No matter your tactic, area experts are warning residents to be sure your heating system works before the cold weather sets in for good.
Andy Kepes, service manager at Jacksonville Heating Contractors, said that residents should be sure their filters are changed before they make the switch from air conditioning to heat permanently.
“Stopped up filters aren’t good; it just makes your heating system work that much harder,” he said.
But don’t be overly concerned when you first start it up; Kepes said that not using the unit can cause dust to get on the heating strips, causing a similar situation to having crumbs on an oven burner.
“When they first come on, you get a funny smell in the house,” he said.
Kepes said that he recommends having the system serviced to be sure everything is working well — and doing so while it’s still on the warm side.
“Pick a warm day to make sure; don’t wait until it’s freezing cold weather to change it over. Go ahead and test it while it’s warm weather,” he said.
By waiting until the cold hits, residents risk causing a back log with the air conditioning and heating companies since many people call at once when it’s cold and they find their system not working.
Kepes said that the company had a back log due to the mid-week cold snap earlier this month and dusting of snow that hit the region. He expected it to take a couple days to get caught up. However, he also expected one more cold snap to take place before everyone turned their heat on.
“We haven’t hit our cold, cold weather yet,” he said.
At Bryant’s Produce in Jacksonville, owner Emmanuel Bryant, said firewood sales have been “really busy.”
Bryant said that many people began buying firewood once the cold front moved in, and some have even begun to stock up at the produce market.
He said that typically older residents buy a cord to a cord and a half of wood at a time and then buy more when they run out. Firewood is running about $90 per half-cord or $130 per cord.
Johnny McGrath, owner of J2 Landscaping in Richlands, said that he had four calls in two days about firewood and, while many will be stocking up for winter, some will simply be stocking up for evenings spent around a fire outside with friends.
McGrath warned that those going to buy firewood should always be sure to buy the type of wood they need. For example, pine wood should not be used indoors but is good for an outdoor fire. For indoors, he typically provides customers with a “good mixed hardwood.”
McGrath said that having firewood on hand is “invaluable,” and some people will get it by the truckload.
“It’s always good to have it on hand anyway because you never know,” he said.
He also said that residents should be sure to clean their chimneys regularly in order to decrease fires.
At Lowe’s in Jacksonville, the store is ready to help residents warm their homes with portable heaters, fireplace mantles and more. But Assistant Store Manager Brian Fulghum warns that residents should know the amount of space they would like to keep warm before they begin shopping.
Fulghum said that portable heaters are primarily for supplemental heat, not to heat the entire house.
“You can only run so many units on one breaker before it’ll trip,” he said.
He said those shopping for ways to warm up can look at the store’s website to get an idea before they venture into the store itself.
“Otherwise you just need to know how much space you’re trying to heat and where in the house you’re trying to do it in — is it an aesthetic thing or is it really for heat, those are the two main things you’re looking at,” he said.
For those who use propane to heat their home, Great Gas Heating and Air manager Jeff Allen recommends having the unit serviced before the cold hits.
Allen said that typically when the first cold front comes through, many users try their system for the first time since last winter and find that they are having a problem with it.
“It’s basically just being prepared and, it’s like if you have a hurricane bearing down on you, you want to make your preparations before it hits,” he said.
Allen also recommends that folks keep an eye on their propane usage to be sure they don’t run out when they’ll need it or signing up for a keep-fuel program, so the company will monitor the propane levels and fill it when necessary.