Turn off the A/C
We do not recommend completely covering the condensing unit because it can create condensation, which corrodes parts. It also creates a cozy environment for small critters to escape winter and they will chew wires, effectively disabling your unit for use when the warm weather comes. If a lot of leaves fall in the vicinity, a board on top of the unit is a good idea.
If you have central air, turn off the power at the outdoor disconnect box and/or at the electrical panel.
Furnace Maintenance & Inspection
Start your furnace early in the season; don’t wait until the cold weather arrives. This way if you discover a problem, it can be repaired before you have to suffer through a brutally cold night with no heat. It’s also a good idea to check your filter; a clean filter ensures maximum efficiency.
Have a certified HVAC professional clean and inspect your furnace annually to ensure safe and efficient operation. If you have a newer furnace, annual maintenance is still necessary to protect your warranty.
Once the furnace is put on heat mode, if you have a humidifier, be sure it is changed to the fall/winter position and the humidity level is set appropriately. Check the pad/filter as well, on average they should be changed every 1-2 years.
Keep the area around the furnace clear so that the air supply is not blocked and make sure there are no combustible materials near the furnace.
Pay Attention to Your Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is one of the best ways to save on your energy bill. You can choose the times and temperature that best suits your family. The key is to establish a regular program that automatically reduces your heating at those times when you don’t need it as much (e.g. at night, while you’re at work or on vacation).
According to the Ontario Ministry of Energy, for every degree you turn down your thermostat*, you’ll save up to 3% on heating costs. When you’re awake, put on a sweater, it will warm up your body temperature and save you money on heating.
* It is possible to set your temperature too low in our climate, don’t go lower than 16°C (61°F) or your plumbing may start to freeze. Turning the thermostat down too far could also result in more energy being used to reheat the house than you might have saved.
Improve Air Circulation
Keep curtains and furniture from blocking your heating vents. Vacuuming dust and pet hair out of your registers and cold air returns will help air to flow freely and prevents that dust from being blown into the room. Ensure that the dampers in your registers are open. If you’ve recently done renovations, it would be a good idea to invest in duct cleaning to ensure that you don’t have obstructed airflow.
Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer use; they can be useful in the fall to aid circulation. Reverse the direction of the blades to clockwise – air pooled is circulated back into the living space, again saving on your energy bill.
Check for Drafts
According to Hydro One, up to 40% of home heat loss in fall/winter is due to air leakage, and if you added up all the cracks and leaks in the average Canadian home it would be like having a hole in your wall the size of a basketball! How to check:
- Run the back of your hand around the framing of your windows and exterior doors. Feel for any cold breeze, and listen for any whooshing or whistling sounds of air coming through cracks. Place your hand in front of electrical outlets on exterior walls to check for any drafts that may result from a lack of insulation.
- Light a candle and hold it 2 inches from the windows and exterior doors. Position it at various points around the windows and door frames and look for any flickering from drafts.
- Close the curtains and turn off the interior lighting. Make it as dark as possible inside while it’s sunny outdoors. Make note of any sunlight that’s coming through where the door meets the jamb and threshold.
- Install weather stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering your home and caulk windows. Replace any cracked window glass and switch out summer screens with glass.
Don’t Forget the Water Heater
It’s a good idea to check the temperature setting on your water heater – “normal” is 120°F (the factory default is usually 140°F). If your tank is set too hot, you are wasting energy by heating the water to an unnecessarily high temperature. On gas water heaters , the dial is on the outside of the tank and is very easy to adjust.