You may need your furnace for the chilly spring mornings. After that, you may never need to heat your home for the next four months. However, even if you never use your furnace, it still consumes gas if it stays on. Should you keep it on the whole four months of summer?
Should You Turn It Off?
Even if you are not using your furnace because the summer temperature has risen, its pilot light will still be on. This pilot light is responsible for igniting the burners of your furnace. However, modern gas furnaces have electric igniters, so they do not have a flame that burns all the time.
The pilot light produces a very small flame, smaller than what a candle produces. However, the flame is much hotter and can consume up to 900 BTUs every day. This means that you will spend up to 10 cents every day to keep the gas furnace on.
Ten cents every day may not be much for you. If you spend that every day for four months, it will add up to $12. It is not huge savings, but you do not need to spend that if there is no need.
Besides what the gas the unit consumes, it also consumes in electricity. The electronic valves that turn the gas to the pilot light and to the burners require electricity. Further, each gas furnace has a thermocouple that regulates the pilot light. The function of the thermocouple is to switch off the gas to the pilot light if the light ever goes off. It keeps you safe, and you have to keep it on.
The thermocouple will consume electricity even when the furnace is not in use – as long as the furnace stays on. By turning off the gas furnace in summer, you will save up to $20 in electricity bills. However, there are instances where your air conditioning system may be using the blower of your furnace to blow air into your living space in the hot summer months. In such a case, you cannot turn off the electricity supply to the furnace.
For homeowners who do not have central air conditioners and instead use window units or fans, you can switch off the electricity supply to the furnace. The furnace only uses about 10 watts, and the savings from switching off the furnace will not be much. However, you can still save enough for two meals. At Peterman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we can help you make the decision, depending on your HVAC setup.
How Can You Ensure the Gas Furnace Doesn’t Consume Fuel in the Summer?
Upgrade to a Newer Furnace Model
Your gas furnace will continuously use fuel in the summer even if your thermostat is turned all the way down. For starters, the furnace pilot light stays on 24 hours a day every day of the week. This is common for furnaces that are 15 years or more. The tiny blue flame you see on your furnace is responsible for the functioning of your furnace.
The only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is if you get a newer furnace. These furnaces come with an electronic system that doesn’t need to stay on all the time.
The pilot light system was a clever idea for homeowners to save time. Instead of manually lighting the furnace, it stays on and heats your home automatically. Although the system meant for your furnace will not use gas efficiently, it was and still is a great way to heat your home automatically.
Because of the pilot light, the older furnaces have an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of between 56% and 70%. This means that, of the fuel consumed, the system will use between 56% and 70% to generate heat for your home. Modern systems are more efficient with an AFUE rating of between 80% and 98.5%.
These modern systems have electronic ignition, sealed combustion, and other hardware changes that make them more efficient.
Stop Using the Furnace as a Water Heater
You can use your boiler to heat water at home. You only need to fit the right hardware, and you are good to go. The hardware you use to do that will result in your system consuming more fuel.
One of the hardware that homeowners fit in boilers is a tankless coil. For the coil to work, your boiler needs to be hot. This will not be a problem during the cold winter months, but in summer, you will have unnecessary heat. These tankless coils will reduce your boiler’s AFUE rating up to 25%.
You can, however, go for indirect water heaters. These heaters come with a separate tank. The boiler heats the tank, and you will have hot water when you need it. Such a system ensures that your boiler doesn’t cycle on and off constantly. It is more fuel-efficient.
Separate the Central Air Conditioning from your Heating System
If you have window air conditioners, you do not need to keep your furnace on during summer. However, if your air conditioning system requires a blower fan from your furnace, you will need to keep the system on.
If you need to keep the furnace off for energy savings, you need to separate the two systems. This means system changes that can cost you money.
Are The Energy Savings Worth to Keep Your Furnace Off?
To keep the gas furnace off all summer, you need to change the system so that your central AC system doesn’t rely on the furnace blower fan. That will cost you more than the energy savings you get with your furnace off. Even if you keep the furnace off for summers or several years, you will still need to add more money to change your system.
If you are a penny pincher and your AC doesn’t rely on the furnace fan, the savings will be worth it.
Why Should You Keep the Furnace On All Summer?
There are a few risks that you face when you turn off the gas furnace for long periods.
For starters, moisture might form on parts of your furnace. When the furnace is off, it gets cold and humidity might condense on its parts. If your basement gets damp in the summer months, your furnace will likely get moist too. The moisture will lead to rust, which shortens the life of your boiler.
Corrosion is also a major problem for shut-down furnaces. Even when there is no moisture, the soot on the walls of the furnace can lead to corrosion, which damages some parts of your boiler and shortens its life.
If you leave the furnace on for long, it gathers dirt and debris. In turn, the dirt and debris resulting in insects making your furnace their home. Cleaning the debris and removing the insects will require that you drain the tanks and call a professional.
If you have to turn off the furnace, you need to clean it after turning it off. You also need to maintain a cleaning schedule to avoid the problems above.
Should You Turn Off the Furnace or Keep it On?
Weigh your options. When you turn it off, you get energy savings and reduced noise. When you keep it on, you help your AC run better. If you do not need it to run your AC, then switch it off and maintain a cleaning routine.
Contact us Today
At Peterman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we offer installation, repair, and maintenance services for your heating, cooling, and plumbing systems. We serve Indianapolis, IN, and the surrounding areas. Call Peterman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing and talk to our technician.