If you're trying to save money on your utility bills (or just help the environment), then a great way to start is by turning your thermostat down when you aren't at home. Unfortunately, putting this into practice means waiting for your house to heat back up when you get home. Even if you use a smart thermostat to turn the dial up remotely, you may still find yourself waiting just a bit too long.
While it's tempting to give up altogether and keep your heat cranked, slow heating is often a sign that something else is wrong. If your furnace seems to be taking forever to achieve a comfortable temperature, it may be due to one of these three causes.
1. You're Turning Your Thermostat Too Low
Everything in your home absorbs some amount of heat, from your walls and furniture to the air. If you're turning your thermostat off when you leave the house, then you may be allowing for too much heat loss. Try turning your thermostat down by no more than 10 degrees when you leave your home so that it doesn't have to work so hard to get back to your desired setpoint.
If adjusting your usage doesn't help, or if your furnace seems to struggle to raise your temperature even a few extra degrees, then it's time to move on to additional possible causes.
2. Your Furnace is Short Cycling
When it comes to heating and cooling, cycling refers to your equipment's running time. Typical single or double-stage furnaces will not run continuously but instead cycle several times per hour. Most furnaces should run for at least ten or fifteen minutes when your house is cold, and shorter cycles can increase heating time and may indicate an underlying problem with the furnace.
Since short cycling can have many causes, it's best to consult with a professional HVAC technician for diagnosis. Common faults include poor thermostat placement, failing flame sensors, or overheating issues. Dirty air filters can cause overheating, so replacing your filter is an excellent first step if your furnace is short cycling.
3. Your Flame is Weak
Modulating furnaces can adjust their flame intensity, but most furnaces burn a set amount of fuel and oxygen. Gas or oxygen supply issues can result in incomplete or inefficient combustion, weakening the furnace's heating ability. In these cases, you'll often notice lukewarm or cool air from your vents. Your furnace will cycle normally, but each cycle will be insufficient to increase the temperature in your home.
Weak flames may be due to restrictions at the gas line or problems with the furnace's air intake. If the situation becomes severe enough, your burner may fail to light altogether.
If you are having trouble with your furnace, furnace repair may be your next move. Contact a local HVAC company for more information.