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How To Flip the Switch without Breaking the Bank

The “Brrrr Months” have arrived, here’s how you can prepare

As the calendar flips from August to September, thermostats also start to flip from the cool mode to the heat mode. In fact, according to data from Resideo's Honeywell Home smart thermostats gathered during the past two years, this is the week that most Americans and Europeans begin turning on their heat. That shifts a month or two if you're in Arizona, Texas, Spain or elsewhere in the South.

“As meteorological fall begins, we begin to see an increase in the number of homes that switch on their heating during this time period,” says Remya Raghunath, Lead Data Analyst at Resideo. “Not only do we see customers begin to turn on their heat, historically customers also use the change in season to update their heating controls, and upgrade to smart thermostats.”

After a summer hiatus, heating systems fire up to keep your home comfortable during the Brrrr months (September, October, November, December and January-brrr!). And this year, with millions of families working or schooling from their homes, residential heating systems will be in overdrive.

Just as you wouldn't go on a long road trip without checking out your car first, winter is a long road trip for your furnace, or heating system.

Josh Huck from Williams Comfort Air located in Carmel, Ind., sees many issues that could have been solved with preventative heating system maintenance. “The cold winter months can really put your home comfort system to work,” Huck said. “Before the start of heating season we recommend having your furnace maintained by a professional licensed contractor. This will ensure your system operates efficiently and keeps your family comfortable and safe. Dirty furnace filters can cause your furnace to stop working on the coldest of days. We recommend changing the filter prior to the heating season while checking in on it monthly. Lastly, make sure to have your humidifier tested and serviced to ensure it will work properly all winter long without any unnecessary leaks or downtime. So many problems during heating season can be avoided with proper preventative maintenance,” Huck continued.

Following are simple tips you can use before the weather turns cool, which could help save yourself some frustration, discomfort and money.

  • Schedule a preventative heating season tune-up appointment
    You've probably already gotten several emails from them – HVAC contractors typically offer special deals and contactless inspections prior to winter. Go ahead and give them a call, and ask if they will check the heat exchanger for damage/cracks as well. It only takes a quick visual inspection and can save you from a cold home.
     
  • Change your filter
    Your HVAC air filter should be changed regularly, according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Doing so can help your heating system run better and longer and help improve the quality of the air in your home. Changing out a $20 filter is easy compared to a $300-$500 fan motor. Keep in mind that not all filters are created equal, and more information on selecting the right filter for you is available here.
     
  • Turn on the fan
    Feel for good air flow and listen for any unusual noises – such as squeaks, slams or slamming, or grinding. Contact a professional if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
     
  • Turn on the heat
    Before it becomes a priority, turn on your heat and let it run for 15 to 20 minutes and ensure normal operation. If your heat shuts off before meeting the set temperature, you may need a contractor to diagnose and resolve the problem. A slight odor is common when turning on your heating system for the first time in the fall – turning on your heat early gives you a chance to open the windows to clear the smell. If the odor persists, call a contractor immediately.

    Furnaces typically have an error indicator light on the front cover. Typically, a slow pulsing light flash indicates the system is running normally. If you see fast flashing, or a series of fast flashes, your furnace may need service.
     
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  • 5. Check your thermostat schedule
    If you are using a thermostat with a schedule, check to ensure it meets your needs during winter. Today's modern thermostats are simple to program so it may make sense to tweak your settings slightly. To maximize savings, it's recommended to keep your home slightly cooler in the winter so your heating system doesn't have to run as often. Even setting it 1 or 2 degrees cooler than you typically keep it in the winter can add a huge savings.
     
  • 6. Adjust your air vents In the summer, homeowners typically close air vents downstairs and open the vents upstairs. In the winter, we need to open the vents downstairs and close the vents upstairs, so the warm air naturally rises. If you get a room that's getting too hot or cold, you can always adjust the vents before you crank up the thermostat – or consider a thermostat with room sensors.
     
  • 7. Check your humidifier pad
    Some systems come with a whole-home humidification system, which typically aren't used in the summers months so now is the right time to check or replace the humidifier pad. Maintaining a balanced humidity level helps prevents static shocks, cracked skin, snoring, and even against getting sick. For more on how to clean the air, click here.
     
  • 8. Upgrade your thermostat
  • While it’s important to tune up your heating system behind the wall, some of the biggest savings can come from putting a new, smarter thermostat on the wall. A simple upgrade can bring big savings. From learning how to heat your home more efficiently to using a schedule, a smart thermostat can efficiently deliver comfort when you’re home and energy savings when you're away. What’s more, the devices can be installed quickly and simply so you can have smarter controls in no time. Take a look at our Honeywell Home smart thermostats and make the change before winter.

As you'll see, there are many instances where you may need a professionals' help. To find a HVAC professional near you, visit Resideo.com. For additional tips to maintain your appliances this fall, click here.