Spring is officially here, and soon enough, we’ll be turning our attention to our air conditioners. Hopefully, you’ve already scheduled maintenance for your cooling system so that it’s in good shape and ready to serve you well for the rest of this season and all throughout the summer months.
But just because it’s time to start thinking about your air conditioner doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about your furnace. In fact, we recommend paying a lot of attention to it, and taking the steps to either partially or fully shut it down over the summer. Read on as we uncover why this is a good idea and how it will help lower your energy bills.
“Is It Really Necessary to Shut Down My Furnace for the Season?”
It’s not necessary in the sense that your furnace will cause any sort of harm or danger if you don’t shut it down for the season. But if you’re interested in saving money and helping your furnace’s functionality and lifespan—sure, we can call it a necessity.
A gas-powered furnace that’s left on during the summer will continue consuming energy. This is particularly true if you have a furnace that uses a pilot light. The furnace will continue burning natural gas to keep the pilot light lit all throughout the rest of spring and into the summer, which wastes energy. The only benefit of keeping the pilot light on is that you can immediately activate the furnace if there is a cold spell during the summer, but this is unlikely.
Your furnace will consume electrical power, too, if not fully shut down. Even a natural gas-powered furnace relies on numerous electrical components, like sensors, and these will still operate through the season if the furnace isn’t totally shut down. And yes, if you have an electric furnace instead of a gas furnace, you’ll also need to shut it down.
It’s estimated that on average, homeowners can save about $50 a year in energy costs by shutting down their furnaces for the summer. This might not sound like much, but over the lifetime of the system, this can total $1,000+.
There’s an additional benefit to shutting down the furnace: you don’t have to worry about it turning on and wasting power if someone switches the settings on the thermostat in your household. So, how do you do this?
To fully shut down your gas-powered furnace, you’ll want to first find the gas valve that channels the natural gas to the furnace. Turn the valve so that it shuts off the flow of gas (you will see the pilot light go out). Then go to your electrical panel and flip off the breaker switch to the furnace so it doesn’t draw on any electrical power—unless you have a central air conditioner connected to the same circuit breaker. In this case, you’ll want to turn off the furnace’s access to the gas line, but you won’t want to switch off the electrical power, of course!