Once the warm weather works its way into Drexel Hill, it is easy to forget about your furnace. Sure, you may set the thermostat to air conditioning, but does that really turn off your furnace? Does it really matter if you do more than flipping the thermostat setting?
What It Means To Turn Off Your Furnace
When it comes to turning off your furnace, most people just think about the thermostat. Depending on the type of furnace you have, that may in fact be the only element to turning it off for the season.
However, some furnaces, especially older models, have an ignition source that continually uses a little bit of gas. If you have this type of ignition source, then you will continue using gas throughout the warmer months.
When it comes to truly turning off your gas furnace, it actually means turning the gas fuel off as the control valve. However, not every furnace needs this, and it can be a pain if you do not know what you are doing.
How Gas Furnaces Light
Whether you need to turn off your furnace is dependent on the type of ignition system your unit uses. There are three primary types: steady pilot, electric hot plate, or electric intermittent pilot.
The steady pilot is what most people know as the pilot light. This is a small flame that continues to burn as long as gas is being supplied to the unit. The pilot light keeps the system ready to cycle on whenever it receives the signal from the thermostat.
Most modern mid- and high-efficiency furnaces use electronic ignition. The electric hot plate uses electricity to warm a heating element. When it gets to enough, it signals the gas to start and ignites it.
The intermittent pilot uses a pilot light, but it only comes on at the start of the furnace cycle. An electric spark igniter starts the pilot light, which then lights the burners.
Checking To See What Kind of Furnace You Have
The easiest way to know whether you have a steady pilot or not is to look at the gas control valve on your furnace. It should have OFF/ON stamped on it. If it also has PILOT on it, you know you have a steady pilot system.
If you have an electric system, there is little benefit to turning the gas off over the summer. You can simply change the setting on your thermostat and be done. However, if you do have a steady pilot light, you may want to consider turning the gas off.
Benefits of Turning Off Your Furnace Gas Supply
If you have a steady pilot light and let it burn all summer, you are burning gas with no benefit realized. Some estimates put the financial cost of this at around $50 for the summer months, depending on gas prices. Turning off your unit’s gas supply means at a minimum you reduce your energy bills just a little each month.
However, using natural gas increases your carbon footprint. It produces carbon when you burn natural gas as well as when the gas is mined. When your turn off your gas supply at your furnace, you reduce your environmental impact.
There is also the risk of someone accidentally turning the furnace on over the summer. While this is only a minor concern for most people, shutting the gas supply off will completely prevent it.
Things to Consider Before Turning Off the Furnace
Before you run to your furnace and shut it off, there are a few things to consider. First, if you turn your pilot light off, you will need to light it again. Your technician should clean your pilot light as part of your fall tune-up and may be able to relight it for you.
Also, if you have an older furnace, there is always a risk of a valve malfunction. So if you decide to turn off the gas supply, check to ensure that the pilot has actually gone out.
Regardless of what you do over the summer, regular maintenance is the best way to prepare your furnace for winter. O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning has been the trusted source for heating maintenance and repair around Drexel Hill for over 60 years. People have also relied on us for expert air conditioning installation, maintenance, and repair along with indoor air quality solutions. Call to schedule your furnace tune-up early so that you are ready this fall.