As the winter months set in, getting cozy in a warm home is what most people look forward to. Even if you have a decent central air or heating system installed, your home’s heating comfort potential may not be as high as you thought. When was the last time you checked for leaks? How much electricity or fuel are you using? As you ask these questions and check your home, here are a few details to help you understand what it takes to maintain a comfortable, efficient heating system in the winter.

Is Your Home Properly Sealed?

In order to heat (or even cool) efficiently, a home needs to be well-sealed. This means covering up as many cracks, gaps, holes or other openings that can’t be sealed as easily as opening or closing a door or window.

This doesn’t mean your home needs to become a sealed-off laboratory or hermetically sealed container — although you could make that happen with remodeling and the right materials. You just need to get rid of any gaps that allow outside air to critically interfere with inside air.

What does critically interfere mean? The rate varies, but as a consumer, it means enough to make your heating system work too hard. Heating systems will need to operate for longer amounts of time to keep and maintain your desired heat.

A seated, well-insulated home can keep heat trapped, meaning that your heat pump, furnace or other heating system doesn’t need to stay on all day and night. Without a proper seal or with damaged insulation, outside temperatures can force your heating system to struggle while demanding more electricity or fuel.

For most people, this means a higher electrical bill or going through fuel faster. For low-income or limited resource households, it means a cold winter can creep in faster. If you live in areas such as Oak Harbor, WA, you may be dealing with electrical and natural gas rates that become overwhelming quickly without proper heat system management.

The solution is simple; get an HVAC team to inspect your home and heating system to make sure that you’re getting and keeping the heat that you’re paying for.

What’s Your Heating Fuel?

All heating and cooling systems need proper ventilation. Carbon monoxide poisoning can sneak up on people fairly quickly, and there other dangerous gasses that can build up without a good duct system. Some HVAC systems have bigger ventilation issues than others. Solid and liquid fuel furnaces and fireplaces, for example, can lead to slow suffocation, at worst, or wall-dirtying soot, at best.

If you’re using a wood-burning fireplace, regular chimney maintenance is key. You’ll need to do more than just remove ashes and clean up the hearth; the chimney stack or another ventilation path will need soot cleaned away from the inside of the stack.

If you’re using a liquid fuel system such as an artificial fireplace or a propane heater, where is your ventilation? Free-standing heaters give off not just carbon dioxide, but nitrogen dioxide and excess vapor from burning the specific fuel.

Oak Harbor’s IAQ Experts

The vapor can fill up the home and lead to long-term health risks. Although every risk is different, the most basic problem is the same: restricted air quality.
If you need help with choosing a heating system, properly sealing your home, or figuring out what to do about insulation, contact a professional HVAC team such as Island Heating and Air Conditioning.

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January 21, 2019 9:14 pm