Maintaining your furnace and water heater not only saves you money but it saves energy. Heating and cooling your home is your largest energy expense and accounts for 49% of your utility bill. Water heaters account for an additional 13% and are the second largest energy expense. So how can you make sure your furnace and water heater are performing at their best?
To keep energy costs down, an annual preseason check up needs to be done. Regular maintenance of your equipment can prevent future problems and costly repairs.
This simple maintenance checklist will help ensure that your furnace and hot water systems are running smoothly and efficiently before the cold weather creeps in.
Tools and Materials
|Filtrete Micro Allergen Air Filters (471115)||Thermwell Products Fiberglass Water Heater Insulation Blanket (417920)|
Step 1. Change Your Furnace Filter. When filters get clogged with dust and other airborne particles, it forces your furnace to work harder. To keep yours running at peak efficiency, check your filter once a month and replace it every three months. Filters such as Filtrete Micro Allergen Air Filters also attract and capture large airborne allergens and microscopic airborne particles, including pollen, smoke and pet dander, improving the quality of your indoor air.
Step 2. Get a Regular Heating System Check Up. Whether you have an electric furnace or a gas furnace, your heating system needs to be checked regularly to make sure your unit is operating at peak efficiency so that you can keep your heating costs down. Regular inspections can also pinpoint trouble spots before they become expensive problems. Call 800-HOMEDEPOT to schedule a professional inspection today (available in most areas).
Step 3. Insulate Your Water Heater. Water-heater blankets provide an extra layer of insulation to help you reduce energy costs by allowing your water heater to warm up faster in between uses. The Thermwell Products Fiberglass Water Heater Insulation Blanket (417920) fits up to a 60-gallon tank and is compatible with both gas water heater and electric hot water heating systems. For a gas water heater, avoid insulating the top. For an electric tank, allow for the opening to slide past the pipes on the top.
Step 4. Flush Your Valves. If you have a gas water heater, sediment collects at the bottom of the tank and needs to be flushed out yearly. To reduce heat transfer from the burner to the water, which wastes energy and money, attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater and snake the hose to a floor drain or outdoors to drain the tank. This may need to be done a few times a year depending on the age of your hot water heating system.
Step 5. Replace Faulty Thermostats. A faulty thermostat or high-temperature cutoff in an electric water heater may be behind that unwelcome cold shower. Since the thermostat and high-temperature cutoff are usually found in one unit, replacing both elements at the same time saves effort and money. Get step-by-step instructions for swapping out your water heater thermostat at The Home Depot.
Step 6. Update Your Heating System. If you're diligent with maintaining your existing equipment, it will prevent future problems and unwanted costs. However, a new water heater has the advantage of being more energy-efficient than the older models.
The age and condition of your furnace could cause it to become less efficient. For example, you may have safety concerns about a hot water furnace or radiator system. If your equipment is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with ENERGY STAR qualified models. A high efficiency furnace can help cut back your energy use by 15%.
Step 7. Update Your Water Heater. A gas hot water heater is expected to last 8–12 years, while an electric model has a lifespan of about 10–15 years. If your unit is older or no longer working as well as it used to, it's time for a new, more energy-efficient one. If your family uses 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, a tankless or "on demand" water heater can be 24%–34% more energy-efficient than a conventional storage-tank water heater. It also has a longer life expectancy, of up to 20 years.
Step 8. How To Choose a New Furnace and Water Heater System. Look for the highest energy factor, or EF, when you shop for a water heater. The most common size is a 40-gallon tank and increases from there (the larger the tank, the lower the rating). The tankless water heaters have a higher EF rating than the tank-type units as they fire up on demand. However, it is important to consider your family's lifestyle. Make a list of things like how many people shower at once and how often the dishwasher is run a week when purchasing a new furnace.