Electric furnaces use a specially-designed coil of wire, called a heating element, to convert electricity into heat. As cool air is exposed to the furnace’s heating element, it absorbs heat and warms up before it is distributed to the rest of your home. Although an electric furnace can convert nearly 100% of incoming electricity into heat, electric furnaces are often considered slightly more expensive to operate than oil and gas furnaces. This is because there is an extra “step” involved in the heating process.
First, your local power plant must convert fuel (typically oil, gas, or coal) to electricity; next, that electricity is brought to your home to power your furnace. By contrast, oil and gas furnaces convert fuel directly into heat, without the need to create electricity in the interim. However, many homes continue to maintain electric furnaces, while new, more efficient models continue to become available. Following a few simple tips can help you get the most out of your electric furnace for energy and financial savings this winter.
Change the Air Filter
One of the most frequent issues that arises with electric furnaces is the system turning off frequently on its own. In nearly half of all cases, electric furnaces turn off prematurely because of a clogged filter. Thus, the simplest way to prevent this issue is to make sure your furnace air filter is clean. Replace your furnace filter every 30 days with a new one, even if it does not look dirty. This will not only keep your furnace functioning properly, it will improve the efficiency of your overall HVAC system and keep your indoor air cleaner.
Clean the Blower
The other reason your electric furnace may be turning off prematurely is a dirty or damaged air blower. Electric furnaces use a blower to move cool air across the heating elements during the heating process. Keeping this blower clean will reduce the likelihood of problems and maintain efficient heating for lower utility costs.
Before you attempt to access the blower, first shut off the power to your furnace at your circuit breaker and unplug the furnace. Check your user’s manual to find where the blower sits—you may need to remove an access panel on your furnace to reach it. Once you have access to the blower, clean away any dirt and dust with a small brush or cleaning toothbrush. Use your vacuum hose attachment to remove any dirt you have removed and wipe the entire assembly clean with a dry cloth. Avoid using water to clean your blower, as it can cause electrical problems. Once your blower is clean and free of dust, replace the entire assembly before plugging the furnace in and restoring power.
Although replacing your filter and cleaning your blower are two simple steps you can take to maintain your electric furnace and keep it running efficiently, larger tasks should always be completed by an HVAC professional in Columbus. If you are having trouble with your electric furnace, visit our website to schedule an appointment or read more about troubleshooting your furnace and air conditioner on our blog.