The days are getting shorter and the nighttime temperatures in Charlotte, North Carolina, are dropping. That can only mean one thing: Winter is coming. Soon enough, the temperatures will feel chilly enough to warrant turning on your heating system. When that time comes, it’s important that your furnace or heat pump is ready to handle the workload. Otherwise, you risk paying high energy bills and experiencing a costly breakdown. Here are five fall tasks you can complete to prepare your heating system for winter:

Change the Filter in Your Heating System

The easiest task that every homeowner can complete to make sure their heating system operates efficiently is to change its filter regularly. That’s because a filter clogged with dirt and other debris will strain the system. As a result, it’ll raise your heating bills and increase your chance of requiring a repair. It’ll also worsen your home’s air quality, which can exacerbate allergy symptoms and cause other illnesses.

To help your furnace or heat pump operate at peak efficiency, change the filter at least every 90 days. The best time is at the start of the heating season. If you suffer from severe allergies or own a pet, change the filter every month.

Adjust the Ceiling Fans Around Your Home

Most homes in Charlotte have ceiling fans. If yours doesn’t, consider installing ceiling fans in high-traffic areas around your home to improve HVAC efficiency.

In the winter, make sure your ceiling fans rotate in a clockwise direction to ensure they redistribute the warm air your heating system produces to make rooms feel warmer. As a result, you can save as much as 15 percent on heating costs. Remember to turn off ceiling fans in unoccupied rooms to prevent wasting energy.

Seal Any Gaps in Your Thermal Envelope

The purpose of your home’s thermal envelope is to minimize the amount of energy you use to heat or cool your home. The most important parts of a thermal envelope are the outer walls, foundation, roof, doors and windows. If there are gaps in your thermal envelope, they’ll let warm air escape while letting cold air enter. Use caulking or weatherstripping to seal gaps in your thermal envelope to prevent straining your heating system and paying more than necessary to heat your home this winter.

Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat

If you’re still walking to the thermostat to adjust your home’s temperature, you’re missing out on a piece of convenient HVAC technology. With a smart thermostat, you won’t have to take that walk of shame again.

Whether you’re thousands of miles away or sitting on your couch, you can access a smart thermostat via an app on your smartphone. Smart thermostats can also learn your habits and adjust your home’s temperature automatically based on whether you’re active at home, away or sleeping. They even send energy usage reports so that you can lower your heating bills.

Schedule Fall Heating System Maintenance

Of course, the best way to prepare your heating system for the cold weather is to seek professional help. While changing your heating system’s filter is simple enough, you shouldn’t try to perform any other maintenance tasks on your heating system unless you’re qualified. Otherwise, you risk damaging the system and personal injury.

During a heating system maintenance visit, a service technician will perform a step-by-step check of your furnace or heat pump to make sure it’s in good working order. If there’s a need for a repair, they’ll be able to complete it right away and prevent bigger issues from developing. The last thing you want to experience is a breakdown on the coldest night of the year.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to get your furnace or heat pump checked by a professional. Contact Air Today at 704-893-1230 to learn more about our preventative maintenance agreement or to schedule a tune-up.

Image provided by Thinkstock