5 Steps To Stop Furnace Energy Waste

Many people assume that high heating bills are just something they must endure each winter.

However, there are ways to slash your heating bill by reducing energy waste. Don’t go another season without checking out these ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

1. Change the Furnace Air Filter

The purpose of your furnace’s air filter is to prevent debris from entering the system. When the filter becomes dirty, there are several negative effects. The most immediate repercussion of a clogged filter is reduced airflow into the furnace. This makes the furnace motor struggle harder to perform effectively and it will use more energy. In addition, a clogged filter becomes less adept at trapping debris. Dust will collect on the furnace’s inner parts, and this can cause a furnace breakdown, eventually.

Use the best filter for your system and inspect it monthly throughout the heating season. Homeowners who live in dusty areas often find they need to change filters every month, but your situation may be different.

For the best dust control, which also effects indoor air quality, choose pleated filters, which tend to be better overall than flat fiberglass mesh filters. Look also at the MERV rating, if it is available on the filter. This indicates the ability of the filter to trap particles. A high rating means the filter traps finer particles than a lower-rated filter. However, ask your technician which filter is best for your furnace. High-rated filters may also reduce airflow too much in some systems.

2. Set the Furnace Thermostat Wisely

You can save a lot of energy by simply turning your thermostat lower in winter when you do not need as much heat in the home. Examples include when you are away at work, at night when you are cozy in bed, when you have a fire going in the fireplace or when you are away for the holidays.

Most people can also get by with setting the temperature lower when they are at home. Wearing extra-warm clothing, opening the drapes in the afternoon to let sunlight warm the home and activities such as running a few loads of laundry through the dryer, running your dishwasher and baking can keep you feeling warmer.

Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat for even more energy efficiency. You can set these to adjust the temperature for different times of the day, different days of the week or for when you are on vacation. This eliminates cases such as forgetting to change the thermostat and heating the home too much while you are away or coming home to a chilly house. You can program the thermostat to bring the temperature up to your preferred setting an hour or so ahead of your arrival.

3. Properly Winterize Your Home

Many furnaces have to work extra hard to heat a home simply because the home is poorly sealed and lacks sufficient insulation. When warmth is able to escape from your home, the furnace has to keep running to bring the temperature up.

Weatherproof your windows and doors first, as this is usually where you will find the largest air leaks. Besides caulking and adding weather stripping, adding thick thermal curtains to windows will also keep heat inside where it belongs.

Next, look for air leaks around plumbing pipes coming into the home, electrical outlets and skylights. Any opening between your home and the outdoors allows heated air an escape route.

Make sure your attic insulation is sufficient. The attic is one of the most overlooked areas of a home, but problems here make a huge difference in energy efficiency of your heating system. Call a technician to come out for an attic inspection as soon as possible, preferably before cold weather hits. Most older homes do not have adequate attic insulation.

4. Schedule Furnace Maintenance Checkups

Malfunctioning furnaces are not efficient furnaces, no matter how new they are. The best way to make sure your furnace stays operating as it should is to call for maintenance visits from a qualified HVAC technician. These should be scheduled at least annually.

Many things occur during a maintenance visit. Your technician can answer your questions, clean dirty components that you cannot safely access, check the safety features, and make repairs.

5. Upgrade Your Old Furnace

Even when they are functioning well, old furnaces cannot match the energy savings of high-efficiency furnaces that are manufactured today. An investment you make right now can pay itself off in time financially through lower energy bills. You will also feel more comfortable, and your air quality should improve as these furnaces are designed better than any in the past. In some cases, you will qualify for rebates from the government or other incentives for choosing energy efficient furnaces such as those with an Energy Star label. It is best to plan for energy savings early in the fall before you have to use your furnace. However, any time is a good time to begin making energy-saving changes.

To learn more about improving energy-efficiency this winter, or to enquire about furnace maintenance plans, give us a call today!

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Reasons to Get Repairs for a Cracked Furnace Heat Exchanger

It is recommended that you have your furnace inspected yearly, preferablly before cold weather hits. When your furnace is being inspected, the inspector will be looking for signs of problems with the furnace. One problem you can encounter with a furnace is a cracked heat exchanger. Sometimes you can see the crack with your naked eye, but most of the heat exchanger is hidden, so typically you can't see the problem.

There are many reasons why a heat exchanger cracks. It may become rusted due to age, it can wear out due to poor maintenance or it can crack if the furnace is the wrong size for your home. Regardless of why it cracked, the heat exchanger needs to be replaced. Here are a few of the reasons you will need to get repairs for a cracked furnace heat exchanger.

Carbon Monoxide Can Seep Out of Through a Cracked Heat Exchanger

It is important to repair your furnace if you notice a crack in it. Having a crack in your furnace heat exchanger puts you at risk of being exposed to; carbon monoxide which is often referred to as the silent killer. Carbon Monoxide will leak out of the cracks and get into your ventilation system, which could be extremely dangerous to you and your family. While it is extremely unlikely that a small crack is going to produce enough carbon monoxide to kill you or your family, the crack will get larger over time, which can cause illness or death.

