Is It Necessary to Keep Your Furnace Running All the Time in Minnesota?

technician inspecting furnace

Minnesota winters are harsh by every standard. When local temperatures plummet, having access to a reliable and high-functioning heating system is crucial. But how often should heaters in Glenwood homes run during winter? Is it necessary to keep your furnace running continuously?

What Your Home Heating System Is Supposed to Do

Home heating systems aren’t meant to warm up freezing living environments for short periods of time. Instead, they’re designed to create comfortable indoor temperatures and maintain them. The best way to keep your winter heating costs at a reasonable level is by never letting your inside temperature fall too low. However, this isn’t solely the job of your furnace or boiler. Comfortable indoor temperatures are largely the result of well-insulated and well-sealed buildings. If your home is properly sealed and has adequate insulation, the heat that your heating system produces won’t rapidly escape.

Although you might be eager to cut your home heating bills, letting indoor temperatures fall too low, even when you’re away, can create a host of costly problems. If the building interior becomes too cold, your home’s pipes will likely freeze. Frozen pipes that burst are incredibly expensive to replace. It’s far better and infinitely more cost-effective to simply pick a moderate thermostat setting and stick with it.

Choosing a Reasonable Thermostat Setting

Many home heating experts recommend setting the thermostat to just 68 degrees and then leaving it. If building residents want to be a little bit warmer, they can always layer on extra clothing. This setting accounts for increases in heat resulting from everyday activities such as cooking and general movement. It also ensures that home heating bills don’t soar to an unmanageable level.

If you have a smart or programmable thermostat, you can set it to drop the indoor temperature by as much as 10 degrees whenever you leave or go to bed. When you’re gone or bundled up in blankets and bulky pajamas, this setting should be sufficiently high for keeping your pipes from freezing. However, letting indoor temperatures fall much lower than this is unnecessarily risky. It will also increase the amount of work that your furnace has to do when you wake up or return.

Protecting Your Pipes From Freezing

The health and integrity of your home’s plumbing system is a key concern during the coldest part of winter. If your pipes aren’t insulated, take steps to have this done. This way, if your heating system fails or if power is lost for an extended period of time, the risks of freezing pipes will be greatly minimized.

Air Drafts and Insulation

If you’ve got your thermostat at a reasonable setting, your furnace shouldn’t run constantly. There should be nice breaks in between heat production cycles. These breaks mean that the heat your furnace is distributing isn’t being rapidly lost. If your heater runs nonstop, have the R-values of your current insulation checked. You may need to have more insulation added to the building or have another insulation type put in.

You should also inspect your home for gaps and cracks in building materials and for other sources of air leaks. Much of the typical home’s indoor heat is lost as a result of poorly sealed doors and windows. Finding and resolving these leaks will limit the amount of stress that your furnace is subjected to and lower your home’s energy bills.

Heater Sizes Matter

If you found and purchased your furnace entirely on your own, you may have a sizing issue. Heater sizes matter. Contrary to popular thought, bigger isn’t always better. During professional furnace installation, careful calculations are made to determine the best heater specifications for the building. If you purchased a heater that’s too large, this unit will constantly cycle off and on. If your furnace is too small for the building, it will have to run constantly to keep up with heat demand. These are issues that you may need to address if you purchased existing construction. Heating installation mistakes made by former homeowners could leave you paying far higher energy bills than necessary.

Problems With Furnace Efficiency

As furnaces near or reach the end of their lifespans, they have a harder time generating sufficient heat. If your furnace is old, ill-maintained, or simply outdated, you may have noticeable hot and cold spots throughout your home, or your heater may run all of the time. These are problems that you can solve with professional maintenance or timely heater replacement. As the months and years go by, hanging onto a furnace that’s under-performing can become far more expensive than buying a new one.

Since 1988, Greeley Plumbing Heating & A/C has been providing reliable heating services throughout the greater Glenwood, Minnesota, area. We also offer sheet metal fabrication, plumbing services, and indoor cooling solutions. If your furnace is constantly running, we can help you find out why. Call us today to schedule an appointment for service.

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