LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It’s starting to get colder in the Las Vegas Valley, and with lower temperatures can come higher utility bills and the risk of health hazards related to your home’s heating system. 8 News Now spoke with Stephen Gamst, a manager at Goettl, for some tips on saving money and staying safe in this chilly weather.
Gamst told us about three simple things to look for in your house: your thermostat temperature, checking your ductwork for leaks, and keeping an eye out for carbon monoxide.
“Maximizing efficiency, for starters, it’s where you set the thermostat,” Gamst said. “I always recommend in heating mode, 69 (degrees) is where I’m comfortable at. It’s a good OK temperature, not too cold.”
He said you should find a temperature you’re comfortable with, then leave the thermostat alone.
“Going up and down (with the temperature setting) constantly messing with it is going to strain it even more and raise the power bill,” he said.
Gamst took us up into the attic, where most furnace units are located, to show what proper sealing should look like on ductwork.
“As you can see, this duct here attaching to the plenum (the part of the furnace that connects to the duct) is completely sealed with a duct sealant, and so is the coil to the plenum,” he said. “When you go in your attic, and you see seams without this, it could be leaking.”
Why is proper sealing so important?
Say your home’s air intakes – the ones that you replace the filters for every three months – are sucking up 2,000 cubic feet per minute, or CFMs, of air into the duct system. If the ductwork isn’t sealed correctly, that air will escape from it while it’s being heated to warm your home.
Let’s say 200 CFM of air is escaping through the ductwork, going into the attic and out of your home. When the heated air is blown back into your home, that’s a net of 1,800 CFMs of air being put back into its interior. This means your home is now under negative air pressure, according to Gamst.
“So if you have a home and you’re sucking the air out, what do you think happens?” he said. “The home then has to bring air back in.”
This air is sucked back into your home through doors, windows, or any un-insulated part of the house.
“That is where dust, allergens, and generally things that cause allergy symptoms come from, leaky ductwork, allowing stuff to be pulled into the home,” Gamst said.
Finally, Gamst said to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide. CO is an invisible and odorless byproduct of gas appliances, like furnaces and water heaters, that can cause minor to severe health problems. The gas is generally forced out of your home by a motor on these appliances, but wear-and-tear can cause the gas to escape into the home.
“Have a carbon monoxide detector installed down low because it’s heavier than air,” Gamst said. CO detectors can be purchased at many retail stores and online shopping websites.
CO can poison you slowly, causing headaches and lack of energy, among other symptoms. While Gamst says people don’t typically die in the U.S. from CO poisoning due to it escaping via leaks in the home, he stresses the importance of having your appliances checked regularly by professionals.
“Have your equipment constantly serviced at least once a year to make sure there are no breaches in those chambers,” he said.