Get Your Heat On!

By Chandler von Schrader

For better or worse, cold weather has arrived and it’s time to “get your heat on.” You may have already switched your thermostat over to the heating mode and had one of those “please, please, please start” moments! While you are waiting to hear that familiar “whoosh” of warm air, you try to remember if you had a preseason heating maintenance service… was that this fall or last year? Did they check the heating system when they last serviced the central AC? Is it operating at its peak efficiency and doing so safely? Will it work all season long?

Then, the heat kicks on and those panicked thoughts melt away. Or maybe not…

Years back, I worked as a salesman for a heating and cooling company and was always amazed by the general lack of concern homeowners gave to their heating and cooling systems. If these folks had only paid half as much attention to their heating and cooling system as they do their car, they might not be replacing their systems quite so often. Regardless of how the age of your system, homeowners can take some simple actions to maximize the efficiency and useful life of their heating equipment:

  1. Manage your temperature settings at your thermostat or better yet get a programmable thermostat to set your house temperature smartly while you are home, asleep or away. High bills are directly related to how long your system operates.
  2. Check your air filter and change it when it’s dirty. Dirty filters reduce air flow and allow dust accumulation on the system’s components. This simple action can have a profound impact on your system’s longevity and efficiency.
  3. Walk your ducts in your house and look at where they are attached to the registers. See dust streaks? Feel air leaking out? Seal these little leaks with metal tape.
  4. If your home is uncomfortable or you have high bills and just don’t know where to start, seek a professional home performance contractor. They will perform a comprehensive review of your home’s energy use and provide detailed guidance on making the right improvements for overall comfort and efficiency. For more energy efficiency guidance, visit the ENERGY STAR website.

About the author: Chandler has been with EPA nearly ten years promoting energy efficiency best practices for home improvement contractors, remodelers, and HVAC contractors under the banner of Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. His prior experiences include owning a remodeling company, selling HVAC systems, managing weatherization programs and conducting thousands of energy audits.

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