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Home Care Library

Furnace Tips for Efficiency & Safety

The cost of heating your home can be up to one-third of your home's energy bill, and your furnace or boiler can also pose a significant safety risk. This article and video gives you 21 tips for your furnace or boiler, that can help you to:
  • save money

  • improve safety

  • extend useful life


  1. Have an annual inspection done.

     Each year you should have a professional service person conduct a thorough cleaning, inspection, and adjustment of your furnace. This is critical for ensuring the safety and energy efficiency of your furnace or boiler.
  2. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace or boiler,

     so this can alert you to the presence of deadly CO gas from improper combustion or flue gas leaks (see types, costs, and reviews of CO alarms).
  3. Install ducting to bring outside air directly into the burner,

     if your furnace or boiler is fired by oil, gas or propane. Ducting in outside air will allow your furnace to burn cold air from the outside, instead of warm air from inside your house.
  4. Upgrade to a more energy-efficient furnace or boiler.

     If you have an older unit, the energy savings and potential rebates can often pay for the cost of the new furnace in just a few years.
  5. Keep your furnace room clean and uncluttered,

     especially near the burner area. This helps to minimize dust and dirt intake into the burner, and it also reduces the risk of fire in your furnace room.
  6. Ensure adequate air for combustion.

     If your burner is starved for air, it will operate both inefficiently and unsafely.
  7. If gas-fired, keep your pilot light burning all year long,

     as this will help reduce condensation in the system that leads to corrosion.
  8. Do not keep any flammable liquids or materials in your furnace or boiler room,

     as these can create a fire hazard.

  9. Upgrade your furnace to a heat pump or a geothermal heat pump,

     as either of these are more energy efficient than a traditional furnace or boiler.
  10. Use a space heater to heat an area of a single room,

     rather than running your central heating. For a heating a small area, a space heater can be more efficient (see types, costs, and reviews of space heaters).
  11. Test your heating system early in the fall

     well before the heating season, to be sure it is ready for winter use if it needs any extensive work, and also before service providers get busy.
  12. Try adjusting your thermostat down by a couple of degrees and dressing a little warmer.

     Each degree raised over 68 degrees can save up to 3 percent on your heating bill (see types, costs, and reviews of smart thermostats).

  13. Don't set your thermostat at a higher setting than normal when you first turn on your heating system,

    & as it will not heat up your home any faster, and may result in excessive heating.

  14. If you hear anything unusual with your heating system, get in touch with your service professional right away,

     so you can catch problems early, before they become serious.

  15. Lower the temperature on your thermostat by 10 degrees when no one is home,

     as this will save you money for heat that you don't need while gone.

  16. Make sure that your thermostat is not being hit by direct sunlight or any other heat source,

     such as a heat register, lamp, television, etc., as this can fool your thermostat into turning off and on at the wrong times.

  17. Close doors to rooms on outside walls without thermostats that aren't being used,

     as this will help reduce heat losses to these unused rooms

  18. Check that your thermostats are mounted level horizontally.

     On some models if they are not level, then they do not perform properly.
  19. Clean your thermostats regularly.

     Remove your thermostat cover and vacuum any dust build-up, and clean switch contacts using a Q-tip dipped in alcohol.
  20. Check the temperature calibration of your thermostat, and adjust it if necessary.

     A thermostat that is not calibrated properly will turn on and off at the wrong times.

  21. And finally, install a programmable or “smart” web-enabled thermostat.

     These types of thermostats can save you money on energy by automatically changing your temperature settings for the times that you are typically away from the house, sleeping, etc.



We hope these 21 operating tips will help you to save money on the largest consumer of energy in your home, and that they will also help you to improve the safety of your furnace or boiler. 

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