No matter which weather service we check, the news is always the same: winter here in Ontario is gearing up to be one for the record books!
Snow, ice, sleet, rain – we are primed to have it all this winter, and some of the impact has already been felt in the winter storms and cold we’ve experienced in some areas.
Some forecasters, who clearly have an odd sense of humor, are even calling this a “classic” Canadian winter, but in all honesty, they wouldn’t be wrong.
When winter forecasts like this come rolling in, we know it is time to remind our customers of the damage that can occur with improper heat management in your home or workplace.
In this timely preparatory post, learn why you don’t want to turn off your furnace this winter season!
Your Water Pipes Need Heat, Too
If there is one fear all Canadian homeowners share in common, it is the threat of frozen, burst winter water pipes.
Water pipes need a consistent heat source to keep from freezing.
The average cost of a burst water pipe in North America ranges from $1,000 to $4,000-plus, with an average cost of just under $2,700. Any way you slice it, that is a heck of a lot more than it will cost you to keep your furnace running so your water pipes stay toasty warm.
Safety Note: Even furnace-generated heat may not always be enough to protect every pipe in your structure from freeze/burst threats. Pipes exposed to the outdoors (especially those connected to hoses), basement or crawl space pipes, attic pipes and garage pipes also need protection. Insulation is a great option here if installing small space heaters isn’t feasible.
Mould and Mildew Love Cool Damp Places
There is a big difference between the inviting warmth of furnace heat and the cool damp of indoor spaces that may never freeze but also never really warm up.
Here, think drywall, ductwork, floorboards, basement, crawl space, attic, garage and other areas that are often forgotten in the decision to switch off the home’s main heat source.
These ancillary spaces remain in a perpetual state of readiness to welcome any mould or mildew spore that happens along and settles down to colonize.
A surprising number of mould remediation projects originate during the winter season when homeowners forget about the beneficial mould-repelling effect of a dry, warm home.
Furnace Wear and Tear Adds Up Quickly
Making the decision to switch off your furnace for any extended period of time can be a costly choice in a number of ways, only one of which is financial.
One aspect of furnace use that many homeowners are often unclear about is the difference in wear and tear between shutting off the furnace outright and then turning it back on or simply lowering the temperature and raising it again.
If there is more than a five-degree temperature difference between the actual room temperature and the temperature you want the room to be, your furnace will, in fact, work harder to warm up the room.
If there is less than a five-degree temperature difference, your furnace will not incur any extra wear and tear when it cycles on again.
This is why the Department of Energy advocates for using a programmable thermostat to control home heating rather than trying to turn the furnace off and on to achieve the same effect.
An optimal thermostat temperature for times when the home is empty or everyone is asleep is around 20°C (68°F). If you like your home slightly warmer or cooler than this, just make sure the temperature variance between periods never gets greater than five degrees overall to avoid losses in heating efficiency.
Your Budget Won’t Thank You In the End
Another reason you want to use a programmable thermostat rather than turning your furnace off and on to control heat and costs is that your furnace itself needs to warm up before it will hit its peak operating efficiency.
Just as you want to warm up an icy cold car engine before gunning it and racing down the road, so too do you want to make sure your furnace components stay warm enough to function efficiently without risk of drawing more energy to do the same work.
This is also why it is so vital to match the output (size) of the furnace to the size of the space to be heated.
The trend in past decades to install more furnace than the space needed ended up being a very costly decision for many homeowners because the warm-up phase for an enormous furnace is always going to take longer than this same phase for an appropriately sized furnace.
As well, if you have ever turned off your furnace completely and gone away, and then returned and turned it on again, you have probably noticed how the first blasts of air coming out of it were icy cold. This is because the air left in the ductwork after the last completed cycle will have cooled down completely.
Your furnace now has to push all that cold air out of the ducts even as it is warming up to reheat your home. So you stand there and shiver while you wait for your furnace to get to a place where it can exhaust old, cold air and warm up enough to heat new, warm air to heat you and your home.
Meanwhile, you can almost hear the dollars flying out of your wallet as your furnace pulls more energy revving its engines (so to speak) to prepare to reheat your home.
Get in Touch
Is it time to give your hard-working furnace some timely preventative maintenance to boost efficiency and lower your winter heating bills? Give us a call!