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10 Tips for Better Winter Heating At Home

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Furnaces, HVAC

Action Furnace works with homeowners across Alberta to keep their furnaces running efficiently. Here are 10 tips from our team to help you get the most out of your heating equipment when the weather outside gets cold, from regularly changing your filters to closing your flue or chimney damper.


Posted by Ryan | September 11, 2023

In Alberta’s unpredictable climate, where brutal cold snaps can occur in practically any season, staying warm is as much about safety as it is about comfort. Whenever a chill enters the air, your furnace becomes your home’s best friend. But what can you do to make sure your heating system is prepared?

Booking annual furnace tune-ups with Action Furnace’s HVAC experts is essential, but there are also other things you can do to help keep your home cozy year-round. This guide will explore ten simple, cost-effective, and innovative ways to increase your heating efficiency, lower energy bills, and make your home a fortress against cold snaps.

Fresh vs dirty furnace filter

Tip 1: Keep Your Furnace Filter Fresh

Why It Matters

Replacing your furnace air filter is not just about cleanliness; it’s about efficiency. A clogged air filter makes your furnace work harder, consumes more energy, and could even lead to a breakdown.

What You Can Do

  • Change or clean the air filter every month while your furnace is in use.
  • Ensure the furnace is well-maintained, especially during harsh Alberta winters.

See Also: Why Is Furnace Maintenance Important?

Homeowner using plastic to add extra insulation to windows

Tip 2: Insulate Your Windows with Plastic

Why It Matters

Windows can be a significant source of heat loss, particularly in older houses with single-pane windows. Insulating them helps prevent heat from escaping and helps your furnace achieve the results you want with less work.

What You Can Do

  • Use clear plastic wrap to cover windows during the cold months.
  • Try transparent kits (like those from 3M) to keep your view unobstructed.
  • Focus on seldom-used areas if you prefer not to use plastic in high-traffic rooms.
Man checking heat vent in home to make sure it is unblocked

Tip 3: Ensure Heat Registers & Vents Are Unblocked

Why It Matters

Blocked vents reduce heating efficiency, causing your furnace to strain to meet the thermostat’s demands.

What You Can Do

  • Inspect heat registers and vents as the weather starts to cool.
  • Rearrange furniture to allow heat to circulate properly.
  • Keep wall vents uncovered for maximum efficiency.
Person reversing direction on ceiling fan to draw cold air upward and improve heating

Tip 4: Reverse Your Ceiling Fan

Why It Matters

A ceiling fan isn’t just a summer accessory. Changing its direction in winter helps circulate warm air throughout your home’s interior.

What You Can Do

  • Reverse the ceiling fan’s direction to draw cold air upward.
  • Keep the fan at its lowest speed to avoid cooling the room.
Person using programmable smart thermostat to optimize settings and improve winter heating at home

Tip 5: Optimize Your Thermostat

Why It Matters

Setting your thermostat properly allows you to achieve comfort at home without wasting energy by making your equipment work harder than necessary.

What You Can Do

  • Consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat (smart thermostats can significantly reduce energy costs by optimizing heating based on your activity patterns).
  • Set lower temperatures for when you’re away, and higher ones for evenings and weekends.

See Also: How to Save Money with a Smart Thermostat

Open curtains letting in sunlight during winter to help heat home

Tip 6: Use Your Curtains Strategically

Why It Matters

Your curtains aren’t just for privacy; they can also be valuable tools in keeping your home warm. Opening and closing them at specific times can help your home trap the most natural light (and heat) possible, supplementing the heat your furnace produces.

What You Can Do

  • Open curtains and blinds during the day to allow sunlight in through south-facing windows.
  • Close them tightly at night to keep the warmth in and the cold air out.
  • Experiment with different colours and materials to see what works best for your home’s insulation needs (light colours reflect heat while dark colours absorb it).
Closed interior door to control flow of heat inside house during winter

Tip 7: Don’t Heat Unused Rooms

Why It Matters

Heating unused rooms can waste energy. By controlling the flow of heat, you can direct warmth to where you need it most.

What You Can Do

  • Close doors to unused rooms like storage areas and guest bedrooms.
  • Consider closing off vents or registers in these spaces for added efficiency. You may also want to add zones to your home’s ductwork.
  • Remember to readjust settings when guests are present or when rooms are in use.

See Also: Should I Have a Zoned HVAC System?

Home in winter with chimney visible

Tip 8: Secure Your Chimney Damper (Flue)

Why It Matters

An open chimney damper can lead to unwanted drafts and loss of warm air, making your heating system work harder than it needs to.

What You Can Do

  • Close the chimney damper when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Check for a damper in older fireplaces (they might not always have one).
  • Remember to open the flue before using your fireplace to let smoke exit safely.
Rug on hardwood floor of Alberta home with winter weather outside

Tip 9: Put Rugs on Hard Floors

Why It Matters

Rugs provide extra insulation on hard-surface flooring, helping to reduce the chill on your feet.

What You Can Do

  • Place rugs in areas with hard floors to prevent heat from being lost through the floorboards.
  • Make sure your rugs are not covering any heat registers.
  • Experiment with different materials and thicknesses to find the perfect rug for your needs.
Professional HVAC technician performing annual furnace tune-up in home for better winter heating

Tip 10: Schedule Yearly Professional HVAC Tune-Ups

Why It Matters

Your heating system needs professional care to perform efficiently, especially during an Alberta cold snap. Our experienced technicians perform comprehensive multi-point inspections that assess your heating system’s performance and safety so that you can keep using it efficiently.

What You Can Do

Make Sure Your Furnace Can Handle the Cold

Cold weather is a natural part of living in Alberta, but it also comes with challenges—especially when it comes to keeping our homes warm and cozy. By implementing the ten tips above, you can quickly improve your heating system’s efficiency, save money, and enhance comfort.

Just remember: while DIY tips are helpful, professional maintenance is essential. When it’s time to have experienced HVAC technicians work on your furnace, Contact Action Furnace. Our team is ready to help you experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home is truly cold-weather-ready.

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Written by Ryan Tutak

Ryan is considered one of Calgary's most knowledgeable residential HVAC specialists. Working in the industry for over 12 years, he's helped thousands of homeowners with their heating and cooling systems. Outside of running Calgary's most reputable HVAC business, you can find him on the Golf course practicing his short game or traveling with his family. His main goal is to create a positive collaborative culture, one in which his employees are excited to come in and are motivated to work hard. He spends the majority of his day working directly with Home Comfort Advisors, Service and Maintenance Technicians, and Customer Service Representatives ensuring they are fully prepared to lead the Home Service Industry in Customer Service.

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