Should I Turn Off My Gas Furnace in the Summer?

April 14, 2021

Winter has finally come to a close, and with the warmer weather coming, it’s time to put the furnace to bed. Most people consider changing their furnace filters and flipping the switch at the thermostat.

However, if you truly want to turn your furnace off, it goes beyond flipping this switch. Find out what all is involved and if it is worth it for your home.

Does Your Furnace Have a Pilot Light?

Before looking at what is involved in turning your furnace off, look for what style of furnace you have. Specifically, you are interested in understanding if your furnace has a pilot light.

This is a small gas-fueled flame that burns constantly and is used to ignite the burners when the system cycles on. However, not all furnaces have a pilot ignition system.

Rather, some systems use an electronic ignition module. The most common of these is the hot surface ignition module, which heats an element to ignite the gas. If your furnace has an electronic ignition, then there is generally no need to turn it off beyond your thermostat.

The best way to determine if your furnace has a pilot light is to look at the gas supply line. If it has a pilot light, the knob on the supply valve will have OFF/ON/PILOT. If it does not, then it will simply have OFF/ON.

Understanding How to Tun Your Furnace Off

If your furnace has a pilot light, you may want to consider turning it off further. A steady pilot light burns gas continually, albeit a very small amount. This means that even when you are not using your furnace, the pilot light will still burn.

When we think about turning off your furnace, really, what we are talking about is turning off the pilot light. To accomplish this, you simply turn off gas servicing the pilot light, which is the same gas that fuels the furnace.

Even if you have an electronic ignition furnace, you can turn off this fuel valve. However, there is not as much benefit without a pilot continually running.

Benefits of Turning Your Gas Furnace Off

If you turn off your gas furnace over the summer, you will experience a few possible benefits. The primary benefit most people are after is the financial savings from using less gas.

Some estimates suggest that you can expect to save about $50 over the course of the summer months by turning the gas off. However, this is dependent on the cost of gas and your particular furnace.

Using gas creates a carbon footprint, both from actually burning it and from its production. When you turn your furnace’s pilot light off over the summer, you reduce your overall carbon footprint.

There is also the risk of accidentally turning on your furnace over the summer. If you shut off the gas supply line, regardless of whether you have a pilot light or not, you remove the possibility of accidentally cycling it on.

Cautions of Turning It Off

There are some cautions to exercise if you decide to turn off the gas to your furnace over the summer. First, understand that if you turn it off, you will have to turn it back on and relight the pilot light. Depending on your furnace type, trying to relight your furnace can be challenging.

Second, you have to remember that you have turned off the gas. It is not uncommon for our team to receive service calls when a furnace will not light because the gas was turned off.

Finally, if you are going to turn the gas off, you need to be comfortable knowing that you are messing with a gas valve. Gas, properly controlled, is a great fuel for heating. However, it can be very dangerous if improperly managed, so it is best to leave it alone if you are uncomfortable.

If you do decide to turn the gas off, you may not have to relight it yourself. During a regular maintenance visit, a technician should clean your pilot light. To do so, they will have to turn it off, which means relighting. If it is already turned off, you have just helped them with one step of the process.

Performing seasonal maintenance ensures your furnace is ready for the winter and extends its service life. Jeffries Heating & Air + Plumbing is the trusted provider of furnace maintenance for residents around Somerset. Our team also provides heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repairs. Call us to schedule a maintenance visit with one of our expert technicians today.

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