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As temperatures drop, make sure your home heating system is safe, efficient

10/4/2016 9:12:00 AM

As temperatures in Minnesota begin to drop, now is the time to make sure your heating system is working properly. Furnaces and boilers, the two most common ways to heat homes, should be inspected and adjusted every year.

ENERGY STAR®, the government-backed program that helps consumers conserve energy and save money with energy-efficient products and practices, says dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating system inefficiency and failure.

The Minnesota Commerce Department suggests the following measures to improve the efficiency and safety of your home heating system:

  • Change your furnace filter regularly. Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months. If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder, wasting energy.
  • Tune up your heating and cooling equipment yearly. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve gas mileage, an annual tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Schedule a tune-up now before the peak heating season arrives and before heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) professionals get too busy. Check out ENERGY STAR’s Maintain your Equipment: A Checklist and Ten Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor.
  • Install a programmable or smart thermostat. Both thermostats are excellent for people who are regularly away from home during the week or for long periods of time. They allow users to change the temperature of the home based on the time of day and whether they are at home or asleep.
  • Seal your heating and cooling ducts. Ducts that move air to and from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by 20 percent or more.
  • Consider installing ENERGY STAR-qualified heating and cooling equipment. If your equipment is not performing efficiently or is old and needs upgrading, have it evaluated by a heating and cooling contractor and consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label.

For more information, see ENERGY STAR’s Guide to Energy Efficient Heating & Cooling (pdf). Also, check out the Home Heating and Home Cooling sections of the Home Energy Guide (.pdf), a publication of the Minnesota Commerce Department.

Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the department's Energy Information Center at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

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