Easy ways to waste your heating dollar

winterToday, I saved my tenants a hundred or more dollars. This is how it happened: A couple of weeks ago, one of my tenants reported that his window sash didn’t stay up. I asked my tenants to check all their windows so that I could get all the repairs done at once. Please open and close and lock all your windows. Let me know which ones don’t work.
When I came in today, almost all the windows were unlocked. I locked them. Thus, I decreased the cold air flow significantly. My tenants are like most people. Most people don’t know that these windows are not really sealed until they are locked.
On the way out, I noticed they put their boot mat over the air intake for their furnace. This is also something most people don’t know about, until it happens to them. By covering the intake, the furnace has to work harder to get air in. The intake grate is usually bigger than the grates that the heat comes out of. They are often in hallway (which make them tempting for places to put boots.) If the furnace is blowing and the grate is not getting hot, it could be an intake grate. (It could also be a duct that is blocked off.) Blocking this grate decreases the efficiency, at least, and can cause worse problems if the air is cut off too much for too long.
This happened before. That was with the old furnace and old tenants. They had a rubberized mat over the whole intake grate. That caused the furnace to stop working. The HVAC guy showed me what they were doing and tuned up the furnace while he was here.  Problem solved. Until today.
Another side-effect of putting your boots on the intake grate is that, on rare occasions, it can make your house smell like au de roasted boot. I didn’t smell this first-hand — so it may be an urban legend — however, this is the story I heard:
There was a house that had a bad smell. Sort of briny. The family cleaned everything, but the smell persisted. Eventually, they went to get their heating ducts cleaned. The duct cleaning crew told them that they shouldn’t store sneakers on the intake grate. That was probably to source of the smell. They cleaned the ducts anyway. Afterwards, the smell was gone.
The takeaways:
  • Lock vinyl windows in the winter for better efficiency.
  • Keep mats, furniture, and shoes off the intake ducts for furnaces. The machine needs air flow to function properly.

Leave a Reply