As we turn the corner into September, we know that cooler weather can’t be too far away. Even though it may be hard to imagine cranking up the heater while we’re still suffering through a late summer heat wave, it’s time to schedule a fall checkup for your heating system. The Department of Energy offers a maintenance checklist to help us all get our cool weather season off to a safe and efficient start.
- Decide on your thermostat settings for the winter months. Most people adjust their daytime setting to somewhere between 68°F to 72°F and their night setting between 62°F to 68°F. Of course your comfort level with the temperature and your heating bill will determine your settings. If you are leaving the house, turn the temperature down while you are gone to help save energy. You may want to use a programmable thermostat if you have a set schedule to regulate the times your heat is turned up and down throughout the day. It’s especially convenient to have your heat automatically pop on about 15 minutes before you get home from work.
- Lubricate moving parts of your heating system. Make sure that your heating contractor lubricates any moving parts to reduce friction in your motor, thus saving on the amount of electricity you use.
- Check your electrical connections. Tighten electrical connections and check the voltage and current on motors. Bad connections can be dangerous and can cause your system to work inefficiently, possibly causing it to wear out sooner than it should.
- Have the condensate drain on your central air conditioner, furnace or heat pump inspected. If this drain is plugged, it can cause water damage and affect indoor humidity levels.
- Check system controls. Be sure that your heating system starts, runs and shuts off properly.
- Check gas and oil connections and gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Faulty connections are a hazard and problems with the burner or heat exchanger can cause the system to operate inefficiently and be dangerous.
- Finally, replace the system filters as needed. Whole house filters need to be replaced yearly, and the standard filter should be replaced monthly. A dirty filter is hard on your system and your energy bill.
Be sure you schedule regular appointments with your heating service so that you don’t forget to maintain your heating system. When the temperature dips down for the first time this fall, you’ll be ready—and so will your system.