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A Homeowner’s Guide: How to Prepare Your Heating and Cooling System for the Cold Weather

When the winter season arrives and outdoor temperatures drop, air conditioning systems take a long winter’s nap while heating equipment works around the clock. Homeowners across the Columbus, Ohio area rely on their furnaces, heat pumps, or boiler heating systems for comfort and safety throughout the cold months.

We are in an El Nino pattern this winter, which tends to bring milder temperatures and less snowfall. However local meteorologists say you can't ever count out a cold winter in Central Ohio.

"In El Niño seasons since 1950, Central Ohio has tended to be warmer-than-average in December, slightly cooler-than-average in January, and well below average in February. We tend to see a significant warm-up again in March," says Marshall McPeek, Columbus meteorologist at WSYX-TV. "That means, overall, the three-month winter season ends up averaging below normal."

To ensure your heating system operates dependably and your cooling equipment stays safe during its seasonal break, it’s important that you know how to prepare your heating and cooling system for winter. The right steps will help your furnace, heat pump, or boiler operate reliably while providing your family a safe, comfortable indoor environment.

Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing helps area homeowners prep their HVAC systems for the heating season ahead. Our NATE-certified professionals share how to protect sidelined cooling equipment while readying heating units for several months of heavy use.

1. Don’t Skip a Furnace Tune-Up

No matter what type of heating system you use, whether it’s a furnace, heat pump, or boiler, a maintenance tune-up is critical to its reliable, ongoing performance this winter. Make sure you schedule a heating tune-up with your HVAC company, preferably in the fall before it’s time to use the system. 

Boilers and furnaces require one yearly tune-up, while heat pumps need two tune-ups as they provide heating and cooling throughout the year.

  • During a professional tune-up, all system components receive the attention and care needed to minimize stress and damage caused by regular wear and tear. Relieving your heating equipment of these stressors can improve operating efficiency and prevent damage to your system. Skipping maintenance can mean your heating system is operating at a much lower efficiency level than the stated AFUE or HSPF ratings for the equipment, which increases your heating bills while making it hard to properly heat your home.

  • A maintenance tune-up provides a chance for flaws and errors in the system to be identified and fixed before they snowball into larger problems. Catching these issues when they’re still small often means easy and affordable repairs, whereas the problem could become much more extensive and expensive if not addressed early on. The services provided during your tune-up help your heating system provide the most reliable operation over the winter, limiting the possibility of breakdowns and repairs.

  • With regular maintenance tune-ups for your heating equipment, you can help your furnace, boiler, or heat pump last longer. Alleviating stress from wear and tear keeps parts in good condition and eliminates stress that damages the system’s performance and efficiency. With more life from your current system, you can save money when it comes to system replacement costs.

2. Filter Replacement

If you have a forced air heating system like a conventional furnace or heat pump, filter changes are an essential part of system upkeep. The air filter traps particle pollution so it doesn’t make its way into the equipment, where it could settle and cause damage or stress to components.

Filter changes should be performed on a regular basis, every month to every 12 months depending on the filter in use and conditions unique to your home. If you haven’t installed a new filter recently, you should check the filter before the winter season and determine if a change is needed.

Remember, your HVAC system sees more use in the winter than it does during times of the year where the weather is mild and less heating or cooling is needed. For this reason, it’s normal for filters to fill at a faster rate than during those times – if you find you need to change your air filter more frequently in the winter, that is completely normal. Check the filter each month during the winter season so you can assess its condition and decide when replacement is needed.

Running your heating system on a dirty filter can cause many problems over the winter. Components of your heating equipment can become stressed and be damaged due to dust and dirt settling inside the unit. A clogged filter restricts airflow, forcing your furnace or heat pump to consume more energy to move heated air into your living spaces. You may notice indoor comfort control challenges as a result, and your heating system may even shut down due to overheating from a dirty filter.

