While the weather in the Pacific NW has been warmer the last week, winter is far from over, and keeping your furnace running the rest of the heating season should still be on your mind. Here is a quick guide to three of the top ways to keep your furnace running reliably and efficiently all winter long:

1. Change your filters as recommended

One of the most commonly overlooked ways to keep your furnace running efficiently is changing your filter. Filters are typically hidden inside the furnace, so they stay out of plain site where homeowners would regularly be reminded to change them. Most filters are recommended to be changed every one to three months – although there are certain high-performance filters that can last longer.

A dirty air filter can quickly undermine the efficiency of your heating system, which can lead to wasted energy dollars. One quick way to check your filter is to pull it out and hold it up to a light. As a rule-of-thumb – if you can’t see through the filter, it’s time to change it. It’s important to check the furnace regularly during winter months, as this is the heaviest usage time for the system. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re purchasing filters with higher MERV (Minimum Energy Reporting Value) rating. Higher rated filters go beyond dust and pollen capture and collect finer particles such as mold spores, hair spray, and others.

Make sure each filter is installed properly, with the arrow on the side of the filter pointing toward the direction of airflow (generally towards the blower). If you are not sure how to change your filter, the video below will show you how. (Some filters can be located inside the ductwork connected to the furnace, or inside the return air grille. If you are unsure of where your filter is, or have trouble changing it, call BelRed for assistance.)

Finally, if you need filters or don’t know what type or size to get, contact us for help. We can provide you with an annual supply of high quality filters in the right size to match your heating system. 

2. Keep objects away from your furnace

It’s important to keep objects, both large and small, away from the close vicinity of the furnace. There are obvious safety concerns with objects, particularly flammable objects, being close to or touching a furnace. Most commonly, furnaces are at ground level, which could make for a potential fire hazard if papers or other flammable objects are left hear the burner. Certain dangerous objects that are commonly stored in a basement or garage (potentially near the furnace) include paint cans, varnish and cleaning fluids. These items could potentially give off vapors that could be ignited if too close to the burning unit. Also, objects such as furniture or other wood materials can easily become dry and warped if stored too closely to the furnace.

Keeping objects away from the furnace can also lead to more efficiency. Because natural gas or propane needs oxygen to burn properly, be sure to keep the area around your furnace and water heater clear of items that could block air circulation. Creating a steady airflow and oxygen availability around the furnace can prevent the HVAC unit from working too hard.

3. Ensure heat registers and return air grilles are open and unobstructed

Return air grilles and heat registers that are blocked or obstructed can cause the efficiency of a heating system to plummet. Proper circulation of air in the household, which is handled largely by the registers and return air grilles, is one of the main factors in home comfort and HVAC efficiency. Obstructed return air grilles and heat registers can lead to uneven temperatures from room to room, comfort problems, much higher energy costs and even moisture and mold problems in/on walls and ceilings.

There is, of course, other maintenance that can be required for maximizing the comfort, reliability and efficiency your furnace provides during the cold winter months. Manufacturers and industry associations recommend having your heating system professionally maintained at least annually. BelRed Energy Solutions’ Comfort Guard program provides regular maintenance, priority repair service, and discounts on all repairs and equipment replacement.

In the meantime, if you’ve noticed any of the common problems listed under the tips above, it may be time to put some of these tips to use. After all, keeping the heat on leads to happy household residents!

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