Almost half of all families in the United States use alternate heating sources in place of or in addition to a furnace. However, heating equipment can be dangerous if not used properly. Whatever methods you choose to heat your home this winter, take the following precautions to stay both warm and safe.
Use the right equipment.
Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used.
Inspect your furnace.
Check annually to ensure controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition and the flue pipe and pipe seams are well supported and free of cracks.
Replace your filter.
Replace or clean your furnace filter about four times per year. A new filter makes your furnace more energy-efficient and saves money.
Set up annual service.
Have your furnace cleaned and checked by a professional every year. The older the furnace, the more important this service is. Newer gas furnaces are equipped with many features that shut the furnace off when a problem is detected. Older furnaces don't have this.
Clear some space.
Keep all potential sources of fuel such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from your furnace, space heater, stove or fireplace.
Check register vents.
Be sure at least 80% of the registers in your home are open. If you close too many off, you may get unnecessary heat buildup in the furnace.
Be cautious of carbon monoxide.
Virtually every gas furnace produces some carbon monoxide, but an inefficient or dirty furnace can produce deadly amounts. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas which can cause flu-like symptoms, disorientation, confusion and even death.
Use safety with space heaters.
If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard non-flammable surface at least three feet from anything that may burn. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over, and never leave them on when you're sleeping or away.
Follow fuel guidelines.
Make certain you follow manufacturer recommendations and use the right kind of fuel for fuel burning space heaters.