Furnaces
- National Furnace Tune-Up Month Maintenance Tips
- Fall Home Maintenance To-Do List
- HVAC Maintenance Checklist for Homeowners
- How To Properly Inspect Your Air Ducts | Ductwork Diagnosis
- Silent Home Invaders: Five Overlooked Indoor Air Pollutants
Don’t risk unnecessary and inopportune furnace breakdowns! Make sure the HVAC technician you call is licensed, insured, background checked, and drug tested. Look for the proper qualification and check references.
At Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning, our licensed, bonded, and insured technicians are dedicated to your complete satisfaction. For excellent furnace and heating system tune-ups and a full list of home services, visit our services page or call us at 405-794-8900 to schedule an appointment.
We stand behind all of our Heating, Cooling, and Indoor Air Quality solutions, all the parts and products we use, our technicians’ workmanship, and our staff’s professionalism. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.
Get Back on the Road to Comfort!