Use these 11 quick winter house and furnace fixes to prevent equipment breakdowns, lower your energy bill, and keep cold temperatures at bay.
A sparkling white world greets you as you wake up. You dress in thick layers and put on your boots. Frigid wind swirls around the door as you step out to take in the hushed winter morning.
After a few minutes, you head back inside to prepare your favorite seasonal treat, hot chocolate thickened by melting marshmallows. You can’t wait for the heat to kick on. The only problem is, it doesn’t.
This is a hypothetical scenario, but equipment failure does create expensive consequences when you don’t properly prepare your home. Use these 11 quick winter house and furnace fixes to prevent equipment breakdowns, lower your energy bill, and keep cold temperatures at bay.
11 Quick Winter House and Furnace Fixes
1. Never Skip the Annual Inspection
Would you rather pay:
- $100 for an annual furnace inspection?
- Between $100 and $1,200 for a furnace repair?
- Between $2,527 and $6,078 to replace your furnace?
Hopefully, you picked the first option. An annual inspection will save you money on repair and replacement costs, and it will keep your furnace’s energy efficiency in peak condition while helping the unit run longer.
2. Schedule a Duct Cleaning
When you schedule a duct cleaning, an HVAC professional will clean:
- Air ducts
- Heat exchangers
- Fan motors
- And more
This process will:
- Improve air quality.
- Eliminate dust particles.
- Increase furnace efficiency.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the price of this service will range from $450 to $1,000 per heating and cooling unit and vary according to the system size, accessibility, region, and contamination levels (amounts of dust or mold).
The EPA recommends you have your ducts cleaned if you notice:
- Large amounts of dust blowing out of supply vents.
- Mold growth in ducts.
- Rodents and insects in vents.
HVAC professionals suggest you have your air ducts cleaned every three to five years or one to three years if you’re a pet owner.
3. Don’t Crank the Heat 24/7
When you come in from the cold, you might want to crank the thermostat to get the furnace working faster. Instead of blasting the heat, let your body adjust to the new temperature. Contrary to popular belief, raising your thermostat setting will not heat your house more quickly or effectively. This will only lead to a massive energy bill at the end of the month.
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider purchasing one. You can set the temperature to increase or decrease during certain times of the day.
4. Hang Heavy Curtains
Cover your windows with heavy, insulating curtains. Thick cloth drapes will keep drafts from blowing into the house and prevent warm air from escaping.
5. Say “Hi” to the Sun
Let the sun heat your home naturally (and for free). Crack those curtains for a few hours during the day as the galaxy's biggest heat source works its magic.
6. Cover Up Holes and Gaps
Check all the windows and door frames for drafts, and install standard weather stripping to close the gaps. If you have a fireplace and don’t use it during the winter, buy a chimney balloon to seal the passageway.
7. Force the Heat Down
If you set your ceiling fans to turn clockwise, hot air will be pushed back down into the room. Keep the speed setting on low so the fan doesn't cool the air. This tip works best for houses with high ceilings.
8. Tuck in Your Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors can create huge heat loss problems during the winter. If you have extra rugs or carpets stored away, lay them down on the bare spots on the floors. Any extra effort to improve insulation will keep the heat from escaping.
9. Close Off Underused Rooms
If you're not using certain rooms:
- Close the vent in those rooms.
- Seal the windows.
- Close the door.
- Place a door seal at the foot of the door to keep cold air from seeping into other areas of the house.
10. Wrap Up Windows or Replace Them
Use a plastic seal kit and thick bubble wrap to seal up old and drafty windows. The plastic will attach to the window frame with adhesives, and the bubble wrap will provide an extra barrier on the glass.
- Your energy bills are high after several window repairs (and especially if you’ve followed the other steps in this guide).
- You house is drafty in winter and can’t hold cool air in summer.
- The wood molding around the windows is rotting and falling apart.
- They won’t work properly because of their condition.
As an added bonus, there’s a tax credit for installing energy efficient windows.
11. Set a Furnace Filter Schedule
This may seem like common sense advice, but you should check your furnace filter every month. If you need a reminder, set up alerts through Google Calendar or write a note to yourself and stick it on the fridge.
HVAC.com offers the following recommendations for replacing your furnace filter:
1″ Furnace Filter: Every 1 – 3 Months
2″ Furnace Filter: Every 1 – 3 Months
3″ Furnace Filter: Every 6 – 9 Months
4″ Furnace Filter: Every 6 – 9 Months
5″ Furnace Filter: Every 9 – 12 Months
6″ Furnace Filter: Every 9 – 12 Months
As you prepare your house and furnace for winter, don’t forget to talk to your local Pekin Insurance agent about adding Equipment Breakdown Coverage to your Homeowners policy.
For only $20 per year, Equipment Breakdown Coverage provides up to $50,000 for the accidental breakdown of permanently attached equipment* like furnaces, heat pumps, central air conditioning, and more.
*Subject to a $500 deductible per loss.