April 14, 2021
Man working on furnace

If you are like most people, you probably have a love-hate relationship with your HVAC system. You love that it keeps your family warm in the winter and cool in the summer. However, you hate the bills that come with maintaining and operating it.

So you look for ways to possibly reduce that cost, especially when you do not need the service. You have heard that you can turn the gas off to your furnace and are now wondering if that may be a good idea to try. Before you start finding online videos of how to do it, consider what this means and whether it necessary for your home.

What Does It Mean to Turn the Gas Off?

When you hear about people turning the gas off to their furnaces for the summer, this is a bit misleading. Your furnace does not typically burn gas over the warm months aside from the surprise cold days in the spring and fall.

However, some furnaces have a pilot light, which allows your furnace to cycle on when appropriate. Turning your gas off for the summer actually has more to do with the pilot light. The gas comes from the same source line as the burning unit, so the cut-off switch is the same.

Keep in mind that if you extinguish your pilot light, you will need to relight it to use your system. In some cases, people forget about lighting it in the fall and end up having to make a service call to their HVAC technician. Make sure that you check if your system is turning on.

The Benefits of Turning Off Your Furnace’s Gas

When your pilot light remains lit throughout the summer, you continue to burn a small amount of gas with no benefit. While this may seem inconsequential, there are a few things to consider.

First, you are raising your energy costs. Some estimates suggest you may lower your energy costs by about $50 over the summer months by turning your gas off. These savings come simply from turning off that pilot light.

Natural gas also produces a carbon footprint, both in its production and use. If you reduce the amount you are using, then you reduce your impact on the environment.

Who Should Consider Turning the Gas Off?

Before deciding whether you should turn off your gas, look to see if you have a pilot light. The simplest way is to look at the gas valve. If it has “OFF/ON/PILOT” on it, then you know you have a pilot light.

If you do have a pilot, consider your own behavior and desire. It can be tricky to light a furnace pilot light, and if you turn it off, it will have to be relit. Will you feel comfortable trying this, or will you need to get someone to do it for you?

The cost of letting the pilot continue to run over the summer may also be a consideration. Whether you are motivated by the financial or environmental cost, you may want to turn it off.

When you get your fall maintenance, your technician should clean the pilot light to keep it working properly. This means that they will have to turn it off and relight it anyway. This also means that you have less to worry about if you schedule your fall maintenance early in the season.

What If My Furnace Does Not Have a Pilot Light?

Most modern furnaces use an electronic ignition rather than a pilot light. This means that when the furnace is not running, there is no gas flowing into the system.

If your furnace does not have a pilot light, there is little need to turn your gas off over the summer. If you are concerned about accidentally turning the furnace on, this guarantees that it will not run. Just be sure that you turn it back on before you try to light your furnace for the first time.

Ensure that your furnace is ready for the winter weather by scheduling your fall maintenance early. People around Amherst have relied on Heatwave Heating & Cooling to keep their furnaces burning warm for over 15 years. Residents have also trusted our NATE-certified technicians with heating and air conditioning installation and repairs, and we also have experience servicing ductless mini-splits, air purifiers, and tankless water heaters. Call to schedule your furnace maintenance for the fall today.

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