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How to Keep Your Home Comfortable During Family Gatherings

There are basically two guarantees about entertaining: Someone will drink way too much punch, and you will spend half your time trying to adjust your furnace up or down. This year, avoid the hassle by getting your thermostat settings under control before the big day arrives. You will improve your home energy efficiency and ensure that everybody feels great the entire time.

Create Settings for Unusual Situations

Your current thermostat settings are designed to keep you warm and comfortable with normal use. When you’re hosting a cocktail party or family gathering, there are instances when you may need to change your settings. If you spend the entire day baking or running the clothes dryer, you could benefit from turning down the furnace a degree or two. Having lots of friends and family members visiting for a party will also increase the ambient heat of your home, particularly in the kitchen, dining room and living room. Plan ahead by turning down the furnace a few degrees before guests arrive, but avoid turning the furnace down too far or turning it off entirely.
As an added benefit, you will be less likely to look sweaty and disheveled when guests arrive if your home is already pleasantly cool.

Ensure Top Furnace Function

“Right before my big dinner party is a perfect time for my furnace to stop working,” said no one ever. The good news is that scheduling regular furnace maintenance is easy, quick and fairly inexpensive. Scheduling regular maintenance with a licensed professional will give you the opportunity to confirm that your furnace is still in excellent condition and ask any questions you may have about your home energy efficiency. If you got furnace service in the early fall, now may be the time to inspect your air filter and replace it if it is dirty. Pay attention to how your furnace seems to be functioning, and do not hesitate to call a heating & air conditioning repair service if you notice any problems.

Be Cautious with Alternate Heat Sources

A cold winter often makes people wonder if they ought to be using other heat sources to keep the house and guests warmer. This is particularly true if you are planning to open up less-used rooms, such as the basement, for the kids and teens. Alternative heat sources can be useful and pleasant to have while entertaining, but you should take a great deal of care when you use them.

  • Space heaters can be a burn hazard with kids and pets running around and have been found to be involved in 79 percent of fatal home heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  • If you must turn on a fire in a fireplace, keep the area clear of children, pets and anything that could catch fire. Keep the damper open until the fire is completely out, and have your chimney cleaned.

You can avoid a lot of risk and worry, and improve your energy efficiency, by creating settings for your furnace that will take better care of your heating needs and allow you to give alternate heat sources a miss altogether.

Improve Home Heating Efficiency

No matter what you do, there are probably going to be certain parts of your home that will not be as warm as other rooms. You need to do what you can to increase your overall energy efficiency. Rooms with a lot of windows are the worst culprits since glass is notoriously inefficient at slowing heat loss. Quite a bit of heat is also lost through air leaks around windows and doors. If you seal those air leaks, you can resolve the unpleasantly cold drafts you feel around your windows. When it is time for your party, discourage guests from leaving doors open as they go to and from the car to grab food or gifts. You will save some energy and keep the whole house warmer. If you have the time, install window treatments, such as shades or curtains, that will block the cold air around the windows from permeating the rest of your home.

Upgrade Your Thermostat

Planning for visiting relatives is complicated enough without having to remind yourself how to use your thermostat. If you still have a manual thermostat, you may have ease of use, but you don’t get any of the benefits of programming settings in advance. The start of the year is a great time to upgrade your thermostat, which is one of the best ways to improve efficiency and comfort in your home without a hefty investment of time or money. If you get a smart thermostat, the thermostat may be able to deduce your preferences with little input from you. Since smart thermostats have Wi-Fi capability, you can change settings on a whim from your smartphone or computer. For example, if you had a change of plans due to weather and had to come home earlier than you expected, you could change the settings so that the heat is running before you arrive home.

Consider a Zone Heating System

The bigger your home, the more you need to consider varying heating needs. You probably already know that cold storage in the basement or a wine cellar need to be kept at a specific temperature, but there are other reasons you might want to have different temperatures throughout the home, as well. Your holiday entertaining is a classic example of the benefits of zoned heating or cooling. A zoned heating system breaks up your home into various zones, with different heating or cooling needs, that can be managed by a single thermostat. Zoned heating & air conditioning would allow you to, for example, specify a higher temperature for bedrooms and bathrooms than in the main living area, where the majority of your guests are located. This way, you won’t feel like an ice cube when you walk away for a moment.

Prepare for the After-Party Cool-Down

During the festivities, your home may feel warm, possibly even uncomfortably so. But, once everyone packs up to go, the temperature may drop noticeably. Set your thermostat to increase the temperature a couple of degrees at the conclusion of your party. Plan to get comfortable with a warm blanket or a bath to help you relax while you wait for the temperature to equalize again.
Keeping your guests entertained and out of trouble is your job as a hostess. The last thing you want is to struggle with your furnace at the same time. With some forward planning, a few minor tasks for your heating system and the right thermostat settings, you will host an excellent party, beef up your home energy efficiency and go to bed happy.

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