3. Get Your Humidifier Ready

Dry air can be a problem in Columbus homes over the winter, creating the need for added moisture. Whole home humidifiers provide the necessary humidity to keep levels balanced in the proper range throughout this season. Without a reliable humidifier, your home may not receive the added moisture necessary to counteract dry air problems. Damage to the humidifier and its components could result in leaks and water damage to your home, as well as mold growth.

If you have a whole home humidifier installed to work with your HVAC system, perform maintenance ahead of heating season so that it is ready to perform when you need it.

  • The water panel inside your humidifier should be changed at least two times per season. Install a freshwater panel before winter to allow the humidifier to operate with ease once it’s time to turn it on.

  • Take out the water reservoir and give it a good cleaning. This removes mineral scale buildup that can inhibit performance, as well as microbes that can grow inside this equipment.

  • Fan-powered and steam whole-house humidifiers have an intake vent. Wipe down this vent to remove any debris that may restrict this opening.

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe down the humidifier’s housing, removing any dirt or debris that have accumulated on the exterior of the unit.

  • Check the humidifier’s dedicated drain line, making sure there are no cracks in the drain tube – if there is damage, replace this tube now. Verify that the drain tube is secure and is directed to empty in the proper location.

  • Once you’ve completed this maintenance, turn the unit on – since whole-home humidifiers aren’t often used outside of the winter season, it may have been turned off last spring.

4. Clean Your Heating Equipment

The inner workings of your heating unit will be cleaned during your maintenance tune-up, but it’s a good idea to give the exterior cabinet a good cleaning on your own, too. Whether your indoor unit is a furnace or air handler, cleaning its exterior will eliminate particles that could make their way inside the unit. 

Inspecting the exterior of your heating equipment will allow you to address potential safety issues and reduce the risk of a fire over the winter months.

  • Use a cleaning cloth to wipe down the exterior of the furnace or air handler’s metal cabinet.

  • If there are any items sitting around the unit, relocate them to another area so that the space around your furnace or air handler is free and clear. You don’t want to store items up against the indoor unit as they may block airflow into the unit. Flammable materials should be stored in a location that is a minimum of six feet away from the unit.

  • Once you’re finished with this cleaning, check over the unit’s exterior and verify that all access panels are properly closed and are not loose. A loose or open panel can prevent the unit from starting, depending on your equipment model.

5. Adjust Thermostat Settings

When you’re ready to start heating your home, you’ll need to adjust your thermostat settings from the previous cooling schedules used in the summer and fall months. 

Seasonal changes often coincide with schedule changes for members of the household, so you’ll want to account for these differences as well when you program winter heating schedules.

  • For times when the home will be occupied, select a temperature that is efficient yet still comfortable for members of your family. For winter heating, a setting of 68 degrees is typically recommended for maximizing the efficiency of your furnace, heat pump, or boiler while keeping the people indoors comfortable as well.

  • Programming setbacks of 7 to 10 degrees or more over periods of 8 or more hours each day can help you cut back on heating costs by as much as 10% this year. Stretches of time where everyone is out of the house during the day as well as overnight hours when your household is asleep are typically easy times to implement use of lower temperatures without disruption to indoor comfort.

  • The thermostat also controls the fan in your furnace or air handler. The fan should be set to AUTO, not ON. When the fan is set on AUTO, it only cycles as the heating unit runs a heating cycle – the fan circulates warmed air through ducts and into rooms of the home. If your HVAC fan is set to ON, it will run all the time, consuming more energy and even causing your living areas to feel a blast of cool air from the vents between heating cycles.

6. Prep Outdoor Units for Winter

If you have a split system that uses an air conditioner for cooling or a heat pump for year-round heating and cooling, you have both indoor and outdoor HVAC equipment to tend to. The air conditioner or heat pump is the unit that sits outside the home and connects to the indoor furnace or air handler via refrigerant lines that run between this equipment. 

Air conditioners that will sit dormant over the winter require some care to prevent damage – same with heat pumps, but they also require attention to ensure good operation throughout the season.

