Should I Turn Off My Furnace When I’m Not at Home?

Family with two children having fun at home.

Your question: should I turn off my furnace when I’m not at home?

Our answer: dial it down but keep it on.

We don’t run the lawnmower unless we’re cutting the grass. We turn off the lights when we leave a room. Why would we leave on the furnace if we’re not there?

Keep in mind that providing heat to your Texas home accounts for nearly half of your energy bill. At AiRCO Heating & Cooling, we recommend an annual checkup of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system just to be sure it’s operating at peak efficiency to help manage those energy costs.

Keeping Warm

A major difference between a furnace and a lawnmower is that a furnace isn’t running nonstop. The temperature in your Austin or Round Rock home is regulated by a wall thermostat. When the thermostat detects a decrease in temperature, it switches on the heat circuit and the furnace control board begins the ignition process.

Once the room air has sufficiently warmed, the thermostat signals the furnace to turn off. How often this cycle repeats itself depends on the temperature outdoors versus how warm you want it to be indoors.

Heat constantly escapes your home when it’s cold outdoors, which is why it makes sense to lower the thermostat when you’re not there. But turning off the furnace in the winter—especially when you’re away for long periods of time—runs the risk of frozen pipes that could easily burst when they thaw.

Here’s where we can dial down our thermostat (commonly referred to as a “temperature setback”).

The Right Setting

It’s a popular myth that a furnace has to work harder to heat up a cold house than to maintain a constant temperature. In fact, your furnace starts running the moment your home’s temperature drops below the thermostat setting. When it’s cold outdoors, your furnace is constantly running to maintain a comfortable temperature.

The less your furnace runs, the more money you save.

We recommend keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re awake at home, and then setting it back 10 to 12 degrees when you’re away or asleep. This strategy can save you as much as 10 percent a year on your energy bill, according to ENERGY STAR®.

You may need a sweater and some extra blankets at night, but the money you save will bring warmth to your pocketbook.

If you’re going on vacation in the winter, set the thermostat to 55 degrees. Your pipes won’t freeze while you’re away and your furnace will run less. If you’re leaving behind a dog or cat, set it to 63 degrees. Your pets will stay warm and you’ll still save money.

Programmable Thermostats

Although we’re saving energy (and money) by setting back the thermostat, there’s still the inconvenience of coming home or waking up to a chilly house. Shivering is no fun.

Our solution? Install a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule multiple settings based on your lifestyle. The benefit here is you can schedule your thermostat to start warming up the house 30 minutes or so before you arrive home from work or wake up in the morning.

Programmable thermostats are easy to install and operate. For the best results, be sure to install your thermostat on an interior wall that’s away from direct sunlight or a draft. If you’re not sure about the best location or which product works best with your system, give AiRCO a call and we’ll gladly help you.

Give Us a Call Today

Here in Austin, Texas we’re all about getting the most out of our furnaces during the cold weather months. Call AiRCO Heating & Cooling at 512.537.1234 or request service online to schedule a routine checkup of your HVAC system and to learn more about programmable thermostats.

Need HVAC Service?

Contact the experts at AiRCO Mechanical.

Call us at 512-537-1234!