Should I Turn Off My Gas Furnace in the Summer?

Technician working on furnace

During the long, humid summers in Downers Grove, it’s unlikely that your gas furnace comes to mind very often. While you’re busy enjoying vacations and popsicles, though, your gas furnace still uses energy, albeit a lot less energy than it does in the winter. Since you don’t need your furnace during the summer, the obvious question is whether or not you can turn off your furnace completely until it’s cold enough to need it again. To better understand the pros and cons of this action, check out this deep dive into furnaces from Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc..

How a Furnace Works

A gas furnace uses a burner to burn either natural gas or propane. When the furnace is running, this flame heats a heat exchanger which then heats the air that passes by. However, the burner can’t start burning without an initial flame. That initial flame comes from the pilot light. Once the pilot light has started the process, the blower fan blows cool air over the heat exchanger until your thermostat detects that the room has reached the desired temperature. At that point, the furnace shuts down all of its components, except for the pilot light, which burns all the time.

The Pilot Light

On older furnaces, the pilot light has to burn continuously so that it’s always ready to ignite the burner. However, the pilot light doesn’t know when the furnace isn’t needed. Therefore, even when it’s hot outside, the pilot light still burns. This means that it continues to use small amounts of natural gas throughout the year.

At Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc., we strongly recommend turning off your pilot light if your furnace is equipped with one that burns continuously. In some cases, you can save fifty dollars or more over the course of a year. Plus, you’ll help to reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the wear and tear on your HVAC equipment. It’s important to note, though, that newer furnaces use an electronic ignition system that extinguishes the pilot light automatically when your furnace isn’t running.

How to Turn Off a Pilot Light

Extinguishing your furnace’s pilot light is fairly straightforward. However, since you’re dealing with natural gas, if you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself, it’s a good idea to call Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. to take care of the job for you. The first step is to locate the gas line that supplies your furnace. This supply line should have a shut-off valve on it. The valve may look like a lever or a knob depending on the age of the line.

You’ll want to switch the valve to the “off” position, working slowly to prevent any unexpected flare-ups. When the gas line is closed, watch the pilot light to make sure it goes out completely. Then, close your furnace and make a note to yourself to open the supply line again when the weather gets cold.

A Note About Electrical Connections

Although your furnace may draw small amounts of electricity when it’s not in us, the pros at Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. generally don’t recommend cutting power to your furnace during the summer. That’s because your furnace and air conditioner likely share some components, meaning that turning off power to your furnace could cause your air conditioner to stop working. Of course, you can always check your circuit breaker box to see how the connections are separated to understand if you can cut power to your furnace.

How to Use Less Energy During the Summer

Turning off your gas furnace during the summer is all about using as little energy as possible. If you want to save even more energy, make sure to keep the air filter on your HVAC system clean throughout the summer. A clean air filter will help prevent your air conditioner from freezing up, a condition that could result in a lack of cold air. It’s also good to have Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. inspect your air conditioner and your furnace every year to ensure that all of the components are in good condition.

Helping You Save Money in All Types of Weather

No matter the weather, the pros at Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. have one goal: to help you stay comfortable while spending the least amount of money. That’s why we offer top-notch repair, maintenance, and installation services for furnaces and air conditioners. Plus, we offer commercial services to help keep your business or other commercial facility comfortable year-round. Family-owned and operated for over 40 years, the pros at Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. are here to serve you. To learn more about making your HVAC system more energy-efficient, contact us at Fire 'n' Ice Heating & Cooling, Inc. today.

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