The Crack will Continue to Get Larger and the Unit will Eventually Fail to Work Properly

When you do not address much needed repairs, such as cracks in a furnace heat exchanger, the issue will only get worse. You may think that you can ignore the issue and nothing will happen, but this is not true. The crack will slowly continue to open up and grow larger, especially if you live in an area with extremely cold winters. When the cold air in your garage hits the warm air by the furnace, the crack will contract and expand, which causes it to grow. As such, it needs to be repaired quickly, or your unit may suddenly stop working when the crack gets large enough.

The Unit Works Harder With a Crack, Causing Additional Wear and Tear to Other Parts of the Furnace

When your furnace has a crack in the heat exchanger, the warm air that the furnace is producing is able to seep out. As such, the furnace has to work harder to produce more warm air. So all of the internal parts, such as the belts and gears, have to work longer and harder. In turn, this causes these parts to wear out sooner than they otherwise would have, which ultimately decrease the lifespan of your unit. Properly maintaining all of the parts on a furnace can help ensure all of the parts last as long as they are designed to, which in turn helps your furnace last 15 to 20 years, as it is designed to.

The Unit Uses more Power When it Isn't Functioning Properly, Which Raises your Gas or Energy Bill

When your furnace has any sort of repairs that need to be done, it will cause this appliance to not work at optimal levels. When the unit is not in proper working order, it will work twice as hard and it will cause your energy bill to rise. If you neglect the problem too long, then it may lead to needing to replace the entire unit which is costly. Having a crack in the unit does not allow for a good seal and you will be losing a lot of the energy that is being created. This in turn raises the amount of energy or gas that is needed to power the appliance, which in turn, raises your bill.

If you notice a crack on your furnace heat exchanger, or we find one one during your annual furnace inspection, the heat exchanger needs to be replaced. There is no way to fix a crack, so the entire exchanger needs to be replaced. If your furnace is near the end of its lifespan, it may make more sense to replace the unit, rather than just this one part. Failing to address the issue will allow carbon monoxide to seep out of the unit, can cause the unit to eventually stop working, can put additional strain on other parts in the appliance and increase your energy bills.

If there is a problem with your furnace, give us a call today and let us take a look and decide on the best course of action for you!

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How To Make Your Water Heater Last Longer

No one likes a cold shower! Water heaters are essential to your enjoyment of your home, but they are also expensive. Not only do they cost money to replace, but repairs and additional energy costs from poor function can add up quickly. However, there are few ways that you can extend the life of your water heater and keep it running smoothly and efficiently.

How Do Water Heaters Age?

In order to extend the life of your water heater, it is important to understand their lifespan and the ways they can break down. Most water heaters are made to last around eight to fifteen years, although they can last up to twenty with good care. Tankless water heaters will last around twice as long. Water heaters are made of metal, usually steel, that is lined with glass or porcelain to prevent the water damaging the metal. However, over time this lining develops cracks and the metal begins to oxidize. In addition, sediment from the water begins to build up and lower efficiency.

The first signs of deterioration usually include gradual loss of efficiency. You may notice that your water heater is taking longer to heat or not producing as hot of water. In addition, you will see a gradual rise in your electric or gas bill. Later, the water heater may begin to leak. The initial leaks are slow; you will usually only see a small amount of water near the tank rather than actual dripping. Even a small amount of leaking can damage your foundation and flooring when it is constant. With time, the leak will become more severe; it's important to know where your water shutoff is located in case the leak worsens suddenly. At this point, the water heater needs to be replaced, which is an expensive proposition.

Invest in Routine Maintenance

Having your water heater inspected and flushed once a year can make a huge difference in its lifespan. Flushing the tank removes sediment and some of the scaling that reduce efficiency and corrode the lining. Many water heaters are self-cleaning, but a yearly flush still extends their lifespan. Routine maintenance pays for itself by helping your water heater last longer and allowing you to repair issues before the system breaks down altogether.

Prevent Sediment With Water Softener

Sediment and scaling will eventually cause a great deal of wear and tear while reducing the efficiency of your water heater. This is especially true if you live in an area with hard water. Hard water has minerals in it that can gather on the inner surfaces of a water heater and break down the lining while compromising efficiency. Installing a water softener will ensure that most of these minerals are removed from your water before they can wreak havoc on your water heater.

Add a Second Anode Rod

An anode rod is a rod made of aluminum or magnesium that attracts minerals and ions in water. They corrode this rod rather than corroding the inside of your water heater. Water heaters already have one anode rod, but adding a second can extend the life of the water heater significantly.

Consider an Expansion Tank

You probably know that liquids expand when they are heated. When cold water enters your tank and then is heated to around 120 degrees, it expands around 2%. This may not seem like much, but it's equivalent to an extra gallon of water in a 50 gallon tank. If you have a closed system, which has a valve preventing water from flowing back into water lines, this pressure eventually wears down your water heater tank as well as your water lines. An expansion tank gives this extra water somewhere to go, which means that there is less pressure on your tank.

Add a Pressure Regulator Valve

A pressure regulator valve, or PRV, does exactly as the name suggests. High water pressure, defined as pressure above 90 PSI, damages not just your water heater but your plumbing and many other appliances. Your water heater simply will not last as long when it is constantly under pressure. A pressure regulator valve will ensure that pressure stays constant and at a reasonable level. A PVR is generally installed along with an expansion tank in systems with high pressure.

If you want to expand the working lifespan of this expensive appliance, talk to a residential plumber today. A plumber can inspect your water heater and let you know what preventative measures are most important for your hot water heating system.

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