When is your furnace working it's hardest?
You know the day is coming, don't you? That bone chilling, brain freezing, face numbing cold day that sends us all into hibernation is on the way, and we all know it. We don't know when it will strike, only that it will and when it does we crank up the furnace (say a few prayers that it will start) and then let it run. Overtime. Does your furnace work harder when it's colder? Well, it depends on what you mean by work! As homeowners, it sure better be working and if it's -30 windchill, overtime is definitely a good thing! If that question is directed toward the furnace, you might be surprised by the answer.
Contrary to what many might realize, a deep cold snap can be better for a furnace than the days that are in the 30 and 40-degree temperature ranges. The reason? It's better for furnaces to operate in long sustained runs. Just like car engines, furnace motors don't like to start and stop. Have you noticed how much better gas mileage you get on the highway than in the city? That's because your car is more efficient in longer sustainable runs. It's also easier on the vehicles engine. The same is true for your furnace.
Typically, when the temperatures drop to sub-zero, your furnace is called on for longer runs than days that are cold, but warmer. For example, think about temperatures in late winter - late February and early March. Often the morning is still cold, but in the afternoon the sun is warmer, heating your home and telling your thermostat that it's plenty warm in the house. Then the sun sets and it's cold again putting the furnace back to work for the night. In this scenario the furnace is on and off multiple times in a 24 hour cycle. When the temperatures during the day remain below zero, your home is cold and your furnace is working in long consistent runs making it easier on the furnace motor.
So, this winter, when you feel like your furnace is working overtime, don't feel sorry for it. Remember that mother nature is doing it a favor by letting it run in long stretches, rather than the nagging stop and go cycles that wear down HVAC systems before their time.
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