Fall is a magical season – a time of cozy weather, burnt orange leaves, and the delicious scent of pumpkin spice. But it’s also a time that can be most unpredictable when it comes to temperature. One moment you feel hot; the next, you are piling on layers. This can make it tricky to know exactly when to switch on your heating system. Adding the rising energy costs to this dilemma and it can feel truly daunting to decide when to turn on the heater.
Some might say that cold weather automatically warrants the heat to be switched on, while others argue that it’s best to wait until the temperature drops significantly. Some believe that looking at weather conditions on a day-to-day basis is a more accurate way to decide when to turn the heat on during fall.
So, what’s the right answer? When should you actually switch on your heating system? Read on and find out!
How to Decide When to Turn On Heat in Your House?
When it comes to turning the heat on, there’s no fixed temperature value, as it can vary depending on your location, weather conditions, home insulation, comfort level, and cost considerations. Here are a few things to remember when deciding the best time to turn the heat on in your house.
Your Home Temperature
According to WHO, the indoor temperature should be between 65 F – 75 F during winter. If you have children, the elderly, or people with health issues, the minimum temperature should be above 68 degrees.
If your indoor temperature falls below this range, it may be time to turn the heat on!
The WHO recommended temperature value above may not cater to everyone. You may have a different comfort threshold. If you are someone who doesn’t feel that cold, even if it’s below 65 degrees, you don’t have to turn on the heat. You can continue saving energy! On the other hand, if you feel chilly and uncomfortable when it’s 77 indoors, you can definitely use your heating unit. Your personal comfort should be your top priority.
The ideal sleeping temperature is accepted to be around 65 F. For a comfortable sleep, it is recommended to keep your thermostat set between 60 – 67 degrees.
In case your bedroom temperature goes below 65 F at night, you can turn on the heating system for a few hours. To save on energy, try turning the thermostat back 7-10 degrees from your daytime settings. For instance, if your thermostat is set to 68 F during the day, you can lower it to 61 F at night. You can also use warm bedding and a blanket to keep yourself comfortable without cranking up the heat.
What Is the Best Thermostat Setting for Winter?
The ideal thermostat settings for winter are between 68-72 F when you are at home. This range is a perfect balance of comfort and energy savings. You can save even more when you are away or sleeping by turning the thermostat back 7-10 degrees from your usual temperature settings.
Tip: Manually adjusting the thermostat for separate daytime and nighttime settings can be a hassle. A smart thermostat or a smart AC controller that works with a mini-split, window, or portable heat pump can help automate your home climate. With these smart devices, you can easily set schedules, and your temperature settings will be applied automatically at your set timings.
What to Do Before Switching on Your Heating System
Before turning on the heat, you need to take a few important steps, like checking the heating system and making sure your house insulation is at par. With the proper preparations, you can easily stay warm and cozy in the winter season.
1. Upgrade Your Thermostat
With energy prices in the US rising to the highest level since 1981, it’s best to upgrade your thermostat if it’s extremely old or faulty. New thermostat devices have advanced technology that can help you lower your electricity bills.
When upgrading, consider switching to a smart thermostat or a smart AC controller. These smart devices offer a host of advanced features that can help you maintain your desired temperature while also reducing energy consumption. With next-gen features, you can ensure your unit is not running when it isn’t needed. Plus, you can keep track of the usage and take necessary actions to save energy.
2. Find & Fix Air Leaks
You might not pay attention to small air leaks, but they can significantly affect your home comfort and energy bills in the longer run. Cold air can infiltrate your home through cracks and gaps, while hot air from your HVAC unit can easily leak out. Finding and fixing air leaks in your home can help lower your energy costs by an average of 15%.
Drafts are commonly found around doors, windows, pipes, floorboards, chimneys, ductwork, and wiring holes. You can use caulk to seal small gaps around your home. To fill in the leaks in doors and windows, apply weatherstripping. Silicone-based filler can be used to fill the cracks in your floorboards. Also, check for leaks around your air ducts. You can use foil tape or apply duct mastic to cover the duct holes and prevent heat from seeping through.
3. Perform Tune-ups
One of the best ways to ensure your unit is running at its best is by performing regular HVAC tune-ups. This means cleaning AC filters and checking for any signs of damage, leaks, or wear and tear. If necessary, schedule a maintenance check with a professional technician. This helps detect any issues, such as unusual HVAC smells or sounds.
4. Test Run Your Heating System
After you have performed the tune-ups, do a practice run before it gets cold. This helps to detect any issues early on and prevents you from suffering in the cold due to a faulty HVAC system.
5. Increase Your Home’s Humidity Levels
As the temperature drops, the humidity levels also plummet. And when you are going to turn the heating unit on, it is going to further strip the moisture from the air.
