By Brittany Natale
The wintertime brings lazy days indoors, holiday hosting, and—you guessed it—freezing temperatures.
One of the most important home maintenance tasks you can do ahead of the winter season is to make sure your heating system is in tiptop shape. And here’s the (sometimes) painful truth: It’s something that most homeowners assume is functioning correctly until it goes on the fritz. Neglecting the ways in which your home stays warm can result in frigid—sometimes dangerous—outcomes.
To help better prepare you for the frosty months ahead, here are some handy home heating tips. From skipping routine maintenance to overlooking the draftiest spots in your home, take heed of these common heating mistakes.
1. Not replacing HVAC air filters is a common heating mistake
One of the simplest things you can do to improve the efficiency of your home’s HVAC system is to switch out old air filters.
“A dirty and clogged filter makes it harder for your heating system to push air through the ventilation system,” says Kevin Huang, founder and CEO of Ambient Home. Besides compromising air quality, this can also slow down the heating process.
Huang suggests changing air filters at least every 90 days. If you are someone who forgets home maintenance tasks, put a reminder on your phone or email calendar.
2. Skipping heater maintenance is a common heating mistake
Home heater maintenance and safety checks should never be put off, even when life gets busy. These appointments, which experts recommend you have done yearly, make all the difference.
Calling in a licensed HVAC technician can help you prevent breakdowns, carbon monoxide poisoning, and even fires.
“A furnace is a controlled fire inside the home,” Steve Stewart, owner of Southern Comfort Mechanical, says. “Having an annual check to ensure there are no carbon monoxide leaks from the furnace or the flue pipe is important.”
3. Ceiling fans spinning counterclockwise is a common heating mistake
To create a cooling downdraft during the summer, your ceiling fan should spin counterclockwise. But did you know that experts recommend you spin your ceiling fan clockwise during the winter to direct the warm air upward and around the room?
“Ceiling fans should be reversed for the winter,” says Stewart. “This, in turn, helps heat the room more evenly and efficiently.”
4. Not checking for drafts is a common heating mistake
The spaces around your doors and windows are notoriously drafty, especially during the winter. So be sure you inspect these areas carefully during the colder months.
To help prevent drafts, Kriss Swint of Westlake Royal Building Products suggests replacing screens with storm windows and repairing damaged sealant. It is also a good idea to caulk any cracks and to clean window tracks of debris that could interfere with seals.
5. Constantly cranking up the temperature is a common heating mistake
When it’s cold outside, it can be tempting to crank up the heat. But you might want to think twice about doing so.
Jennifer Spinelli, founder and CEO of Niche Home Buyer, says doing this can cause more frequent breakdowns of your heating system due to overuse.
“This may seem like a good idea in the short term, but it can also lead to higher energy bills,” Spinelli says. “Instead, set the temperature at a comfortable level you can maintain without constantly having to raise the heat.”
6. Not installing a programmable thermostat is a common heating mistake
Using a programmable thermostat to control the heat in your home is an energy-efficient solution that’ll also save money.
“Programmable thermostats allow you to set different temperatures for different times of day or days of the week,” says Glenn Wiseman, sales manager at Top Hat Home Comfort Services.
Set a lower temperature while you’re away from home or sleeping.
“Programming your thermostat to a lower temperature in the winter will help reduce energy usage and lower your utility bill,” says Wiseman.