Should I Turn Off My Furnace When I’m Not at Home?

snow on trees in michigan.

It’s one of those questions we hear a lot: should I turn off the furnace when I’m not at home?

Here at Great Dane Heating & Air Conditioning, we suggest you dial it down but keep it on.

We don’t run our cars when we’re not driving. We turn off the lights when we leave a room. Why would we leave the furnace on if we’re not there?

Keep in mind that providing heat to your Michigan home accounts for nearly half of your energy bill. To help manage those costs, we recommend an annual checkup of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system just to be sure it’s operating at peak efficiency.

Keeping Warm

The temperature in your Clinton Township home is regulated by a wall thermostat. When the thermostat detects a decrease in temperature, it switches on the heating circuit, and the furnace control board begins the ignition process.

Once the room air has sufficiently warmed, the thermostat signals the furnace to turn off. How often this cycle repeats itself depends on the temperature outdoors versus how warm you want it to be indoors.

Heat constantly escapes your home when it’s cold outdoors, which is why it makes sense to lower the thermostat when you’re not there. The closer the indoor temperature matches the outdoor temperature, the less your furnace has to run.

But turning off the furnace in the winter—especially when you’re away for long periods —runs the risk of frozen pipes that could easily burst when they thaw. Here’s where we can dial down our thermostat (commonly referred to as a “temperature setback”).

The Right Setting

It’s a popular myth that a furnace has to work harder to heat a cold house than to maintain a constant temperature. Your furnace starts running the moment your home’s temperature drops below the thermostat setting. When it’s cold outdoors, your furnace is constantly running to maintain a comfortable temperature.

We recommend keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit while you’re awake at home, and then setting it back 10 to 12 degrees when you’re away or asleep. This strategy can save you as much as 10 percent a year on your energy bill, according to ENERGY STAR®.

You may need a sweater and some extra blankets at night, but the money you save will bring warmth to your pocketbook.

If you’re going on vacation in the winter, set the thermostat to 55 degrees. Your pipes won’t freeze while you’re away, and your furnace will run less. If you’re leaving behind a dog or cat, set it to 63 degrees. Your pets will stay warm, and you’ll still save money.

What Can You Do?

Although you’re saving energy (and money) by setting back the thermostat, there’s still the inconvenience of coming home or waking up to a chilly house. Shivering is no fun.

You might want to consider purchasing or converting your traditional wood-burning fireplace into a gas fireplace, especially if you spend most of your time in a particular room. Gas fireplaces are great for quickly heating up a small area. You can turn down the furnace and crank up the fireplace to reduce your energy costs. 

Another solution is to install a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule multiple settings based on your lifestyle. The benefit here is you can schedule your thermostat to start warming up the house 30 minutes or so before you arrive home from work or wake up in the morning.

Call Us for All Your Furnace Needs

Here in Metro Detroit, we’re all about getting the most out of our furnaces during the cold weather months. Call Great Dane at 586.790.2604 or request service online to schedule a routine checkup of your HVAC system or to ask our heating professionals any questions you may have about your furnace.

Need HVAC Service?

Contact the experts at Great Dane Heating & Air Conditioning.

Call us at 586.790.2604!

Request Service