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Your Furnace in the Summer: On or Off?

Posted: June 14, 2021

heater on in summer rhode islandEvery year, as spring turns to summer and the weather heats up, many homeowners wonder: Should I shut off my oil furnace for the summer? Will that save me money?

In some cases, it makes sense to run your furnace in the summer, as we explain below. Of course, please contact us with questions if there’s anything you’re not sure about!

One note before we continue: If you have radiant floor heating, radiators or baseboards, you have a boiler, not a furnace.

Your Cooling System Relies On Your Furnace.

If you cool your house with window units, your furnace is not part of the cooling process. However, if you have an HVAC system, it may require the furnace to be running in order to function properly. Essentially, the furnace powers an outdoor compressor and AC evaporator coil. The compressor keeps the evaporator coil cool with refrigerant to remove heat and humidity from your home. With the help of the furnace’s blower, the cold air spreads from the coil and makes its way into your living space through your home’s ductwork.

If your furnace has a pilot light, it probably makes the most sense to keep it on.

Furnaces that are 15+ years old generally require a pilot light. If that goes out, the furnace doesn’t work. This is a reason to keep your furnace on, but it’s also a reason to consider an upgrade. Pilot light designs are inefficient; in fact, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings on furnaces this old are generally 56% to 70%. That’s a far cry from the latest furnaces, which have an electric ignition and operate at efficiency percentages that reach the mid-90s.

Shutting off a furnace’s pilot light for an extended time can make the system more susceptible to corrosion, and while it’s inactive it could also be a draw for insects and small animals, which would be a problem, for obvious reasons, when you start it back up in the fall. If you feel strongly about doing this, be sure to clean the furnace before putting out the pilot light, and then top off the tank so there’s no unnecessarily empty space.

Please contact us so we can help you assess what makes the most sense for your household. If you are sure you want to turn off your furnace for the summer, we encourage you to schedule an appointment for an oil burner cleaning and a delivery to your Rhode Island home.