It’s mid-winter, and you may be wondering if your furnace will make it through the season. Furnaces are one of the biggest comfort-factors for your home--so how do you know if yours is working properly, and if it isn’t, how do you know what to replace it with? Here are a few tips to get you through the winter.
How To Check Your Furnace Safely
- Check the label on your furnace. How old is it? If your furnace is reaching that 15- to 20-year threshold, it’s likely you’re nearing time for a replacement.
- Confirm that the circuit breaker is on. Sometimes, it can get tripped, and all it takes is a simple toggle of the switch.
- Check the air filter. If your air smells musty or dirty, that’s a good indication it’s time for a replacement filter. If the filter itself looks dirty or clogged, switch it out!
- Check the pilot light or electric ignition. If it’s off, follow instructions in your furnace’s user manual to troubleshoot.
- Clear any blockages at ducts and intake and exhaust vents.
If none of these fixes seem to do the trick, it’s time to call an HVAC specialist.
Signs That Could Indicate Furnace Failure
- You hear a clunking, whirring, or other strange noises.
- Your thermostat says the heat is on, but it’s blowing cold air.
- Your heating bill has suddenly spiked while your home-heating habits have not.
If you need to replace your furnace, there are a few factors to consider when making this purchase. Here are the basics of two of the most important:
- Climate & Furnace Efficiency - Furnaces have annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings to help you find the most efficient option for your home. Look for the furnace rated for your climate. They’re broken into two categories by Energy Star, and if you live in one of the southern states, you can purchase a furnace that’s Energy Star certified in the U.S. South. Since furnaces in milder temperatures don’t have to work as hard, they need an AFUE rating of 80 or higher. Colder climates will need a furnace with an AFUE rating of at least 90.
- Furnace Size - It’s essential to purchase the right size furnace to heat your living space. Too big, and you’ll be wasting excess heat--too small, and you’ll need to buy more sweaters. Calculating the BTUH capacity you’ll need in your furnace involves determining the heat factor for your particular home (how many BTUs will be necessary per square foot in your climate depending on your house’s age and build and how much heat will escape). An HVAC expert can help you determine the most appropriate size for your furnace.
Once you’ve found your perfect furnace, add one of these Energy Star certified smart thermostats for easy, customized climate control that will save you money on your energy bill:
- Nest Learning Thermostat - Nest monitors your HVAC to detect any potential issues and alert you via your smartphone (including sending you a reminder to change your air filter). It programs itself for the highest heating efficiency based on your schedule. You can also adjust the heat remotely, say to warm the house after a weekend away.
- EcoBee Smart Thermostat - Control this smart thermostat with your voice! It features Alexa, hands-free calling, an intercom, and Spotify all built-in. It also learns your schedule and adjusts for the highest efficiency.
- Sensi Touch Smart Thermostat - Sensi Touch sends HVAC monitoring alerts for both extreme temperatures & humidity levels, and their app even helps you install the thermostat. It’s also smart-flexible so that you can use it with Alexa, Google, and Apple. It learns your schedule or allows you to control it manually via the app.
Don’t let your furnace leave you out in the cold this year! With these quick tips, you’re on your way to finding the best fix or the best furnace for your situation.