We’re still enjoying the last vestiges of summer here in Martinsburg, West Virginia, but before you know it, winter will be here. Don’t let cold weather sneak up on you. Start getting your home—and your heating system—ready for winter now.
Sure, it feels a bit strange to think about heating your home when it’s still 70-plus degrees outside, but we promise you’ll thank us on that first cold autumn night when you have to turn on your heat or fire up your wood stove and it’s prepped and ready to warm you up.
Read on to learn more about why you should prepare your home for cold weather now and what steps you should take.
Prevent Heating Problems from Occurring or Getting Worse
You know that old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Well, it’s true, especially when it comes to keeping your heating system running smoothly and efficiently during winter. “Regular HVAC preventative maintenance is the best way to ensure trouble-free operation and peak performance,” according to our retail partner Trane’s HVAC Maintenance Checklist. “Pre-season maintenance is also important. It can help to avoid a system failure in severe hot or cold weather when you need it most, and it can also keep your energy bill from getting out of control.”
Whether you heat your home using a furnace, boiler, or heat pump or with a stove or fireplace, regular and pre-season maintenance are the key to preventing major problems and the associated costs for repairs. A dirty air filter, for example, can increase your energy costs and potentially damage your HVAC equipment, which can lead to early failure, according to Energy Star’s HVAC Maintenance Checklist.
Other potential problems, such as dirty burners or cracked heat exchangers on gas heating appliances, not only cause equipment to operate less efficiently, but they also can be safety and health hazards.
Some of the industry-recommended HVAC maintenance tasks are chores you can perform yourself, such as:
- Replacing your heat pump’s air filter at least every 90 days (or more often if you have pets or are renovating the interior of your home)
- Ensuring that outdoor units are on firm and level ground
- Keeping leaves and other debris from piling up around outdoor units
- Regularly cleaning ashes out of your stove or fireplace
- Checking and cleaning your wood or pellet stove’s flue vent regularly
- Periodically cleaning the inside of wood and pellet stoves with a wire brush
Other tasks are best left to a professional HVAC technician. These include:
- Tightening all electrical connections and measuring voltage and current on motors. “Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components,” according to Energy Star.
- Lubricating all the moving parts. “Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use,” according to Energy Star.
- Checking system controls to ensure correct and safe operation
- Checking the starting cycle of the equipment to make sure it starts and shuts off properly
- Checking all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion, and heat exchanger. “Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems,” according to Energy Star.
These are only a few of the tasks that our HVAC technicians will perform during an inspection and routine tune-up of your heating equipment.
Homeowners with gas, wood, or pellet stoves or fireplaces also should have their equipment, including their chimneys, inspected by a certified technician at least once a year. “Chimney fires can be extremely devastating; getting regular inspections is a good way to reduce the risk of chimney fires and identify any existing problems,” according to an article for HomeAdvisor.com. “It is a good idea to get your wood stove and chimney inspected before the heating season begins so your stove will be in top working order for the cold months ahead.”
Waiting to address problems with HVAC equipment typically makes the situation worse, especially during severe cold or heat. “If you wait an additional six months before addressing a problem in your heating or A/C, even if it’s still functioning, you could cause it to run less efficiently and have to work harder, which will shorten its overall life span and increase your monthly energy bills,” according to an article for Angie’s List.
Is your heating system due for a pre-season inspection and tune-up? At Sunfire Energy Solutions, we offer expert HVAC and hearth equipment installation and servicing as well as chimney services including cleanings and inspections, rebuilding, flashing repairs, video inspections, masonry work, and more.
Upgrade Now and Save All Winter
Heating your home doesn’t typically come cheap. In fact, heating “uses more energy and costs more than any other system in your home—typically making up about 42% of your utility bill,” according to this infographic from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
If you’re relying on an older heating appliance to heat your home, you may want to consider upgrading before the cold weather hits. Older units (e.g., heat pumps that are more than 10 years old and furnaces and boilers that are more than 15 years old) can mean surprise issues and frequent repairs, and thus higher costs for you.
Older units also are less energy efficient than newer models. Energy Star qualified furnaces, for instance, are 15 percent more efficient than most older models, while Energy Star qualified heat pumps can save up to 20 percent on heating costs.
If you have an older heating appliance, consider replacing it now rather than later to save money all winter long. At Sunfire Energy Solutions, we carry several brands of top-of-the-line heating appliances, including Trane and Luxaire HVAC systems as well as stoves, fireplaces, and inserts by Quadra-Fire, Heat & Glo, and Jøtul.
Maximize Your Home’s Heating Efficiency
You can save money on your heating bills not only by properly maintaining and upgrading your heating equipment but also by taking a whole-house approach—looking at your house “as an energy system with interdependent parts”—the DOE advises.
Even the most energy efficient heat pumps and furnaces on the market will waste a lot of energy if your home’s ductwork, walls, windows, and doors are leaky. However, you can save up to 30 percent on your energy bills “by combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings,” according to the DOE.
Before you make any changes to your home, conduct a home energy audit to determine where your home is losing the most heat. Look for things like indoor and outdoor air leaks, less than recommended levels of insulation in the ceiling and walls, as well as issues with your home’s heating equipment and ductwork.
Once you know where you stand, you can take action on those areas where you’ll save the most energy. “Sealing and insulating ducts, for example, can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent—and sometimes much more,” according to Energy Star’s Guide to Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling.
For more advice, ask our expert HVAC technicians how you can maximize the efficiency of your heating system during your next inspection or tune-up.
Beat the Rush
Winter and summer are the busiest times of year for HVAC service providers, so schedule your HVAC tune-up or upgrade your equipment now to beat the winter rush.
While we always strive to accommodate last-minute needs and heating and cooling emergencies at Sunfire Energy Solutions, we also recommend that customers try to schedule pre-season inspections, routine maintenance, and upgrades in spring and fall. This helps us ensure that we’re providing each of our customers with the highest level of service possible all year long.
Call Sunfire Energy Solutions today at 304-267-3029 to learn more about our HVAC and hearth services and to schedule your HVAC inspection and tune-up.
Thinking about upgrading your heating equipment before winter gets here? Visit our showroom at 301 East Stephen Street in Martinsburg to browse our selection of HVAC and hearth products from Luxeaire, Trane, Quadra-Fire, Heat & Glo, Jøtul, Blaze King, and more.
Sunfire Energy Solutions is a one-stop shop for grills, HVAC products and installation, hearth appliances, outdoor furniture, and hot tubs. We serve customers in Martinsburg, Shepherdstown, Charles Town, Ranson, Hedgesville, and Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, as well as the surrounding region, including parts of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Learn more at www.sunfireenergysolutions.com.