Fall is a great time to have your heating system checked and prepare it for the cold winter nights ahead. Temperatures at night average in the mid-50’s during October in the Rock Hill/Fort Mill area, but by November, average lows are down around 40 degrees. That means you’ll want your heating system to kick in at night and keep you from waking up freezing in the middle of the night. A few simple heating system tips will help keep you warm and avoid costly breakdowns.
Change Your Air Filter
We probably can’t say this enough. Change your air filter. You should check it at least once a month to make sure it is in good condition and not clogged up. Keeping your air filter clean can cut the energy consumption of your system by 5 to 15 percent. The more resistance there is to the air flow in your home, the harder the system needs to work.
When you go to change the filter, it is best to turn off the system, so there isn’t any air flowing through it. This will keep all those smaller particles and bigger ones, like plastic bags from getting sucked into the system and potentially getting your air handler clogged with dirt. Not sure what air filter to use? Get our advice on air filters.
Need help remembering when to change your air filter? Here are a few ideas.
- Set a reminder on your phone to remind you to check the filter each month
- If you own an Ecobee or Nest thermostat, you can set it to remind you about monthly filter replacement through email. Other smart thermostats may have similar features.
- Filtrete and other filter makers have apps and email services available. You don’t have to buy their filters to use the reminder service.
Clean Around Your Outdoor Unit
If you have a heat pump, you’ll want to make sure leaves or debris haven’t blocked the airflow through your outdoor unit. If there are some leaves around the outdoor unit, simply raking them away will ensure that proper airflow through the outdoor unit will keep it working the way it should. A few other things to look for are nearby shrubs that have grown too close to the unit, plastic bags and yard debris like grass clippings. The right amount of air flow will help ensure the heat pump operates efficiently and keeps your home warm during the cold winter months.
Check Your Interior Air Vents
Check to make sure the room air vents inside your home are not obstructed by furniture. This typically isn’t a problem in most homes here in the Charlotte area because the vents are usually located on the ceiling or maybe high up on a wall. However, if you do happen to have floor vents, putting a chair or other furniture over the top of it will block air flow to the room. You’ll also want to make sure you didn’t close vents because the air conditioning was too cold in some rooms during the summer.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
There are a lot of smart thermostats on the market these days, which provide simple programming from your phone or on a touch screen. But you don’t have to go to that level of expense to get a good programmable thermostat that can help make you more comfortable and save you some money.
The nice thing about programmable thermostats is that you can have the temperature change automatically in your home when you need it to. Many people will set the temperature down a little at night while they are sleeping, then have the heat kick in just before the alarm clock goes off in the morning. That way you can get out of bed a little easier and be comfortable right away in the morning. You can also save energy by having the temperature turn down during the day if nobody is home.
Smart thermostats and many programmable ones are available that will even help you keep your home comfortable during transition periods in the spring and fall by switching between cooling and heating systems as needed. This is especially nice in the Carolinas, where we get pretty big temperature swings during the autumn months.
You can install a thermostat yourself if you are a bit handy. But the job does require working with wires, which isn’t for everyone. We’re happy to recommend, install and help you set up a new thermostat.
Get Professional Service
It is always a good idea to have your furnace serviced by a professional to ensure that it is operating safely and efficiently. At Panther, we offer regular maintenance plans to make sure your heating system is ready to go before the weather turns cold. Regular service helps prevent breakdowns and makes sure that your system is operating safely (no carbon monoxide leaks, etc). You’ll want to request fall furnace service early, so we can come out and check everything over before the heating season really starts. The most common time for heating system failures is when you start them up for the season. Getting everything checked over before you really need heat will help make sure that you don’t get left in the cold on the first night when the temperatures really dip down.