  • Brush away any debris that have stuck along the fins on the exterior of the unit.

  • Remove weeds and plants growing up around the base of the unit.

  • Trim back trees and shrubs that grow in the immediate vicinity of the unit.

  • Don’t store outdoor items against the air conditioner or heat pump for the winter – put patio furniture, grills, and outdoor toys in another safe location for the season. The immediate 24 inches of space on all sides of your outdoor HVAC unit should always be clear to facilitate proper airflow through the equipment and allow access in case repairs are needed.

  • Remove dead branches in trees on your property, as ice and heavy winds during winter storms can send these limbs crashing down into your HVAC equipment, potentially inflicting damage.

  • Check the gutters that run along the roofline over your heat pump or air conditioner, if applicable. Remove debris from the gutters with a thorough cleaning and verify the gutters drain correctly – clogged gutters can allow runoff from melting snow or rain to drip down onto the HVAC unit, where the water could potentially freeze and cause damage or restrict performance of the system.

  • The outdoor unit will have an ON/OFF switch located either on its exterior or it could be positioned on a nearby exterior wall, typically close to where the refrigerant lines run into the home. For air conditioners only, go ahead and flip the switch to OFF for the winter, which will prevent the outdoor unit from accidentally running over the winter, should the thermostat be improperly set.

  • You may have seen air conditioner covers advertised or for sale at your local home improvement store. Though these products are available, they aren’t necessary to buy and use – outdoor HVAC units are designed to be exposed to the elements and withstand damage, so they won’t be harmed by snow or rain over the winter. However, covering the outdoor air conditioner can provide protection if you fear falling limbs. Cut a piece of plywood to fit the top of the unit and secure it to cover your air conditioner – just remember to remove it in the spring so it doesn’t keep moisture trapped within, and always take it off before running the air conditioner again or else it could cause damage to the cooling unit.

7. Radiator Care

Some homes in the Columbus, Ohio area use boiler heating systems and hot-water radiators – this equipment is very common in the area’s historic residences. Before you start using your boiler for heat this winter, you should bleed the radiators so they operate more efficiently this season. Bleeding radiator valves frees trapped air in the system that can disrupt even heating.

There are a few different signs to watch for so you know there is air trapped in your radiators or the pipes running between the boiler and radiators, and that bleeding is necessary. If your pipes or radiators create a gurgling sound when the boiler is on, this indicates air trapped within. Uneven warmth from the radiator is another sign it needs to be bled – if the radiator itself has hot and cold spots, like warmth at the bottom of the unit while the top stays cold, this means there is air trapped inside.

8. Chimney Service and Inspection

Many Columbus homes have fireplaces, and many area homeowners enjoy using the fireplace for warmth and ambiance over the winter season. Before using your fireplace this season, you should have it professionally inspected and cleaned if needed by an accredited chimney sweep. According to the National Fire Protection Association NFPA 211 standards, chimneys and fireplaces, as well as their vents should be inspected once per year at minimum. Inspection checks that the proper clearances are maintained, the structure is sound and identifies any creosote deposits that should be removed before use.

Creosote is a kind of soot that can build up in a chimney from burning wood in the fireplace. If creosote buildup reaches a certain point, it can block smoke from exiting the chimney properly cause gases like carbon monoxide to back up into the home, and even catch fire. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends open masonry fireplaces receive sweeping when creosote deposits reach 1/8-inch thickness. A glazed system should be swept sooner. If you use a manufactured fireplace with an enclosed firebox, have the chimney and fireplace swept whenever there is noticeable soot buildup to protect the integrity of these materials from acidic creosote deposits.

9. Test Function of Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Every home in the Columbus area needs to have working smoke alarms installed. Any home with gas appliances, fireplaces, or even attached garages also need working carbon monoxide detectors. Before the winter season starts, test these safety devices and verify they work correctly so they can alert your family to any dangers in your home. 

Replace faulty devices as necessary and continue to test them over the season.

