We don't just sell equipment, we keep it running at peak efficiency.
Most people only call a heating service repairperson when their heating system breaks down. Yet an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - even with a furnace. The cost of a heating system tune-up varies, but can save 3 to 10 percent on heating costs each heating season.
During the tune-up a service technician should look for two major sources of energy loss in the heating system: incomplete combustion of fuel and high flue gas temperatures. The technician should measure the efficiency of the heating system after the tune-up and provide a copy of the results.
If the combustion gas efficiency is lower than 75% after an inspection, a new heating system may be needed. New system efficiency ratings are typically around 96% and can pay for themselves in energy savings within 10 years.
Combustion Efficiency Testing
- Flue temperature – An excessive flue temperature means too much heat is being produced, thus money is going “up the chimney.”
- Percent carbon dioxide or oxygen – Too little carbon dioxide or oxygen indicates incomplete fuel combustion.
- Smoke number
- Draft – Incorrect airflow limits fuel combustion and uses more energy to move warm air throughout a home.
- Parts Cleaning
A good service technician should take time to clean the following parts of your heating system:
- Combustion chamber
- Heat exchanger surfaces
- Oil line filter
After the initial efficiency test and parts cleaning, the technician should make any final adjustments to the system to keep it running smoothly until the next regular maintenance visit.
The technician should adjust the following:
- Air flow rate
- Fuel flow
- Internal thermostat calibration
Regular heating system check-ups are not only important for efficiency and upkeep, but also for safety. Any fuel-burning appliance that is not maintained properly has the potential to contribute deadly carbon monoxide to a home's air.
Do It Yourself Maintenance
Air Filters – First, check the air filters in your furnace. Dust in the air filters will block airflow and make the unit work harder, increasing heating costs and eventually lead to furnace failure. The filter should be replaced once a month during the heating season. Filters can be found at your local hardware or home store and costs start at about $2 each.
Clean Registers – Next, make sure heat registers are clean and free of foreign objects. To clean the heat registers, first remove their covers. Some register covers are fastened with screws, while others may fit tightly into the floor. For snug register covers, slide a screwdriver head under the edge and gently pry up. Wipe the register with a damp cloth to remove dust and gather any objects that may have fallen through the register onto the top of the duct. Replace the cover; making sure rugs, carpet, drapes and furniture aren’t blocking the register.
Turn it Down – Maintaining the thermostat at 18°C(65ºF) to 20°C(68ºF) in the winter is a home energy-savings step that has no improvement cost and will cut heating bills. Setting the thermostat back only 8ºF for eight hours at night or while at work can save about 8 – 10 percent or about $80 – $100 for every $1000 in heating costs. In a well-insulated home, the drop in temperature may go unnoticed, especially with an energy-efficient automatic thermostat which adjusts temperature settings one or more times each day.
Fan It Out – Often the fan thermostat, which controls the fan that blows warm air throughout the house, is set too high. If set high, a fan comes on too late and shuts off too soon, which lets warm air escape up the flue. Fan thermostat adjustments, which should be performed by a service technician, can cut energy use by 5 – 10 percent.
Shut It Off – Shut off air vents in unused rooms and turn down dampers in the basement to prevent unnecessary heat loss. Most air registers are equipped with a damper that allows the airflow from the vent to be restricted or completely shut off.