How Do I Keep My Heat During Extreme Cold Weather?

Cold home with an angry couple warmly clothed hugging sitting on a sofa in the living room

We receive countless calls every time the temperatures drop below normal ranges, as homeowners here in Novi encounter problems with their home’s heating system. With the record-low temperatures and extreme conditions most of the country is currently experiencing, our Harriman Heating & Air Conditioning professionals want to share some insights and tips with you to keep your indoors cozy while Old Man Winter blusters away outdoors.

Three Heating System Insights

Here are a few insights into your heating system’s operation during freezing weather:

1. Furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps were not designed for temperatures in the -20 to -30 degree Fahrenheit (and below) range—they were designed for outdoor temperatures dipping to 0 degrees. 

And when you have windchills near the -50 degree mark, as we have right now in this cold snap in locations across the country, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is going to work much harder than usual. Keep in mind you cannot expect it to perform normally, and you may run into some problems with it.

2. Even though your heating system is working at full capacity, if your Michigan home is newer, your HVAC system may still struggle to maintain your designated temperature and may not always succeed. 

If your home is older, your system will not be able to maintain the temperature, and it will drop. Expect to bundle up a little more. This will not only help your heating system, it can save you between 5 and 20 percent on your heating bill as well, according to Money magazine.

3. If you discover your home’s temperature dropping, but your vents are blowing hot air or your boiler’s radiators are still hot, this is simply due to the extreme outdoor temperatures. Just continue to be sure your heating system is operating.

What Are Some Heating System Tips?

Be sure to stay safe by using common sense in these frigid temperatures. These are the type of outdoor conditions that tempt homeowners to take unwise and unsafe steps, with avoidably tragic results like fires or carbon-monoxide poisonings.

Here are some of our best heating-system tips:

  • Increase your home’s temperature by a couple degrees above your normal setting now, before the worst hits, and then leave your thermostat alone. Do not turn it back down at night. In this extreme cold, your heating system will struggle to return to where you originally had it set.
  • Set your programmable thermostat on HOLD once you have raised the temperature. You can return it to its normal mode once outdoor temperatures rise.
  • Replace your filter, if you have a furnace. Ideally in the winter months, especially during these ultra-cold spells, you should change the filter monthly.
  • Be sure your ceiling fans are on to keep the warm air moving, if they have the reverse setting for colder months.
  • Set up one room in your home to be the warmest room, if need be. Close any blinds or drapes to keep warmth in, and put blankets over your windows using your curtain rod to reduce window-heat loss.
  • Check all registers/air vents and radiators are clear of any obstructions or blockages. Keep furniture away to allow best airflow.
  • Keep your garage doors closed.
  • Avoid repeatedly opening/closing exterior doors.
  • Continually check your furnace’s or boiler’s intake and exhaust white PVC pipes outdoors (on the back or side of your home) if your system is a 90 percent or more efficiency unit. It’s extremely common for ice to build up in these with the low temperatures or snow to block the openings from all the blowing. Keep the pipes clear for successful airflow. Push a broom handle in the pipe to break up any internal ice; however, if your pipes are located on your roof, do not go on your roof to clear them.
  • Keep your outdoor condenser clear of snow if you have a heat pump.
  • Help to heat your home with some cooking or baking—or even just boiling water. It gives extra humidity and warm temperatures to your indoor air. Under no circumstances should you ever heat your home with your oven, stove, or grill, as this is extremely dangerous.
  • Be sure to keep your cupboard doors open where your plumbing is located to allow your heat to keep your pipes warmed. The last thing you want is frozen or burst pipes. In these extreme temperatures, keep all your indoor faucets on a constant trickle with room-temperature water. This also helps to prevent frozen or burst pipes.
  • Check on neighbors or anyone elderly in this freezing weather to be sure they are safe and warm.

Contact Us Today for Your Heating Needs

At Harriman Heating & Air Conditioning, we want to help you keep your Novi, MI, home comfortable in these record-low temperatures and arctic weather. Follow our tips for keeping your heating system in operation. 

If you run into any problems, please contact us at 734-271-6200 or request service online. We do have emergency service if necessary. Let’s all help each other during this biting cold weather.


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