11 Tips to Help Your Furnace Work Better

Toronto family indoors in winter

Not many people know this but furnace efficiency, helping your furnace last longer, and saving money all go hand in hand.

Like your car or any other machine, your furnace is subject to wear and tear, and the less it gets the longer it will last. Using your furnace efficiently not only saves money on your monthly gas bill, it also reduces wear and tear. If your furnace lasts longer, you won’t have to replace it as often. By following the tips below, you’ll save money – twice!

None of these tips are hard, but just like getting exercise or flossing, the key thing is to do them.

1. Make Sure the Filter is Clean

The purpose of the furnace filter is to prevent dust and hair from clogging your furnace. But after the filter has been in place for a while, it gets full of debris. Your furnace then has to work harder to pull air through the densely packed filter, which places extra stress on the furnace.

How often you need to change your filter will depend on a lot of things. How often you clean, whether or not you have pets, and recent renovations can all make a difference. A good rule of thumb is to check the filter monthly for debris. If you can see hair and dust on the surface, then replace the filter or wash it if it’s the reusable kind.

2. Use a Programmable Thermostat

It’s still amazing how many Canadians don’t use programmable thermostats: only 50% as of 2006. They are one of the best ways of reducing your monthly gas bill, and they often pay for themselves in one year. They also reduce wear and tear on your furnace.

A simple 5-day/2-day programmable thermostat is not expensive, and it will allow you to set up a schedule for weekdays and weekends that will lower the temperature when you’re away from home or sleeping.

3. Make Sure all Registers are Open and Free of Debris

In order to work efficiently a furnace needs to be able to freely circulate air around your home. Make sure none of your registers are blocked by furniture or have trapped dust in the cover. Be careful when purchasing decorative registers – they look great but can restrict as much as 50% of the air flow.

4. Keep the Area Around the Furnace Clear

Most furnaces are kept in the basement, where we also love to store extra belongings. It’s really important to keep a three to five foot area around your furnace completely clear of stored items. This is a safety issue because there is burning gas in the furnace. But it also helps the furnace run smoother because air can circulate freely.

5. Curtains are a Great Way to Save Energy

Strategically using your curtains can make a noticeable difference in your energy bill. By closing them at night, you can prevent heat loss to the cold outdoors.

Opening them in the day on south or west-facing windows allows warm sunshine to enter and heat the inside of your home, just like with a car left in a parking lot. On any north windows, try to keep them closed, even during the day.

6. Get Regular Furnace Tune Ups

Make sure you have your furnace inspected and tuned up every year to ensure its running at peak efficiency. One faulty part can place strain on the rest of the system, and can lead to sudden breakdowns. You can learn more about the benefits of furnace tune ups here.

7. Use Ceiling Fans

It may sound odd to use a fan in the winter, but they can help even out the overall warmth of your air. Heat naturally rises, and tends to collect near the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan on low to push the hot air down to the floor works especially well in rooms with vaulted ceilings.

8. Bake More in the Winter Months

Give your furnace a break by using the oven more. It will heat the entire kitchen area and may help heat your entire ground floor. There are other benefits too: not only will you feel better with a nice home-cooked meal, your house will smell great.

9. Decorative Insulation

Carpeting and area rugs on floors help insulate against drafts. They also feel great underfoot, help with soundproofing, and make us feel warmer because they’re so cozy looking.

10. Keep a Good Humidity Level

Most people notice that the air in our homes tends to be really dry in winter. It’s not only drying on skin and throats, but it can make us feel colder than we really are. Using a humidifier to bring your humidity level up to about 40% will help transfer heat better. You can lower the setting on the thermostat and not notice it. More humidity is also better for wood floors and furniture, and can help prevent asthma and allergy attacks. You can learn more about humidification here.

11. Make Sure your Garage Door is Sealed

The garage is one of the biggest culprits of energy loss in the modern home. Make sure the garage door is touching all the way down and there aren’t any drafts around the sides are top.
By following these tips, you’ll keep your furnace running smoothly all winter long. You’ll also stay cozy and warm for less money.