Milwaukee/NARI Suggests Furnace Maintenance Improves Performance, Provides Energy Savings

Feb. 2, 2011

February is National Care About Your Indoor Air Month. Contributing to the quality of your indoor air is how well your furnace operates. Members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area's leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for more than 49 years, offer maintenance advice to keep the furnace running optimally.


“Your furnace is the heart of your home,” said Bill Brink, owner of Kettle Moraine Heating and Air Conditioning, LLC, Genesee Depot. “If your furnace stops working, it can be detrimental to your home. However, there are steps you can take to prevent this headache. One is annual maintenance. Many customers I work with who don’t want to do maintenance say to me one of two things; ‘I didn’t service my old furnace for 30 years,’ or ‘Another company didn’t seem like they did anything.’”


Brink explains that today’s furnaces cannot be compared to those of 30 years ago. “Some 30-year-old units were 50 percent efficient compared to today’s 98 percent efficient units and they had one-sixth of today’s components. The comparison there is night vs. day,” he said, adding that most manufactures require maintenance to uphold the warranty. “Also, some company’s surface clean and others do a precision tune up. Precision maintenance requires the gas pressure testing, carbon monoxide detection, and heat exchanger inspection to name a few. These surface cleaners give a bad name to our industry. Technicians should welcome you to watch them.


Brink provided other preventative maintenance steps:


• Put the task of checking your PVC furnace exhaust/intake pipes on with your snow shoveling routine. If these pipes are obstructed in any way, your furnace will not work.


• Change the batteries in the thermostat. Not all thermostats have them, but the ones that do keep the furnace ‘heart’ running. If they die, so does the furnace. Check your furnace batteries when you check your smoke detector batteries.


• Change your furnace filter. Don’t trust the filter packing on how long they will last. Checking the filter takes a couple of minutes. Do it monthly and you’ll never have a problem (especially with painting, floor sanding or construction taking place.)


• Don’t think, “out of sight, out of mind.” Your furnace is keeping your family warm and pipes from freezing. Go downstairs every once in a while and make sure there is no water leaking, heavy vibrations, or odd sounds coming from it.


Furnaces that are not maintained also do not run efficiently, costing the homeowner money.


“Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other appliance in your home. Typically, 44 percent of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling,” stated Steve Holland, owner of One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, Jackson.


“You can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace or air conditioner alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance, weatherization, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution output in half.”


Holland’s advice for increasing energy savings include:


• Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer. You can save as much as 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10 percent to 15 percent for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.


• Clean air registers as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.


• Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.


• During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.


• Select energy-efficient equipment when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).


According to Bill Gelden of Milwaukee Stove & Furnace Supply Co. in Milwaukee, “’Intelligent’ thermostats save energy and give improved control performance by giving accurate control of the indoor environment. Homeowners save energy by setting comfort levels when and how they want them.”


The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.


The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 800 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.


For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI’s Remodeling Guide,” call (414) 771-4071 or visit the Council’s Web site at


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