Your best defence against the cold this season is to make sure your heating system is up to the task. I’ve spoken a lot about the types of heat you can use to warm up the home: electric, geothermal, gas, and more. But I get a lot of questions from homeowners about their central heating systems, along with their concerns about their indoor air quality throughout the winter.

Your HVAC System

Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system keeps your home breathing – consider it the lungs of your house. A strong, durable HVAC system keeps your home nice and healthy throughout the year. Not only does proper ventilation help prevent mildew growth, when your home is sealed up tightly (as it tends to be during the winter), but it also ensures you’re breathing in clean, safe air. It’s important that you let your home breathe all season long.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical byproducts that are found in a lot of building supplies, products, and materials that can evaporate into your home’s indoor air for weeks, or months. Furniture, paints, carpeting, treated wood and insulation all contain VOCs that can linger in your home if it’s not properly ventilated. During the winter, we tend to keep our windows shut tight preventing the old, stale air from being replaced with new, fresh air. A good HVAC system can help regulate the air in your home, replacing the bad air with the good.

Taking Care of Your Furnace

How can you best take care of your furnace so it takes care of you all winter? One word: the filter. A lot of people think that filters were created to help clean your air, but they were actually made to protect your furnace.

A clean furnace filter will let your furnace work more efficiently, and work to protect the unit against circulating dust.

Not all filters are created equally. Some do a better job at removing toxins and allergens from the air than others. Certain filters help catch up to 93 per cent of large airborne particles, which includes dust, pollen, and mould spores. They also work to grab four times more microscopic particles like smoke, smog, and pet dander.

On average, there are two-to-five times more pollutants found inside your home than outdoors. Your furnace filters are needed to help siphon those from the air before they start to affect you. How often are you changing your filters? During the months when your furnace is working overtime, like in the winter, you will want to replace your furnace filters once a month. During the year when it sees less use, you can get away with changing it every three months.

If your filter is clogged, that means your furnace fan has to work overtime to pull in air through the filter. You’ll be making your furnace work overtime to compensate – and that means more energy output every month causing wear and tear on the unit more quickly, and a higher energy bill at the end of the month.

When Should You Get Your Ducts Cleaned?

I get a lot of questions from homeowners curious about their air ducts. Should they be getting them cleaned professionally, and how often? Your ducts will get dirty over time – that’s a fact. You shouldn’t need to have them cleaned every year, but if you’re a pet owner, have bad allergies, and most importantly, recently completed a renovation, it’s a good idea to bring in someone to clean them.

It doesn’t take a lot of time, effort, or cost to keep yourself breathing easy all winter long. Make sure you’re taking care of your furnace throughout the season and it will take care of you.

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