Advice on how to maintain your heating system

How To 2

By Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
CLIFTON PARK — As we settle into September, it’s time to prepare for the colder months in the fall and winter seasons. What better way to prepare than to make the necessary adjustments to your heating system that will help you to stay comfortable in your home as well as reduce rising costs?

Sounds good doesn’t it?

Marc Gladding, general manager of Appolo Heating — a company that is headquartered in Rotterdam but serves a large portion of the Clifton Park area — has been in the heating and cooling business for many years.

“Appolo Heating has been around since 1967,” Gladding said. “When we first opened for business, we were primarily focused on doing residential new construction and we have since grown to include two other locations — we service the majority of New York State — and we also have a commercial department as well as replacement and service work.”

Gladding has some tricks up his sleeve to help you have a warmer home and a thicker wallet:

Out with the old: “As we move into fall and winter the focus is on updating older heating equipment, whether it be gas furnaces or boilers, and most people are looking or equipment that is high-efficiency,” Gladding said. “Nowadays that means 95 percent-plus efficiency, and that can reduce somebody’s utility usage 40 to 50 percent over the course of a heating season.”

Keep your filter fresh: “If someone has a forced air heating system, the first thing they should do on a regular basis is replace their air filter,” Gladding said. “We get a number of service calls every year where the customer says, ‘The furnace isn’t producing as much heat as it used to and lo and behold we get there and we pull a filter out of there that is completely clogged and blocking air flow.”

Regularly service: “We recommend that you have your equipment serviced on an annual basis,” Gladding said. “This not only helps to maintain the efficiency, but it also ensures that the equipment is operating properly and is safe to operate.”

He continued: “The big thing is to prevent somebody from running a furnace that’s beginning to deteriorate and has the possibility of emitting carbon monoxide into the air. It’s a pretty dangerous situation if that happens.”

Tweaking the temperature:
“The bottom line is, each person’s comfort is personal; some people are comfortable in their homes at 66 degrees, other people — like my mother — keep their house at 72,” Gladding said. “That’s a wild swing, but what we recommend is that customers, if they are going to raise and lower their thermostats, they try and be consistent with it as much as possible. You don’t want to get wild with your swings.”

“You’ve probably been told that in order to save the most money you should drop your thermostat 10 degrees when you go to bed or are not home,” he said. “The problem with that is twofold. One is it takes time to raise the temperature 10 degrees, so if you come home at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and you want to raise it, it’s going to take a half hour or 40 minutes to do so and most people don’t want to wait that long. The other thing is because you’ve had such a wild swing in the temperature, you’ve basically using up a large amount of the gas you saved during the day. So, what we recommend is don’t drop or raise it below 5 degrees.”

Shiny and new: It never hurts to invest in the future. “The newer furnaces are designed to run more often. So the higher-efficiency, higher-end units, we recommend that you don’t even change the temperature setting — just let them run.”

“Another thing that we could recommend to enhance the overall performance of your furnace is the addition of an indoor air quality product, a humidifier to add moisture during the winter so that the house isn’t as dry,” Gladding said. “Most people with a forced air system usually complain that when they wake up in the morning they have a stuffy nose or a dry throat; a humidifier will help prevent that, and moist air also retains the heat longer so a side benefit is that you’re going to use less gas to keep your house comfortable.”

Clear the air: “Upgraded air filtration is another thing,” Gladding said. “Not only does it do a better job of removing the airborne particles that may be in the air that you’re breathing in, but it also keeps them out of your furnace. The more stuff you keep out of your furnace, the more efficient that’s going to be and the longer that’s going to last.”
Room by room basis: “You can open and close registers in areas of the home that you use the most and keep warm and comfortable or — during the summer — cool and comfortable,” Gladding said. “I have a customer who no longer uses the second floor of their house, so I recommended to close the registers up there so more of their heat will be focused where they are spending the majority of their time.”

Watch your windows: “Make sure that your windows are not only closed when you’re running your heating and air conditioning, but that they are caulked and sealed properly,” Gladding said.