  • Before it’s time to use your gas heating equipment as well as every month throughout the year, test each smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Simply push in the TEST button on the unit and wait for the alarm to sound. If the alarm fails to go off or the tone is weak or unsteady, remove the unit and replace it with a brand-new model.

  • There are many different models of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, some of which can be hardwired to run off your home’s electrical power. Even if you have these types of devices installed in your home, each unit still has the option for batteries to be used as a backup source of power – always insert batteries to back up your hardwired devices, so they will be able to operate even in the event of a power outage or if their circuit breaker trips.

  • Batteries in both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every six months, or sooner if the device starts producing the tell-tale chirp that warns you of failing batteries. Go ahead and swap out the batteries in all units before the winter season and replace them with fresh batteries in each device, even if the current batteries are not dead. You can save these batteries for use elsewhere in your home, but give these safety devices new batteries to ensure they have power in the event of an emergency in your home.

  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors require periodic replacement. A smoke detector should be replaced every 10 years, while carbon monoxide alarms require replacement every five to seven years, depending on their model. When changing batteries, remove the device and check the unit for an expiration date or a manufacturing date – if the expiration date will occur within the next six months or the manufacturing date puts the age of the unit to five or seven years within the next six months, go ahead and uninstall the current unit and replace it with a new model.

10. Open Air Vents and Clean Registers

To keep your furnace or heat pump running efficiently this winter, all supply and return air vents throughout your home need to be open and unobstructed. You may have heard a common HVAC myth about closing vents in unused areas to conserve energy – don’t do this, as it could cause damage to your heating equipment. Your heating system was designed to produce heated air for delivery into all spaces with vents, so blocking one or many of them can cause too much pressure in the ducts as well as overheating in your heating unit.

Take a walk around the interior of your home, checking the vents in every room – verify each vent is open and isn’t obstructed by items in the house.

  • Some register covers are louvered, which means they have slats that can be opened and closed to control airflow from the vent. All louvered register covers should be set open so air can freely flow from the supply vent. If a register cover’s louvers are stuck in a closed or partially closed position, you can remove the cover and clean it to see if you are able to free up the mechanism and set the louvers open. If the cover is damaged and you cannot open the louvers, remove it and install a new register cover.

  • It’s easy for supply and return vents to be obstructed by household items such as rugs and furniture, along with pretty much any other item found in the home. As you inspect the vents, make sure all large furniture is moved away from the supply and return vents, and move rugs so that floor vents are fully exposed.

  • The register covers for supply and return air vents can become quite dirty as air moves through them, circulating through your home and HVAC system. As you inspect each vent, it’s a good time to clean register covers so that dirt and dust doesn’t accumulate and restrict airflow to the room or to the return duct. Use a vacuum and brush attachment to clean register covers as needed. If dirt and grime is caked onto the register cover, it may be necessary to completely remove the cover and scrub the deposits with a soap and water solution – just make sure the covers are fully dry before reinstalling them.

11. Duct Checks

If you use a forced air furnace or heat pump for heating in winter, check your home’s ducts before winter arrives to ensure your heating system is equipped with an efficient air distribution system. Tears in flex ducts, loose joints, and disconnected duct runs can cause heat to leak out of the duct system, which wastes energy as your furnace or heat pump must work extra to generate more heat and make up for these losses. Finding these duct problems now means they can be corrected right away so your heating system will be supported by efficient ducts when it’s time to add warmth to your home.

Duct leaks are a leading culprit of heating inefficiencies in the average home, in Columbus and across the country. Losses of 20% to 30% are common in most homes, and typically homeowners have no idea these losses are occurring due to the location of ducts, which is largely inaccessible in many homes. Heat produced by your furnace or heat pump spills into unheated areas and doesn’t make it into your living spaces, and cool air from these unheated zones can seep into the duct system and lower the temperature of your heated air before it arrives in its destination. Both heat losses and cold air infiltration force the heating system to consume more energy to make up for this waste.

