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Common heating mistakes to avoid this winter

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Nov 20, 2018 10:18:42 AM

Smart thermostat‘Tis the season for tossing logs into the fireplace or cranking up the furnace. While winter hasn’t officially arrived, it’s close!

Heating your home during the winter months can be costly. One of the most relied upon systems in your home is your furnace. Sadly enough, it may also be the most neglected system. It’s often tucked in a closet or your basement. You may not think about it even when you flip the switch to turn it on.

Investing in smart technology and avoiding common heating mistakes can benefit you, your family, and your wallet.

Programmable vs. Smart Thermostats

Growing up, my parent’s home had a basic thermostat. Other than setting the temperature, it was either on or off.

My current home has a programmable thermostat that allows me to create a schedule based on my family's needs. The problem with this type of thermostat is that it can be challenging to program.

I’ve managed to figure mine out, and it works well. While programmable thermostats get the job done, the latest trend is the installation of smart thermostats. A fellow team member has had a Nest thermostat for several years and loves it. While I’ve considered replacing my programmable thermostat, the price tag always scares me away. If you’re ready to take the plunge, a smart thermostat can:

1. Adapt and create schedules automatically based on how you use it;

2. Offer improved interaction, i.e., easier to read and responds to motion;

3. Link to your smartphone so that you can access it from anywhere in the world; and

4. Collect, analyze, and present heating and cooling costs data.

If you would like to learn more about the Nest thermostat, you can click here.

Common Heating mistakes

Installing a smart thermostat is one way to improve your home’s efficiency. By avoiding these common heating mistakes, you can improve its efficiency even more.

1. Cranking up your thermostat.

Unlike your car, cranking up the temperature on your thermostat doesn’t heat your home faster. Turning up the temperature and forgetting about it will cause your furnace to work harder and longer. In the end, this equates to a higher utility bill.

2. Setting your thermostat too low.

I’ve read some articles that indicate that turning your heat down seven to ten degrees for up to eight hours can save you as much as 10% a year on your utility bills. Following this approach can be drastic and cause your furnace to work even harder to get your home back up to a comfortable temperature. My recommendation is to make minor adjustments. This way, you can see how you, your family, and your furnace respond. If you like it cool, never set your temperature below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing this can lead to frozen pipes, headaches, and significant expenses. 

3. Neglecting your air filter.

An essential part of your furnace is the air filter. HVAC professionals recommend changing your furnace filter every three months. Changing your filter regularly can:

a. Improve air quality;

b. Increase efficiency;

c. Extend the life of your furnace; and

d. Keep your home and ductwork cleaner.

To learn more about selecting and installing a furnace filter, click here

4. Avoid yearly furnace maintenance.

Every year, when severe cold weather strikes, we hear on the news about repair backlogs. Tuning up your furnace now can uncover minor problems and improve overall efficiency. 

5. Forgetting to lock your windows.

Locking your windows during winter creates a tight seal that keeps the cold air out. Consider caulking, weather stripping, or installing plastic over extremely drafty windows.

6. Forgetting to turn off your exhaust fans.

During the winter months, this becomes more of an issue. Running them longer than needed sends the warm air right out.

7. Closing vents and doors.

I remember my grandma always closing her doors to avoid heating unoccupied rooms in her home. Your best bet is to keep vents and doors open. This allows warm air to circulate through your home, which helps maintain a consistent temperature.

8. Blocking the sunlight.

Sunny days can be scarce during the winter months. Precipitation and warmer temperatures can bring more clouds. However, when that nice sunny day arrives, make sure your curtains or blinds are open, especially if your home has southern exposure.

Do you have any suggestions or information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.


This article is intended for general educational and illustrative purposes only and should not be construed to communicate legal or professional advice. Further, this article is not an offer to sell insurance. Please consult with your licensed insurance agent for specific coverage details and your insurance eligibility. All policies are subject to the terms, conditions, limitations, definitions, and exclusions contained therein.

Topics: Home Safety

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