Does a Gas Furnace Need Electricity? (And 5 Other Questions to Answer Before Winter)
Sometimes it feels as if summer has barely arrived and yet it’s fleeting away so quickly that it’s nearly time for your fall HVAC inspection, just in time to prepare for the cooler winter months.
But how well did your home heating system really work last year? Were some rooms much warmer than others? Was it turned up on high and yet everyone still needed to walk around in sweatshirts? Was your bill exorbitant despite using your heating system sparingly?
These winter HVAC issues are not uncommon. In fact, they are some of the most reported issues that prompt homeowners to look into upgrading their systems.
Unfortunately, it’s a challenge to decide what to invest in, as the best HVAC system is one that fits your budget, energy consumption goals, heating and cooling goals, and your home layout. Since it’s so personal, and it’s not a topic commonly discussed around the watercooler at work, you’ll want to connect with your local HVAC experts to determine your options and who you’d like to perform the work.
But to get going in the right direction, let’s address the questions that come up most often before winter arrives.
1. Does a Gas Furnace Need Electricity?
The short answer is yes. but let’s dig into this a little deeper.
All furnaces operate as a forced-air heating system and most share a duct system with your air conditioner. When your furnace is powered by gas, a pilot light ignites burners inside a combustion chamber. When operated by electricity, an electrical ignition starts the process. Either way, the heat then creates heated air, which is forced throughout the home via your ductwork.
And even a gas furnace needs electricity to run the fan motor and the igniter. However, the electrical use for an igniter is negligible, and with the development of variable-speed fan motors, they can adjust to a slower speed when heating needs are not as high, thus saving on electricity costs.
It’s up to you to decide which system fits your household best. Consult with HVAC professionals to get a better understanding of up-front and monthly costs to help make your final decision.
2. Which Heating System Is Most Common in Oregon?
According to the most recent data provided by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, gas (50 percent) is the most common source, followed by electric heat (33 percent). Gas is even more prevalent in urban communities, but oil and wood make up a greater percentage comparatively, at 13 and 18 percent versus 2 and 6 percent, in urban areas.
There’s no wrong way to heat your home and many options to select from. However, gas and electric will continue to draw additional market share, as they are the more energy-efficient and cost-effective modern solutions available.
3. Should I Repair or Replace My Home Heating System?
There’s no way to definitively answer this question without more information about your particular situation, but the following questions will help you discover the answer:
- How old is your current HVAC system?
- Is it working properly?
- How expensive is the repair you need?
- Will the repair solve all of the issues you’re experiencing?
- How long will the repairs last?
- Was your current system the proper size for your home?
With guidance from an HVAC expert, you’ll be able to answer each of these questions and become armed with the information you need to make an informed decision.
Sometimes a repair is a good solution. Other times, it’s an expensive Band-Aid to delay an even more expensive replacement and might not be the best course of action.
There’s not always a simple solution so make sure to work with an HVAC company that’s glad to alleviate your concerns and honestly and thoughtfully answer each of your questions without pressuring you to make a snap decision.
4. What Temperature Should the Heat Be Set At?
The US Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat as low as possible while staying comfortable and lowering it even more when you’re asleep or away from home. For most, the comfortable range will be between 68 and 74 degrees.
5. How Often Do Air Filters Need to Be Replaced?
If you have a forced-air system, regardless of the power source, or heat pump, you should be replacing the fiberglass filters as often as necessary. Check once per month during the heating season to see if a cleaning or replacement is needed. And in this case, higher quality is definitely worth the investment. High-quality filters improve the efficiency of your system and the quality of the air in your home.
Dirty filters will make your heating system ineffective, so it’s best to clean or replace them regularly, rather than placing the task on the back burner and causing ill-intended consequences. Set a recurring alarm on your phone for the first Saturday of every month, and you’ll be comfortable year-round.
6. What Is Zone Heating & Why Is it Something I Should Consider?
You likely have a central heating and cooling HVAC system. This essentially means that you turn on your AC or heat, and it’s uniformly distributed throughout your house. However, there’s another, maybe better way.
Zone heating allows you to control the temperature in each area of your home, rather than relying on one thermostat. Instead, you work closely with an HVAC professional to determine which rooms have similar sun exposure, ceiling height, occupancy, and the like to ensure that each space is as comfortable as possible.
For example, your family room might have high ceilings and see more traffic than your home office, which gets direct sunlight throughout the day. Each of these rooms has different heating needs for its occupants to feel comfortable. So rather than blasting the heat until most rooms are comfortable, up the temperature in the zone where it’s needed.
Zone heating, in addition to creating more comfortable environments, is also more energy efficient, as the temperatures can be lowered, for example, in every zone except for your home office during the workday.
Answering HVAC heating questions often illuminates some topics while giving rise to more queries. Whether you have more questions similar to “does a gas furnace need electricity” or simply want to schedule your seasonal maintenance check, reach out to our team at Entek today.