7 ways to stay warm and keep your furnace from working harder

The weather in the capital this week has reached record breaking temperatures of -37 degrees Celsius with the windchill. To most this means racing home, jumping under a blanket, hot tea in hand, and jacking up the temperature on the thermostat. That routine is all fine and dandy but there are a few things to keep in mind when it’s so cold outside.

Here are 7 tips to avoid costly repair bills, lower energy bills, and getting stuck in the cold…

#1 Change your filter.

There has been so many times we have shown up to a repair call and the homeowner has neglected to change the filter. A blocked filter restricts air flow and will cause your furnace to compensate and work harder. Air flow restriction leads to increased energy consumption, poor air and heat quality, and furnace failure. The amount of times you should change your filter in a season depends on the household. As an example, if you have pets you will have to change more frequently than a pet-free home. We recommend checking it regularly.

#2 Unblock vents (registers).

As mentioned in the previous tip, lack of air flow can cause a lot of issues with your heating system. You may need to adjust your furniture to free up space surrounding any venting. For example, you might have to move your couch a few inches forward from a wall or reposition an area rug to allow some clearance over the register. Another thing to consider is keeping all your registers OPEN and clear of debris.

#3 Lock your thermostat.

When we were kids our parents never let us touch the thermostat (for good reason!), “put a sweater on!” With the new smart thermostats available today it’s even easier to hike up the temperature in the house. We suggest setting a password on your smart thermostat to avoid any surprises.

#4 Set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature.

There are times when you come home and just want to be warm already! So you head over to the thermostat and crank it up to 28 degrees Celsius thinking the house will get from 18c to 22c faster. Wrong. Thermostats are designed to control your heating system by heating your home to a set temperature, then switching off the furnace when the temperature reaches the desired temperature. The furnace works at the same capacity regardless of the difference between the current temperature and desired temperature. The only thing that changes is the duration that the furnace runs. If you set the heat to 2 degrees warmer your furnace might run for 15-20 minutes then turn off. If you set it to 10 degrees warmer it might run continuously, which isn’t ideal.

#5 Avoid heat loss.

Just like it implies, heat escaping from your indoor environment. This can happen by leaving the door open longer than necessary and poor insulation. For a quick fix, try adding or changing the weather stripping on your exterior doors and hanging thermal curtains over drafty windows.

#6 Set your thermostat to a “Sleep” or “Away”.

Lower the temperature in your home a couple degrees when it’s time for bed or when you’re away. Some thermostats have a Sleep, Away, or Eco mode (see manufacturer instructions). Don’t lower your thermostat so much that when you wake up (or come home) your furnace has to run for 40+ minutes to get back to the desired temperature – see tip #4.

#7 Schedule regular maintenance.

Schedule an annual inspection/tune-up for your heating system by a licensed HVAC contractor (like us!) to ensure your system is working safely and efficiently. Heating systems are like a car, they need regular maintenance to avoid costly repairs down the road.


If you have any questions about how to ensure your heating system is working efficiently, don’t hesitate to give us a shout at 613-229-4573 or info@greatnorthheating.ca.