As the weather warms up, it is time to put your gas fireplaces and furnaces to rest for the summer. Since it will be several months before you need to fire up the heat again, it is worth considering turning off your system’s pilot light.
Deciding to Turn it Off or Keep it On
Turning off the pilot lights on gas fireplaces and furnaces when not in regular use can save energy and money. First, your pilot light burns gas, costing you money and potentially eating up the surrounding area. If you switch your pilot light off, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to reverse the heating effect of the pilot light.
Your furnace only uses a small amount of gas to power the pilot light. Turning the pilot light off, only saves a few dollars each month. If you don’t mind spending a few cents a day, don’t mess with it. However, as utility costs continue to rise, you may decide every dollar saved is worth it.
Reasons to Leave Your Pilot Light On
Trying to decide whether it is worth turning your pilot light off for summer can be difficult. Here are a few basic questions to ask yourself.
- Does my gas company charge a minimum service fee? If the gas company has a minimum monthly charge, it may be better to keep your pilot light on. Keeping your pilot light running is unlikely to burn enough fuel for you to exceed the minimum charge. You probably won’t see any savings on your summer gas bills if you don’t meet the minimum charge.
- Do I know how to relight my pilot light? Cold weather often returns unexpectedly. If this happens, you will want to relight your pilot light immediately so you have access to heat. During cold weather, it may take a few days for a technician to make it to your house to professionally relight the pilot.
- Is my furnace located where insects could easily move in? If your furnace is located in a basement or other dark secluded spot, turning off your pilot light could seem like an invitation for them to set up house in your furnace. In this case, leaving the pilot light burning is probably in your best interest.
- Do I plan on scheduling regular fall maintenance? If you are committed to scheduling fall maintenance, so that a professional can check the state of your equipment, including your pilot light, you may consider switching it off.
Other Ways to Save on Utilities
If you decide turning of your pilot light isn’t worth the hassle, there are still other ways to save energy during the summer. Here are a few ideas to save money this summer.
- Turn your thermostat up a few degrees. Energy.gov reports that adjusting your thermostat by only a few degrees will allow you to see an energy usage reduction of 5 to 15 percent on your annual bill.
- Use blinds and curtains. By covering your windows, especially south-facing windows, to block out hot sunlight, you can lessen the amount of heat that enters your home.
- Install a smart thermostat. You can program a smart thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature to be cooler during the hours that you are home. Customize the settings to keep temperatures comfortable for sleeping or watching television with a higher setting for when you aren’t home. This will offer you significant savings over the course of the summer.
- Schedule spring maintenance with a qualified technician. Professional maintenance will ensure your entire unit is functioning properly and efficiently. Call your local technician to schedule an AC tune-up before the heat gets extreme.
Turning Off Your Pilot Light
If you decide you still want to switch off your pilot light for the summer, it is a fairly simple process.
- Determine whether your fireplace or furnace actually has a pilot light. Some systems don’t have a pilot light that constantly burns.
- Locate the flame. Before you switch off the pilot light, be sure to locate the flame. This will make relighting it much easier when the time comes.
- Turn off the light. Often, turning off the pilot light is as simple as turning a knob to “off.” For other systems, you may have to push a small lever out of the way in order to turn the knob. Whatever you do, don’t force the knob. This could result in costly repairs. If you have trouble switching it of, leave the light alone or call a qualified technician for assistance.