We aren’t fully out of the woods yet here in Chicago as far as cool weather goes. We can anticipate days in the 50s and night sometimes in the 30s for a few more weeks. But it’s about that time of year when air conditioners will run more often, and soon the dependable gas furnace in your Winnetka, IL home won’t need to supply its warmth until the fall comes around again.
But when the time comes to leave the furnace be, you shouldn’t simply forget about it. A furnace should shut down for the summer months.
Shutting down the furnace for summer is a way to save energy
Most furnaces will still use natural gas even when the furnace isn’t in use. This is particularly true for older models (many still actively working in homes) which ignite their burners using a standing pilot light. This light burns continually so that whenever the burners turn on, they’ll ignite rather than allow unburnt gas to start to build up. A standing pilot light will consume around 6000 to 9000 BTUs per day, and this can cost you an extra $30 over a summer.
Your furnace will also consume electricity when it’s not running because of a device called the thermocouple. This is a flame-sensing device that registers the pilot light is burning. If the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple signals to shut the flow of gas to the burners to avoid gas buildup. This consumes electricity even when the furnace isn’t running. There are also electrically powered valves in the furnace that consume additional electrical power.
Here’s what you should do
At the very least, shut off the flow of gas to the furnace when you finally stop using it for the summer. There are valves beside both the pilot assembly and the burner assembly you can turn that will stop the natural gas flow. You may also wish to turn off the electrical power to save additional money, although the electrical drain is not as much as the natural gas drain.
This helps with safety as well
Although furnaces are designed with safety uppermost in mind, there is always some risk of gas leaks and combustion, and you want to avoid this if at all possible. Shutting down the furnace for the summer removes one of the major gas-using appliances for the season, helping to minimize the danger.
Remember: Schedule pre-aeason air conditioning maintenance!
While we’re here, a friendly reminder that as you shut down your furnace you also must turn your attention to seeing the air conditioner is prepared for the hard work it’s about to do during the late spring and summer. If you haven’t done so yet, contact our team at our office and sign up for one of our residential maintenance agreements. We’ll come to your home and get you started with a thorough inspection and tune-up for the air conditioning system. And when it’s time for the furnace to roar back to life in fall, we’ll provide it with its own inspection and tune-up.
Malek Heating & Cooling: Serving the Chicagoland area since 1998.