Did you recently schedule a pre-season heating system check-up? Make the most of this HVAC service and go into the appointment ready with a list of questions. If you're not sure what to ask the contractor, take a look at the top furnace, heating system, and maintenance topics to cover.
What Type of Filter Is the Right Option?
A forced air heater relies on a filter to stop particles and pollutants. Without the right filter, your system may not trap allergens, dust, pet fur, or other debris. The specific filter your heater needs depends on your heater, your home, and how you plan to use the ventilation part of the HVAC system.
Filters have MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) numbers that range from one to 20. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a one through four MERV rating means that the filter can trap 20 percent of particles 3.0 to 10.0 microns in size. This means a one, two, three, or four MERV filter will only stop larger pollutants. In comparison, a 16 filter can trap 95 percent of 0.30 to 1.0 micron particles. High-efficiency particulate air (or HEPA) filters can stop 99.97 percent of 0.3 micron particles.
The HVAC technician should check your system's air filter and either clean or replace it. Some heaters have a reusable filter. If your system has this type of filter and you aren't sure how to care for it or when to clean it, ask the technician to provide you with instructions. You will need to clean this filter before your next pre-season check-up. A clean filter can help improve indoor air quality, reduce wear and tear on your system, and increase your heater's energy efficiency.
If you have a replaceable filter, the technician can help you to decide on an appropriate MERV rating option.
Are There Ways to Increase the Heater's Energy Efficiency?
Not only does an efficient heater help the environment, but it can also create a more comfortable indoor environment and reduce your utility costs. Gather the past few years worth of heating fuel bills to help track the amount of energy your system uses. A heater will typically use more energy (fuel) in the colder months. But if you notice a sudden unexplained spike or a gradual increase in energy usage from year to year, talk to a heating technician about ways to reduce your costs.
The technician may recommend that you increase your regular maintenance schedule, replace your filter, replace your thermostat, set your heater to a different temperature, add insulation to your home, or replace the system.
System replacement isn't the first choice option to control energy efficiency. But if the heater is old, has clear signs of wear, doesn't heat your home evenly, requires constant repairs, or costs you excessive utility bills, talk to a technician about an upgrade.