There are plenty of reasons many homeowners are making the switch to electric furnaces. They are far simpler to install and run than traditional furnaces. This is because they don’t require access to a gas or propane line. All they need to produce heat is electricity, which vastly simplifies the process of heating the home. Their parts and installation are often significantly less expensive than other, more traditional heating methods.
Electric furnaces also do not produce harmful byproducts, unlike fuel-burning furnaces: no carbon monoxide means no complicated system of ventilation and alarms that need to be set up.
There is, however, a major downside to this method of heating your home. Because electricity itself is expensive, it can cost a great deal of money to keep your home comfortable during the coldest parts of the year. However, this doesn’t mean that electrical heating is a lost cause. You simply have to work to maximize its efficiency, which you can do with these five tips.
1. Take Advantage of Good Old-Fashioned Sunshine
The first, and simplest, tip on this list is to avoid needing to run the heater in the first place whenever you can. If it’s sunny outside, open the curtains and let that sunshine in. It can actually do a lot to warm up the home. This can help you minimize the use of your electric furnace.
Once the sun goes down, shut the curtains and blinds, as those windows that were previously helping to warm your home will become sources of cold air instead. By keeping the blinds and curtains shut, you’ll block some of that cold from getting into your home and save your furnace some work.
2. Regularly Change the Filter
One of the major benefits of an electric furnace is its efficiency. They utilize what’s known as resistance heating, which is actually the same method a toaster uses to generate heat. Electricity is conducted through specific elements called resistors, which become hot when this happens. As all of the electricity is converted into heat energy, they are 100 percent efficient in this regard.
Despite this, a lot of that heat energy can be lost if it isn’t efficiently transferred throughout the home. Air that is heated by the coils is pumped through a system of vents by a large fan. However, if the air can’t get through the vents effectively, it will reduce the efficiency of the whole system and eventually drive the energy bill way up.
Avoid this problem by regularly changing the filter in your HVAC system. Even if it doesn’t appear to be that dirty, regularly replacing it with a new and clean filter will do a lot to help you make the most of your electric furnace.
3. Make Sure the Thermostat Works—And Use It!
Your HVAC system depends a lot on one simple piece of technology: the thermostat. You can program the thermostat to remain at whatever temperature is comfortable for you, and it will cycle the heater on and off as necessary to make sure this temperature is maintained. In this way, your home stays at the temperature you want.
As you might imagine, however, this type of system is prone to problems. If the thermostat malfunctions, it can cycle the machine on and off more than necessary, leading to unnecessarily increased heating costs. Regularly have a professional from a company like Entek HVAC inspect your thermostat to ensure it is in good working order.
If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure you use it as well. Many “smart” heating systems can be set from a distance or to a timer. This means you can turn your system on as you leave work so that your home is nice and warm when you arrive but that the heater doesn’t run any longer than necessary.
4. Turn the Thermostat Down Just a Few Degrees
Now that you have your thermostat in good working order, help to make the most of your electric furnace by reducing the temperature by just a small amount. In many cases, it won’t even be noticeable for you and can actually save you a great deal on energy costs. If you turn that thermostat down a few more degrees (and tell everyone in the home to dress warmly), you can save even more money.
You can also turn the thermostat down at night, when everyone is snuggled up in bed. The blankets will provide that extra heat you need, so it will be easier to achieve a comfortable temperature.
It’s estimated you can save about 3 percent on your heating bill for every degree you turn your thermostat down. Imagine how quickly that will add up by reducing the temperature in the home by just a small amount.
5. Check the Insulation in the House
One way heat energy is lost from a home is through minor inefficiencies in the house’s insulation. For example, a small crack in the weather-stripping foam around your window can allow cold air to seep in, forcing your furnace to work harder to get its job done. Similarly, a poorly insulated attic can allow heat to radiate outward through the top of the house, dramatically increasing your energy costs.
To ensure that everything remains well insulated, first perform a walk-through of the home and check for any drafts or unusually cold areas. These could be signs that the outside air is seeping into your home. If you notice any areas that are dripping wet, these too could indicate an area where the insulation has been compromised.
Often, you can repair insulation yourself with materials purchased from your local hardware store, such as Great Stuff foam gap filler. If you aren’t sure or if it’s a larger job, such as the insulation in your attic, however, contact a professional.