If you notice damage to any of the ductwork you are able to access and inspect, note the problem, and contact your HVAC company for duct sealing services. If you cannot access your ducts, don’t worry – HVAC professionals are able to test for duct leaks in any area of your home and seal them shut using efficient methods that will help your duct system retain heat and more efficiently serve both your heating system and your living areas.

12. Test out Your Heating Unit

Whether your home is heated by a furnace, boiler, or heat pump, don’t wait until the first cold day of the season to fire it up or you could find yourself stuck in the cold and full of regret. The busiest day of the year for heating repairs is that first cold day, as many area homeowners go to turn on their furnaces or other types of heaters and find that they either don’t heat properly or don’t come on at all. If you find yourself in this group, you may be waiting awhile for repairs due to the shear volume of service calls most HVAC companies are handling at this time.

If you’ve had your annual heating maintenance tune-up performed in the fall, your furnace, heat pump, or boiler has been tested at least once ahead of the season. Even though you’ve had a professional test your heater, it’s wise to do so a few more times before cold weather moves in.

  • Test heating system operation by setting your thermostat to the temperature you’d normally set it to for winter heating.

  • Once the system comes on, allow the equipment to run a cycle. As it does so, observe its operation – is warm air coming from all supply vents? Does the unit shut down after just a few minutes? Are all areas of the home at a comfortable temperature when the heating cycle ends?

  • If you observe issues with your heating system’s performance during these tests, call your HVAC company to make repairs now. This should allow ample time to have these system flaws corrected so that your furnace, heat pump, or boiler operates at its best when it’s time to start using it more regularly.

We suggest starting up your heating unit and letting it run a cycle at least three times before it gets cold outside. Make sure the system comes on when it’s supposed to and runs a full heating cycle, achieving the desired temperatures in your living areas before shutting down. It’s important to not only make sure the furnace, boiler, or heat pump turns on but runs properly and heats your home effectively – there are various mechanical issues that could occur in your unit which don’t prevent the equipment from turning on.

13. Sound Check Your Heater

When testing the operation and performance of your heating unit ahead of the winter season, we also recommend you listen closely as your system runs. Strange sounds as your furnace, boiler, or heat pump starts, cycles, and/or shuts down can be signs of performance problems or faulty parts in the system which need to be fixed before your heating unit is able to operate at its highest level.

These are noises to listen for as you take your furnace, heat pump, or boiler for a pre-season test drive:

  • Clicking noises are common when a heating cycle starts. The thermostat often will produce a quick click as it sends a signal to your heater to start up. The ducts may also make a clicking or pinging sound toward the beginning of the heating cycle, as the cold metal warms up and expands. Clicking sounds you need to be mindful of are repeated clicking from the furnace unit. A single click from the unit is normal, as it’s the sound of the ignitor starting the burners. If the furnace unit continues to produce repeated clicking, this usually indicates repeated attempts to fire up the burners – meaning something is wrong with the ignition system and it is not lighting the burners to combust gas, so you have no heat. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by a professional at once.

  • Clicking as a heating cycle runs can be a sign of worn bearings in the blower motor. If you feel heat coming from your vents while this clicking continues, you’ll know it’s not a sign of an ignition problem but likely worn blower motor bearings. The bearings may need to be lubricated, or it may be necessary to replace the blower motor if the bearings have rusted or have worn out.

  • A loud bang or pop from the furnace when a heating cycle starts indicates delayed ignition, which is commonly due to dirty burners. Dirt and soot buildup prevent the burners from lighting gas right away, so the gas entering your furnace builds up in the combustion chamber until the burners are able to activate and ignite it. The bang or pop means that gas was finally ignited, but also tells you there is a serious problem with your system as this is a potential fire hazard. When this noise is detected, stop using your furnace and have a heating repair professional out to fix the system before further use.

