Heating and cooling costs are usually the biggest part of your energy bill, accounting for up to 2/3 of your home’s energy expense. Knowing the type of heating and cooling system you have, how it works, and how to properly maintain it will help you get the most efficiency from your system.
How a Heat Pump System Works
A heat pump uses a refrigerant (such as Freon) to transfer heat from one location to another. In the winter, heat is extracted from the outdoor air and used to heat the home. In the summer, the cycle is reversed: heat is extracted from the indoor air to cool the home.
To properly maintain the system and keep your energy costs to a minimum, here are a few helpful hints:
How Gas & Oil Systems Operate
Gas and oil systems generate heat from a furnace or boiler
A furnace heats air and blows it through ducts and registers in the home
A boiler heats water and circulates it through pipes to radiators or baseboards
Gas & Oil System Maintenance
As with any other system, a gas or oil system must be properly maintained. Here are some tips:
- Keep radiators or convectors clean. This applies to hot water, steam, or electric baseboard systems.
- Replace or clean the filter on a forced-air system (furnace) at least once a month.
- Check flue and chimney for possible obstruction and have cleaned, if necessary. This step is especially important in order to keep pollutants from contaminating the indoor air.
- Have oil furnaces serviced once a year by a trained service technician.
- Have gas furnaces serviced every 2 years by a trained service technician.
Poorly maintained gas or oil furnaces can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, which can lead to serious sickness and possibly death. It is recommended that any home with a gas or oil system have a carbon monoxide detector.
How Electric Baseboards Work
Electric baseboards use resistance heating like electric stoves and space heaters. This is the most expensive form of heating, so use it as sparingly as possible.
Turn off baseboard heaters in unoccupied rooms.