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Prepare your home now for the winter heating season

9/4/2018 12:06:34 PM

Now is the time to make sure your home heating system is working properly—before cold weather starts to hit and heating technicians are all booked up with work.

ENERGY STAR®, the official program that certifies energy-efficient products and practices, says dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating system inefficiency and failure. Furnaces and boilers, the two most common ways to heat homes, should be inspected and adjusted on an annual basis.

The Minnesota Commerce Department and ENERGY STAR offer these tips to prepare for winter by ensuring the efficiency and safety of your home heating system:

  • Change your furnace filter regularly. Check your filter every month, especially during times of heavy use. 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 equipment yearly. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve gas mileage, an annual tune-up of your heating system can improve efficiency and comfort. Schedule a tune-up now before the peak heating season arrives. Check out ENERGY STAR’s Maintenance Checklist and Ten Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor
  • Install a programmable or smart thermostat. Both thermostats are helpful 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 equipment. If your heating system is not performing efficiently or is old and needs upgrading, have it evaluated by an HVAC contractor and consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. It is better to plan ahead to replace an old furnace or boiler instead of waiting for it to fail in mid-winter. 

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, a Minnesota Commerce Department publication.

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


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