4 things you should do before turning the heat on

Temperatures are dropping which means you’ll be turning on your heat soon.

But, before you crank up your thermostat, you should do a couple of things to keep your family safe and save money during heating season.

In this article, we’ll share 4 things you should do before you turn your heat on…

  1. Look for cracks in your windows/doors
  2. Check your air filter
  3. Test your carbon monoxide detector
  4. Get your furnace inspected by a professional

#1: Look for gaps in your windows/doors

The last thing you want during a winter day is for cold, outdoor air to seep into your home via gaps in windows and doors.

Not only will your home feel colder in areas near the leaks, but your heating system will have to work double trying to heat your home.

The easiest way to find leaks in doors or windows is to perform a visual inspection. If you see a hole or gap, that means air is definitely leaking into your home.

You can also try the “dollar bill” method. Shut a door or window on a dollar bill, then try pulling the dollar bill through the door or window. If you can pull the bill without dragging it, you have an air leak.

Visit Energy.gov for more information about how to check for leaks.

If you have a gap in your door-frame or window sill, you can buy adhesive weatherstripping to seal the gaps. You can also buy adhesive films that cover your entire window to seal the gaps and also prevent heat loss. This will make sure warm air remains inside and cold air stays outside.

#2: Check your air filter

Next, you’ll want to check your air filter to see if it’s dirty.

Spoiler: Most likely, it is.

You see, your AC has been working hard to keep your home cool all summer long, and it’s brought in a lot of dirt in the process.

Your air filter’s job is to keep that dirt out of your HVAC system. But when your filter captures too much dust, it gets clogged, which restricts airflow into your system.

Clean vs dirty air filter

A clogged air filter can make your furnace struggle to pull in enough air to heat. This low airflow problem leads to higher energy bills and damage to important furnace components (including the heat exchanger, the most expensive part of a furnace).

To check and change your air filter, follow these steps:

  1. Locate your air filter. It will either be behind your return vent or in the air handler itself. Your air handler is usually located in a closet, basement or attic.
  2. Remove the filter and inspect it. If it’s dirty, it’s time to replace it.
  3. Replace the filter with a new filter that matches the old one’s size. The size of the filter should be written on the side of the filter itself. If you’re not sure what size filter you need, contact a heating professional.
  4. To replace the filter, follow the direction of arrows printed on the side of the filter. Make sure the arrows point towards your furnace system. The arrows should reflect the direction of the airflow (from your home towards the furnace).

#3: Test your carbon monoxide detector

After that, you’ll want to make sure that your carbon monoxide detector is in good working order.

You see, all gas furnaces produce carbon monoxide as part of the combustion process. Usually, all the carbon monoxide is carried out of your home via exhaust vents.

But if you have a leak in the vent or somewhere in your furnace system, that carbon monoxide could seep into your home—which is why you want to have your carbon monoxide detector in working order.

Most carbon monoxide detectors have a test button that you can press to see if the batteries are still good. Refer to the instruction manual of your specific carbon monoxide detector for more information about how to test it.

#4: Get your furnace inspected by a professional

Finally, you should get a heating professional to inspect your furnace.

A professional will make sure all of the components are working properly, which will benefit you in 2 ways:

  1. You’ll save money: When all components in a furnace are running efficiently, your furnace will use less energy, which saves you money on your winter utility bills.
  2. You’ll be safer: When a tech inspects your furnace, they’ll make sure the exhaust vents are properly connected and that there are no leaks in your furnace system, which will reduce your family’s exposure to carbon monoxide.

Ready for your furnace tune-up?

In the meantime, learn how you can save money on maintenance and repairs by becoming a 365 Comfort Club member.