Dry winter air can cause various health issues like an increase in allergies, dry skin, respiratory problems, and nose bleeds. Moreover, it can also pose damage to your wooden floor, furniture, and walls.
To increase humidity in your home, you can bring in houseplants, air dry your clothes or invest in a humidifier. Here’s a detailed guide on how to combat dry winter air in your home.
6. Check Safety Alarms
Smoke alarms are one of the most important safety devices in your home. In case if anything goes wrong when heating, you need your smoke alarm to work. In order for them to perform their job, they require routine maintenance.
Not regularly checking your smoke alarms increases the possibility of their failure, and that can put you in harm’s way. So, it’s best to test your smoke alarms before the heating season starts to ensure they are working fine. If your alarm or the detector uses a battery, check if it needs replacement.
Here are top fire prevention tips every homeowner should know.
How to Delay Putting the Heat On?
Due to increasing power prices, you may be reluctant to turn on your heater until you really need it in a bid to save on bills. However, you don’t have to feel uncomfortable in your own home. Here are some steps you can take to keep yourself warm without any compromises. You can also apply these tips to make your home more energy efficient when the heating is on.
1. Let the Warmth In
To improve warmth in your home, consider opening your drapes or blinds in the morning to let the sunshine in. This will help accumulate heat during the day, and you can close them at night to retain warmth.
2. Get Thermal Curtains
Thermal curtains can trap the air between the different layers of fabric, providing an insulating effect. This means that the temperature outside will not affect your indoor environment.
3. Invest in a Room Heating Unit
Running your central HVAC system in the fall may lead to energy wastage as your whole house may not require heating. A better way to keep warm without driving up the bills is to perhaps invest in a small space heating, portable heat pump, or consider HVAC zoning.
The best part about portable heat pumps is that you can move them from one room to another when needed. It works like any other heat pump by drawing in heat from the outside air, then circulating it inside. You can also pair it with a smart AC controller such as Cielo Breez to maximize comfort and savings.
4. Layer Your Clothes
Putting on some extra layers is an obvious way to regulate your body temperature and stay warm without a heater. A sweater or a cardigan can definitely keep you comfortable on chilly fall evenings, allowing you to save the big switch for a later date.
5. Use Floor Rugs
Floor rugs have long been valued as an aesthetic element, but beyond their decorative function, they serve a practical purpose, helping to minimize heat loss. Floor rugs work by trapping tiny pockets of air between the rug fibers, slowing down the flow of heat from one side of the rug to the other. So, invest in a thick rug with a high stitch count; your feet will surely thank you.
6. Make Use of Draft Stoppers
Using a draft stopper at the bottom of the doors and windows is one of the simplest ways to keep your home warm. This prevents cold air from seeping into your home.
What if Your Heating Unit Doesn’t Turn On?
Sometimes, when you turn on your heating unit after a long summer, it doesn’t function properly. Here are some troubleshooting tips to help you deal with heating problems:
Check Your Thermostat – One common issue why your thermostat isn’t working is lack of power. If your thermostat is battery-powered, try replacing the batteries. For hardwired systems, check the circuit breaker and reset it if it has tripped. Also, check for blown fuses and call an HVAC technician for replacement if that’s the case. If that doesn’t solve the issue, try resetting your thermostat.
Clean Your AC Filters – The AC filters need regular cleaning for efficient performance. If you haven’t inspected them before turning the heater on, your unit may have trouble functioning properly.
Cielo Breez smart AC controllers for ductless units can track your air filter status based on your heat pump usage and notify you when it’s time to clean.
Check Your Outdoor Unit – When your heating unit isn’t used during the summer, dirt and debris can get stuck in the outdoor unit and cause issues. Clean the outdoor unit before turning the on unit. Also, trim vegetation around it to prevent leaves or twigs from getting inside.
Remove Obstructions – Move furniture pieces that are blocking the vents so there is no airflow issue and warm air can easily circulate around. Also, ensure your thermostat is not behind a curtain or a furniture piece, as this blocks airflow, leading to incorrect temperature measurements.
Deciding to Turn on the Heater
If you are wondering when it’s time to start warming up in the fall, just keep in mind that there is no hard-and-fast rule for when to turn on the heater. Whether you choose to leave it off until temperatures drop significantly or turn it on as soon as fall hits is a personal decision that depends on your specific situation. If you are looking to save some bucks before the freezing weather, you can delay turning on the heat by letting the sun in, weatherizing your home, or sliding into a cozy blanket. And once you have decided that it’s time to crank up the heat, be sure to invest in smart climate control devices to keep your heating bills in check without compromising on your comfort.