We may be experiencing a fairly mild winter right now in Austin but anyone who knows Texas knows that could change at any moment. One of the keys to happy wintertime is a comfortable home heating system. Whether you enjoy the cold or not, everyone wants to be warm and cozy when they’re spending their downtime at home. Blankets and hot cocoa are wonderful add-ons to the home relaxation experience in the wintertime but it all starts with a well-oiled and exemplary heating system.
Not all home heating experiences are the same though. Just having a furnace, heat pump, or boiler doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to be as satisfied as can be with the air in your home. There are a lot of factors that go into the experience of a comfortable home and many of those factors you have control over, maybe more than you thought. That’s what this tip of the day is about. We’re going to take a look at some tips for a more comfortable home through the better use of your heating system. Everything from the thermostat to the ducts and more will be considered briefly in this overview of home comfort improvement.
Tip #1: Dusting and Cleaning
Our first tip involves improving the air quality of your home space. The idea of comfort has many variables, one of them being how clean the air you’re breathing is. The cleaner and purer the air, the easier it is to breathe, the less irritation in your sinuses, and the fewer allergy symptoms you’ll have. One of the easiest ways to permanently improve the air quality in your home is to make a habit of dusting your home and cleaning the components of your heater that meet the air in your home.
This means dusting and wiping down all the solid surfaces in your home, from cabinets and coffee tables to drawers and hardwood floors. You also want to vacuum your floors and carpeted areas on a regular basis. And don’t forget to vacuum those drapes as well. All of these things are going to accumulate dust and other particles which will be thrown around into the air every time the furnace switches on and starts circulating air around you.
Clean and wipe down all the components of the heating system you have, regardless of its type. That means cleaning the baseboard heaters, radiators, and air vents depending on what is applicable to you. Do all this and you should have healthy air that’s easier on the lungs and less allergy-prone.
Tip #2: Fine Tune Your Thermostat
There are two components to this tip. The first one everyone can do today without spending a cent. That is to dial in the right thermostat setting for you. It’s difficult to recommend an ideal thermostat setting for the winter because everyone’s comfort preferences are a little different but some guidelines have been suggested which may act as a good starting point.
In the winter, you can save energy and keep your costs in check by keeping your thermostat a little lower than usual but still high enough to be comfortable. Try starting at 68 degrees Fahrenheit while you are at home during the daytime. Depending on your family's personal comfort preferences, one idea you may consider is lowering the thermostat at night while you sleep. Many people find it comfortable to sleep in a cooler environment while using winter blankets to regulate warmth. It's important to note that indoor humidity plays a role in the comfort of the air in your home.
Energy.gov reports that turning your thermostat lower by 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours per day will help you see an energy usage reduction of 5 to 15 percent per year on your bill. This can make a big difference in your energy bill but it isn’t exactly practical advice for most people with a regular thermostat. That’s why the second part of this tip is to consider getting a programmable thermostat. Energy efficiency should be at the forefront when using your heating and cooling units during peak times of the year. According to Energy Star, “proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.” This alone should make you more comfortable with heating and cooling in your home. A programmable thermostat will allow you to take full control over the heating in your home regardless of the time of day.
Tip #4: Be Mindful of Furniture and Curtains
One of the most important factors in whether the air in your home is comfortable is if there is adequate circulation. This means that all the air in your home is moving around and the heat is spreading evenly throughout the house. The best way to ensure this is to make sure all of the vents in your home are open and unobstructed. Some people erroneously believe that by closing vents in rooms they aren’t using they are saving energy by warming up only the rooms they are using. The truth of the matter is that your furnace is using the same amount of power regardless of the status of the vents. Closing some of the vents just wastes some of the air that headed down that duct and causes poor circulation in the home.
So keep all of your vents open and make sure there isn’t any furniture or rugs covering any. Sometimes floor vents are particularly easy to forget and accidentally block with a new couch or rug. This has the same effect as closing the vent and will cause uneven heating.
The second part of this tip is to use your curtains and drapes effectively to increase comfort. When it’s daytime and it is sunny outside you’ll want to keep your curtains and drapes open. This will let the sunlight in and will in turn provide you with free heating from the biggest source of heat in our solar system. This means the heater will have to work less hard and you’ll get the added effect of the comfort of the sun’s natural warmth.
When it’s overcast out or nighttime you’ll want to do the opposite. Keep all of those curtains and drapes closed. This will work as a small bonus to the insulation in the house and help keep the warm air that your heater provides trapped in the house at night.
Tip #5: Keep the Air Filter Clean
Regular maintenance on your heating system is necessary for a comfortable winter. Some of the maintenance is included in your annual maintenance check with an Austin heating professional but some of it must be done more often and can be done yourself. The biggest task in this regard is keeping your air filter clean. That means cleaning it if it is a reusable air filter or replacing it if it isn’t.
The easiest way to ensure your system operates efficiently and economically is by keeping the air filter clean. Your filters get dirty over time and usage. It is important to clean or replace them often. Once a month is sometimes suggested or change your air filters according to your manufacturer's recommendations.
Dirty filters can block some of the heat and air that reaches inside your home. This will increase your heating and cooling costs, make the system work harder, and interfere with your comfort. Changing your filters will also help with your indoor air quality. There are several types of air filters and several possible locations for the air filter. Ask your service technician next time he’s out at your home to show you where your air filter is located and which type of filter to use. If you have allergies, you should look at a pleated allergy filter or a media or an electronic-style air cleaner.
Tip #6: Improve the Humidity
During the summers here in Austin, we get plenty of humidity. So much in fact that many people find getting a dehumidifier worthwhile for the benefits to their air quality and so their air conditioners don’t have to work as hard. But even here in the middle of Texas, the drop in temperature that accompanies winter sucks the moisture right out of the air. Decreased moisture has a host of negative side effects ranging from increasing your chances of getting a cold or sinus infection—dry respiratory tissue is more susceptible to irritation and infection—to the paint and woodwork in your home cracking from lack of moisture.
That’s where humidifiers come in. This investment in your home might just have a bigger impact on your indoor air quality and comfort level than you would’ve believed. You can do this without any new device as well though the results won’t be as dramatic. Adding moisture to the air is as simple as placing a vessel of water on top of, or next to, a radiator (or other air heating system). Leaving wet towels and clothes out to dry are other ways to introduce moisture into the air.
This is a very low-tech and low power method, however, the strength and humidity controls are limited, and available moisture is dependent on the size of the vessel used, and must be frequently refilled. More effective are stand-alone and whole-house humidifiers that mechanically inject moisturized air into individual rooms and the entire heating system of a home, respectively. This will allow you to dial in just the perfect amount of humidity in your home. This will make the air more comfortable, easier on your furniture, easier on your lungs, and your heater won’t have to work as hard.
Home Comfort and Heating Repair in Austin
Everyone wants a comfortable home. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to improve the comfort of your home and your experience of heating in Austin. There are many factors involved in comfort level, from humidity and temperature to air quality and ventilation. All of these things can be tweaked and controlled with the right know-how. Perhaps some of these tips will help you do so.
And don’t forget that if you ever need any kind of heater repair in Austin, AC Express is the place to call. AC Express is an Austin heater repair company capable of solving any heating relating issue. We operate throughout the Austin greater area, from Cedar Park and Georgetown to Taylor and Leander. If you’re looking for the best Austin heating service around, call today!