It might have seemed like we were diving head first into the warm season but today and this weekend’s weather just goes to show you can never let your guard down when it comes to central Texas weather. That’s Austin for you. Heating in Austin is a big deal for most of us. We don’t like being cold. So when we start getting used to the mild spring weather weeks before spring technically starts and then all of the sudden a cold front blows through it can be disorienting. Many of you may have found yourself turning your heaters back on in the past few days. If so, you might be wondering what you can do to get through such a cold front as successfully as possible, from an HVAC and energy using perspective.
That's what this tip of the day will be dedicated to, little tips that will help you stay comfortable and warm during a cold front without running your energy bills too high or risking too much wear and tear to your HVAC system. We’ll go over some things you can do to heat up and stay warm better, smarter, and more efficiency in this last cold period before the inevitable brunt of spring.
Change Your Furnace Filter
Your furnace is the source of heat in your home. It’s what keeps you warm when no blanket or sweater alone can do the trick. It does so by blowing warmed air throughout your house suing the same air ducts as your air conditioner. And during this process, a lot of stuff besides air gets blown around too. This includes things like dust, pollen, mold spores, and other contaminants. These contaminants when left unchecked can do two things, make your air more unhealthy to create and get up into the inner workings of your furnace and slowly start to wear it down.
What prevents this is one little piece of equipment, the furnace filter. The furnace filter hangs out in the return register of the air ducts and catches undesired particles in the air as they circulate. But it can only do this job so much before it starts to become clogged with these particles. THat’s when it needs to be replaced.One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your Austin heating system running as efficiently as possible is to change the air filter on a regular basis. Besides ensuring a comfortable environment inside of your home, clean air filters reduce energy bills and keep allergens to a minimum.
So make sure you change your furnace filter once every month or two, depending on the instructions of the manufacturer. Changing the filter when a cold front starts is a great way to remember to do so and ensure the extra work your heater is getting isn’t costing it any unneeded damage.
Fire It Up
If you’re looking for ways to find a happy medium between keeping warm during this unexpected cold front while using your central Austin heating system as little as possible then don’t forget about the original human heating method, fire. If you have a fireplace, days like this are the perfect time to put it to use. It’s no so cold that you need to crank the heat but it’s cold enough that a nice fire in the living room can be just right for the situation.
If you have a fireplace, use it, but make sure that it has been inspected and cleaned within the last year. You can inspect it yourself too, but make sure you’re thorough. That means making sure that flue damper is working properly by testing to see if it opens, closes, and seals. You’ll also want to check the damper. While the damper is fully open, use a flashlight and mirror to inspect the flue for a buildup of soot and creosote, as well as any animal remnants or other foreign objects. Also, do a rough visual inspection, inside and out, to determine if there are is any damage that could pose a problem.
When the fireplace is in use, the damper should always be fully open. Do not close the damper until the fire is fully out and there are no embers left. Leaving the damper open when the fireplace is not in use is like having a large window open in your house. You can save up to 30% on your home heating costs by making sure that air isn’t escaping up your chimney. If your damper doesn’t fit properly, consider replacing it. You don’t want to put the damper on idyllic evenings spent in front of crackling logs altogether, so when you do have a fire, just be sure to buy/use a glass front for your fireplace, which keeps some of that heated air in your home from escaping up the chimney once the flames have gone out.
Utilize the Sun
While man-made fires are a great cheap way to bring some heat into the home without running up the energy bills, there is actually one more source of heat that is even cheaper and easier to access, the sun itself. Make sure you’re using this completely free and conveniently delivered source of heat to its fullest extent if you’re trying to get through this cold front as cheaply as possible.
While sunlight falling into the house may do little to offset extreme winter temperatures, it can make a significant difference during times of more mild cold like this week. Once the sun is up, you want to capture as much of that free heat as possible. Even on cold days, the sun is still warm. So before you leave the house for the day, open up those curtains and let the light shine in. If there are certain parts of the house that don’t get sunlight, no need to open those curtains. Just do so where it streams in for a good part of the day.
Make sure you do the opposite though once the sun goes down. Once the sun goes down, keep all that heat from leaving through the windows by closing the drapes. If you’re in a particularly cold home, consider getting insulated curtains. They’ll prevent some of the warmth in your home from escaping. You can even put up temporary curtains (or even sheets, rugs, etc.) over doors to the outside, even if just at night while you’re sleeping.
Get Creative and Warm
Using your furnace and fireplace and keeping windows open may seem like obvious ways to keep warm during a cold front, and they are, but there are other ways you can mitigate the effects of the cold that might be slightly less obvious and are perfect for these temporary cold times.
Firstly, the warmer your body is, the less warm the rest of your house has to be. In other words, instead of cranking up the heat and warming every inch of your home, try first making yourself as warm as possible with the things you wear. That means you won’t have to have the heater running as much which will save it wear and tear and save you in energy costs. Use Snuggies, robes, wool socks, sweaters, sweatpants, onesies, pajamas, and other warm items to wrap yourself up in. Winter clothing is essential for keeping home heating costs down. In the bedroom, use a thick duvet cover and warm the insides with a hot water bottle.
You can also maximize the effects of the heater by using your doors efficiently. That’s right, your doors. If you spend a lot of time in certain rooms, you can close doors and create a little sauna. Simply leave the door closed at night, let the heat run like normal, and since there aren’t as many gaps for heat to escape, it’s nice and warm in the morning.
You can also close doors to rooms that aren’t frequently used in your home, just make sure you also close the vents in those rooms. This sort of acts to lower the heated square footage, and the warm air will spread quicker and easier through the house. As a bonus, this will save a little bit on your heating bill, too.
It may seem counter intuitive, but your ceiling fans actually might be found useful during a cold front as well. If you have ceiling fans in your home, they may be sitting needlessly dormant during the winter months. Many fans have a “winter” setting, which reverses the fan so that it moves clockwise vs. counterclockwise. Since heat rises, the clockwise-spinning fan will push the heat back down into your rooms versus being trapped up at the ceilings. This is especially recommended if you have high or sloped ceilings. Don’t turn it on high because it will make you cold! Just try it out on a low speed, and see if it warms the room. It definitely works.
Staying Warm and Heating Repair in Austin
A cold front doesn’t have to cause need for alarm in Austin. Heating is a task that affords a lot of options, and many of those can help you cut down on energy costs while still remaining warm and toasty in your home. Consider some of the tips above for ideas on how to stay warm today and before the spring warm weather hits us full force as it is bound to soon.
If you’re in need of heater repair in Austin, don’t fret, call AC Express. AC Express is an Austin heater repair company that operates all across the Austin area, from Georgetown and Pflugerville to Manor and Lago Vista. For the best Austin heating service around, call AC Express today!