7 Tips for Maintaining an Electric Furnace

Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Updated January 27, 2022
A woman setting the temperature via a thermostat
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  • Cleaning out the air ducts will help minimize allergens.

  • Replacing the air filters every three months helps reduce energy costs.

  • Turning down the thermostat overnight can save you 10% on your heating bill.

  • Perform visual inspections yourself, and get a professional inspection regularly.

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Make sure your heating system stays at peak efficiency with our top electric furnace maintenance tips. Aside from quick and easy monthly cleaning, you can optimize furnace performance and save on repairs by changing the air filters, lowering the thermostat, and having a pro complete annual inspections.

1. Clean Out the Access Panels

In the fall, just before you start to use your furnace regularly, remove all the dirt, dust, and debris that builds up in the access panels with a vacuum and a long attachment. In an ideal world, do it twice a year—once in the fall and the spring.

2. Clean the Fan and Motor

While cleaning the inside of the furnace via the access panels, take the time to run your vacuum over the motor and fan. Wipe the fan blades (if accessible) with an anti-static cloth.

3. Replace the Air Filter

A man removing an air filter
Photo: Serenethos / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Staying on a schedule to change the air filters every three months helps maximize efficiency and minimize energy costs. Changing filters is a quick and easy job that reduces strain on the furnace.

If your furnace is on most of the time, your household likely generates a lot of dust. If you have a family member who is sensitive to airborne allergens, it’s a good idea to change the air filters every month. You can also check how long your filters last by reading the instructions.

4. Clean the Air Ducts

Once a month, get your vacuum with the trusty long nozzle attachment and clean the ducts. Simply remove the duct covers and vacuum inside the cavity. This gets rid of dust, dirt, and bug fragments. There are many advantages to cleaning the ducts monthly, including reducing allergens and eliminating foreign particles that can cause an obstruction.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that “Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are a primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes.” Cleaning the ducts regularly not only removes potentially harmful particles, but you’re more likely to spot something detrimental to your family's health, such as mold, and get it under control as soon as possible.

You can also opt to have your air ducts cleaned by a professional every three to five years.

5. Have Yearly Inspections

It’s important to have your furnace inspected and serviced annually to keep it in good working order. Yearly inspections usually include a basic tune-up to optimize your furnace performance. Additionally, your local HVAC technician will spot any minor issues and fix them before they become serious.

A furnace inspection costs $50 to $100 on its own, but you may be able to get it as part of an HVAC service contract, which can be a good way to save money on both heating and cooling inspections.

6. Reduce the Temperature

You might have to put on a sweater, but turning the temperature on your thermostat down by a degree or two can save you costs on your energy bill and reduce the strain on your furnace. The US Department of Energy states that lowering the thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees for the eight hours you're asleep can save you up to 10% on your annual heating bill.

You can further optimize your thermostat settings by upgrading your regular thermostat to a learning model. These units are both programmable and smart, so they can learn your routine and turn themselves down when nobody's home.

7. Upgrade Your System

If you find yourself paying multiple repair bills every year and your energy bills are climbing, it could be time to upgrade your furnace. Older units may only be at 55% to 70% efficiency. Modern electric furnaces are up to 98.5% efficient, so the cost of upgrading to a newer model is sometimes worth reducing your home’s carbon footprint and saving on energy bills.

Depending on where you live, you may also be entitled to rebates and incentives to reduce the cost of replacing your furnace. If you're unsure whether you should upgrade your system, what your best options are, or what incentives and savings are available in your area, consult a nearby HVAC installer who'll be able to advise you.

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