  • A steady hum is normal as your heating equipment cycles. Knocking or pinging sounds can also be normal as the metal ducts and metal equipment cabinet warms and expands. If you start to hear these noises more often or they last longer, there may be an issue within your system causing the equipment to overheat. A dirty air filter is one such problem, as it prevents air from flowing properly through the furnace or air handler and causes the equipment to overheat. Closed vent covers and obstructed vents can also cause hot air to back up in the ducts, increasing these noises. Check the filter and replace it if needed, and make sure all vents are open and unobstructed to resolve these sounds.

14. Tackle HVAC Upgrades and Repairs

Maintenance tune-ups are a great tool for identifying issues present in your heating system, allowing you to schedule the needed repairs before it’s time to start using your furnace, heat pump, or boiler around the clock. Don’t wait to make these repairs – even though your system may still run with known flaws present, using the heating unit will likely cause those problems to worsen. It may become more and more difficult to keep your home heated to your liking, and your system will sustain more damage that can be more complicated and costly to correct. If you ignore these problems long enough, repairs may no longer be an option and your heating system may be damaged to the point that it needs to be replaced.

If you remember experiencing challenges heating your home or funny sounds coming from your heater this past winter, address these issues before the next heating season. It’s better to tackle heating repairs before winter arrives for multiple reasons – your technician likely isn’t as busy during the fall and can tend to your needs without much wait, and you’ll know your system is in top shape in time for cold weather’s arrival. You’ll avoid a long wait for repairs once winter does touch down and you won’t be stuck paying for emergency service to get your heat back on if your system fails entirely.

The same goes for heating system upgrades – have new equipment installed ahead of winter. If you know it’s time to replace your furnace, boiler, or heat pump, doing so in the off-season has many advantages. You’ll have more time to research your equipment options and make a purchase decision you’re comfortable with, not one where you feel stuck settling in the middle of winter for the sake of getting the heat back on in your home as soon as possible. You may also get the benefit of installation promotions that save you money, as often HVAC contractors offer deals in the off-season to keep their teams working.

15. Inspect Blower Belt

If you use a forced air furnace or heat pump system for heating, your system includes a blower assembly which has the job of pushing heated air from the heating unit, through the ducts, and into rooms across your home. The blower assembly sits inside your furnace or air handler and includes a motor and fan. Newer units typically are direct drive, meaning these components are directly connected. Older models are often belt driven, meaning there is a belt that links both components and allows the motor to turn the fan.

If your blower assembly is belt driven, the belt can experience issues over time that prevent the blower from running efficiently or prevent it from running altogether. The belt may loosen or start to fray as it wears out and slip from the pulley track. The belt may even break entirely, so the motor cannot turn the fan at all. 

To avoid performance issues and lack of blower function from your heating system, check the belt prior to winter’s start.

  • Shut off power to your indoor heating equipment and remove the access panel so that you can observe the blower assembly.

  • Look over the belt for signs of wear including fraying, cracks, and other indicators of damage. If the belt is damaged, it should be replaced now.

  • Check the belt’s position. Is it properly threaded around the pulleys on the motor and fan? If the belt has slipped or twisted, you need to reposition it. Loosen the pulleys via their mounting bolts and reposition the belt before tightening the pulleys to realign them.

  • Proper tension is critical for the blower assembly to function correctly. Observe the belt’s slack – if it gives more than a half-inch in either direction, it needs to be tightened.

16. Check and Clear the Condensate Drain

If your Columbus home is equipped with a high-efficiency condensing furnace, a condensate drain system is part of the unit. This is because gases condense into liquid form within the unit, whereas they exit other types of furnaces as a vapor through the flue. For this moisture to properly leave the furnace, the condensate drain system must be free of obstruction – or else moisture can back up, causing the system to shut down as well as water damage to surrounding areas of your home.

The condensate drain line is PVC piping that extends off the furnace unit. The condensate trap can become blocked, preventing moisture from exiting the furnace.

  • Remove an access cap and pour water through the line. Make sure water exits the end of the line into a nearby floor drain.
  • Hot water can help break up clogs in the condensate trap, so rinse out the line a few times if necessary.
  • Inspect the pipe’s condition. If it is cracked or isn’t properly sloped to allow for proper drainage, it needs to be replaced or adjusted.

