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How to prepare your HVAC system for winter

Posted on: September 21, 2012

Been enjoying the milder weather over the past couple days? The cooler temps and shorter days are nice, but they’re all pointing to one thing: winter is just around the corner! This fall when you’re getting ready to shut off your air conditioner for good, take a few extra minutes to see if there’s anything you can do to improve your system’s efficiency. Trust us, a little extra effort now can save you a whole lot of time and money next spring!

Take a Look at Your HVAC Systems

While you may not know exactly what you’re looking for, it always helps to check your compressor for signs of damage, including cracks in the body, rust and bent fins. This is especially important as your air conditioner gets older. Remember, your AC is designed to last about 10 – 15 years, so when it starts to get up there in age, problems can develop – but many can be prevented if caught early on. After you’ve given your unit a once-over, call an HVAC contractor to do a more in-depth inspection to target any potential trouble areas.

Once your air conditioner is packed up for the winter (we’ll explain how to do this in a future blog post), have your HVAC contractor inspect your furnace. By having a furnace inspection before you turn your furnace on for the winter, you can ensure it will run efficiently all season long.

Using a heat pump? It should be inspected too! Heat pumps work twice as hard as your furnace or air conditioner, so it’s even more important that you have them inspected professionally at the start of each season – you want to get as much life out of them as possible!

 

Change Your Filter

Hopefully you remembered to do this over the summer! You can probably take a break from changing your filters for a few months while you’re not running your HVAC systems as hard, but once it gets cold and you crank up your furnace to full blast, remember to swap out your filters once a month. If you don’t do this, they’ll get clogged up and block airflow from the furnace.

Upgrade Your Thermostat

It’s almost 2013 – if you’re still using a mercury-based thermostat, you’re way behind on the times! Mercury-based thermometers are not as accurate as programmable thermostats, which means that even when you think you’re setting the temperature to an efficient level (68 F in the winter!), the real amount of energy you’re using could fluctuate wildly! We’ve written a lot about the benefits of programmable thermostats in the past – if you haven’t already, make this winter the year you install a programmable thermostat!

Clean Your Ducts

When was the last time you had your ducts cleaned? While you don’t need to do it often, you should have them cleaned every couple years and inspected for things like punctures, dents and gaps. Damaged, leaky ducts can reduce your furnace efficiency and raise your heating costs by up to 30 percent!

Check your Humidifier and CO Detector

You’re probably going to be spending a lot more time inside once the temperatures drop. The problem is that indoor air warmed by a furnace or heat pump can still be uncomfortable! As hot air is pumped into your home, it evaporates all the moisture in the air, which can lead to dry itchy skin, cracked furniture and a variety of respiratory grievances. A humidifier will add that moisture back into the air, alleviating most of these problems!

But there’s more you need to think about than just being comfortable. If you’re running a gas furnace, there’s also a safety issue – which is why you should install a carbon monoxide detector! If you’re running your furnace 24/7 during the winter, there’s a chance that something could go wrong and interfere with the fuel burning. This, in turn, can create carbon monoxide, which can leak into your home and be a potentially fatal problem. If you find yourself or your family feeling nauseous, light headed and fatigued for seemingly no reason this winter, get out of the house immediately and call 911, the gas company and James A. Wheat & Sons immediately! Then, install a low-level carbon monoxide detector so you’ll be able to keep your family safe all year long.

If you’re looking for more ways to save money and live more comfortably this winter, there’s only one name you need to know – James A. Wheat & Sons!