Maintaining Your Systems – Air Ducts & Vents
While you’re changing your furnace filter and setting back your thermostat, don’t forget to take a look at your air ducts and vents – a few simple changes can help eliminate wasted energy.
Believe it or not…..
If you have a central forced-air furnace, do not close off heat registers in unoccupied rooms. Furnace manufacturers and heating contractors say this practice doesn’t really save energy.
Your heating system was designed to heat a specific square footage of living space and will continue working at the same pace – it can”t sense whether registers are closed.
In addition, all the cold air from the unheated room will filter back into the rest of the house – the equivalent of a large, drafty window.
Keep vents and registers clear
Make sure all vents, registers and radiators have plenty of room to breathe. Blocking vents with furniture and draperies can prevent much of the warmed air from reaching the interior of a room.
If you can”t avoid blocking registers, invest in some inexpensive extenders that fit under or around furniture.
Have your air ducts cleaned
Another option is professional indoor air duct cleaning. This not only leaves your home with cleaner, healthier air, but it can also help both your heating and cooling equipment run more efficiently.
Duct cleaning contractors will clean your registers, piping and duct work, as well as the furnace air filters and blower motor. You’ll be surprised at the mountain of dust, dirt and debris that’s removed!
Maintenance Tips – Setting the Thermostat
Your furnace and air conditioner will run most efficiently if you know how to use the thermostat effectively.
Programmable = energy savings
For a great investment in energy savings, install a programmable thermostat. You can program the system to set back the thermostat a few degrees when you leave in the morning, and adjust it again a short while before you come home.
With an energy savings of approximately 10 percent – one percent for every degree it”s set back over an eight-hour period – a $50 thermostat can pay for itself in just one heating season!
Keep the air circulating
Set the fan to “on” rather than “auto.” The fan will circulate the air throughout the house continuously, while the furnace will cycle on and off just as it usually does.
This will help keep temperatures more even throughout the house by reducing temperature stratification.
Let the thermostat do its job
Don”t judge the efficiency of your furnace by the sound of the fan shutting on and off. The blower will continue to circulate warm air up to 15 minutes after the furnace has stopped.
Buying New Equipment – Programmable Thermostats
Would you like to lower your heating and cooling costs by 10 percent? All you need is a programmable thermostat – it automatically sets back the temperature in your home to preset levels at different times of day.
How it works
If you go to bed at 10 p.m., you can program your furnace to automatically change from 70 degrees to 65 degrees at that time.
If you wake up at 6:30 in the morning, you can program the system to increase again at 6 a.m. (great for those cold winter mornings), then go back down to 65 or even lower when you leave the house.
The system works the same way for summer cooling savings – just set it raise the temperature while you’re sleeping or away from home to cut air conditioning costs.
Convenience and energy savings
The feature you might notice first is the convenience – you”ll never have to worry about forgetting to turn the thermostat down at night or when you leave the house.
It”s also a great deterrent to those family members who rush to the thermostat whenever they get a chill.
The benefit you”ll appreciate the most is the energy savings. If you program your thermostat to set back the temperature by 10 degrees for eight hours every night, you”ll save approximately ten percent on your heating bill.
If you set it back while you”re away from home, you”ll see an even bigger savings.
What to look for
When you”re shopping for a programmable thermostat, keep an eye out for these features:
- The ability to store and repeat multiple settings; most offer six settings, including weekday and weekend programs.
- A manual override to allow you to change the current temperature without affecting the daily or weekly program.
- A back-up battery to save the program in case of a power outage.
- An easy-to-read digital display.
- Temperature accuracy within one degree, plus or minus.
- Instructions printed on the inside cover, so you don”t need the owner”s manual for programming.
Inexpensive and easy to install
A good programmable thermostat will cost between $50 and $150, depending on the features you want. You can find less-expensive models, but they might not provide what you need or have the warranty a better model does.
Installing a programmable thermostat is an easy do-it-yourself project if you have previous experience with wiring.