17. Fill up on Fuel

Some homes use liquid propane or heating oil to power their furnaces over the winter months. These types of heating fuels are stored in a tank on the property and require filling to maintain the home’s reserve of heating fuel. 

Prior to winter, it’s important to check fuel levels in the tank and schedule a fuel delivery if needed when reserves drop to a certain point.

  • Liquid propane tanks should be refilled once reserves in the tank drop to 20%.
  • Heating oil tanks should be refilled once reserves drop to the two-fifths measure on the gauge.

Running out of fuel reserves in the middle of winter is inconvenient, especially when it takes you by surprise. Stock up on heating fuel in the fall to ensure you have ample fuel needed to heat your home through the season and avoid the wait for refueling, as well as additional charges from your fuel company.

To estimate your heating fuel need this winter, you can work off these guidelines:

  • One gallon of liquid propane equals one hour of heating for most compatible furnaces.
  • Two to five gallons of oil are used for heating per day, depending on temperatures outdoors.

Make sure you don’t run out of heating fuel by monitoring the tank gauge regularly. There are also new technologies that provide remote monitoring so you can assess your heating fuel reserves at your convenience. You don’t want to run out of fuel entirely, as this creates additional problems. Liquid propane tanks require inspection before refilling if they become completely empty, because moisture may accumulate and cause rust that could lead to a leak in the tank. Running an oil tank too low can cause moisture infiltration, leading to rust and possible bacterial growth inside, both of which can clog oil supply lines and reduce the efficiency of the furnace.

18. Establish Heating Zones

If it has been difficult to evenly heat all areas of your home, you may want to invest in a zoning system for your heating and cooling system before the start of winter. Zoning technology allows you to split the home into individual zones and control these climates separately. This is a big change over using one thermostat and one setting to provide comfort in all areas of the home.

When zoning equipment is installed, individual thermostats are placed in each zone, so occupants can control operation of the furnace to provide the precision heat needed in this area without impacting the other zones. Dampers installed in ducts route heating to only the areas where it is needed without increasing temperatures in other spaces.

Zoning systems are excellent tools for solving common comfort challenges in the house, such as a hot upstairs and cold downstairs. They can also be used to give each household member the ability to set their space to their personal climate preference without affecting another’s comfort, ending the thermostat war in your home. What’s even better is that use of a zoning system can improve heating efficiency and conserve energy so your heating bills aren’t as high.

19. Boost Insulation Levels

Help your home retain more heat and keep cold air out this season by upping the insulation. With more insulation, your home is better able to keep the heat produced by your furnace inside, so your furnace doesn’t have to work extra in order to make up for energy losses.

Adding insulation can be a DIY project or a professional one, depending on your target areas as well as your comfort level. To improve heating efficiency, it may help to add insulation to the attic as well as below floors. Insulating ductwork can also help the duct system retain heat as air cycles from the heating unit to your living areas.

20. Adjust Fan Rotation

When the seasons change, it’s time to change the direction of your ceiling fans, too. Set fans to spin clockwise during the winter months, which generates an updraft. Warm air gathered around ceiling level is pushed back down to the spaces that are occupied so people can be warmed by this air instead of it being wasted up high.

To change ceiling fan direction, there is a switch on the fan’s motor casing. Moving the direction of the switch causes the blades to spin the opposite direction if you had them set to rotate counterclockwise for summer comfort. Remember, turn off fans whenever a room is not in use, as their benefits are only helpful when people are present to feel them – otherwise, running fans is just a waste of electricity.

Prepare Your Heating and Cooling System for Winter with Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing

Buckeye Heating, Cooling & Plumbing helps homeowners in Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding areas get their home heating and cooling equipment in shape for the cold winter season ahead. To schedule professional services such as a heating system tune-up or repairs before winter, give us a call today!

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