Heating systems are traditionally designed for 5 degree outdoor temperature. When the temperatures drop below zero, you are outside of the design conditions for your system. Even when your heater is working properly, it may not be able to keep your home at the temperature you would like. On top of that, at times of high demand the gas pressure can be reduced to your home. This can also keep you from getting full capacity from your furnace or boiler.
Having a service technician out won’t help this problem, so what can you do?
- Don’t set back your thermostat. If you normally set back your thermostat to save energy, don’t do that during really cold weather. Your furnace is having a hard enough time keeping up to begin with and it just doesn’t have enough extra punch to warm up after being set back. Once the temperatures return to the 20s or 30s you can resume your setback strategy.
- Don’t turn your furnace up to a warmer temperature. I’ve been surprised how many people call in and say they turned their thermostat higher but their furnace or boiler is still not keeping up. The temperature of the air coming out of the furnace does not change, no matter what you have it set at. If the heater is struggling to maintain a certain temperature, turning it higher won’t help.
- Watch your humidity. When it’s chilly in your home, putting a large pot of water on the stove to simmer can add some additional humidity to the air. It doesn’t really make the house warmer, but you will feel more comfortable with higher humidity. But keep an eye on your windows. When temperatures get really cold outside windows can get condensation or frost on the inside. That can damage your windows. If you see this happening in your home turn down your humidifier and avoid adding more humidity to the air.
- Help your furnace/boiler. Open doors as little as possible. Avoid using exhaust fans or fireplaces. Block drafts by closing drapes or putting a rolled towel at the base of a leaky door. In addition to temporary measures like these, consider adding insulation, weather-stripping and caulk to keep the warm air in your home.
- Use space heaters. Safe use of space heaters can help pick up the slack for a heating system that can’t quite keep up. Don’t use your oven as a space heater for your home, but cooking something in the oven can help a bit.
- Keep your furnace maintained. To get the most out of your furnace or boiler you need to keep it maintained. Call for a tune up if you’re due. If you’ve already had a tune up done, check that you have a clean filter in your furnace.
There is still quite a bit of winter left. If you have questions or want more information about what you can do to help keep your home warm, call P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling.
Kim Nemecek works at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. After growing up in Cleveland, she lived in Florida for many years, working at an air conditioning company there. Kim has four grown children, two grandchildren and two spoiled dogs. She lives in Solon with her husband, Todd.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.