Simply put; not really. It’s a common misconception amongst many, even by some heating and cooling technicians, that your furnace is drying out your home. The operation of your furnace alone won’t make your home dry. While we’ll be the first to admit that certain types of combustion appliances in the home can be a contributing factor, it’s very miniscule and it really isn’t the sole operation of a furnace that is directly related to the dry feeling many homeowners experience at this time of the year.
So why does it feel so dry? Each home can become dry for a myriad of reasons, but the primary drivers typically fall into one of three areas.
A home that is too leaky. Homes that are leaky from an air leakage standpoint, not only cost more to operate but can become very dry, as cold and dry outdoor air is admitted into the home. Whether it be simple leaks around doors or windows, or air leaks you aren’t aware of, that cold and dry air can make you feel, well, cold and dry.
Leaky duct work. If you live in a home that has ducts traveling in an unconditioned crawl space or attic, you can be admitting cold and dry outdoor air into the home. Ducts that travel outside of the conditioned space of the home can draw in cold and dry air when your furnace is running, and when it’s off.
An over-ventilated home. If you live in a newer home that has a ventilation system, that’s a good thing. Ventilation systems help us provide much needed air into the home to improve things like, indoor air quality and moisture control. Unfortunately, if you provide too much outdoor air, you can be unnecessarily increasing your bills and making your home more dry.
So what is a homeowner to do? First, if you live in a home that feels cold and leaky, it may be time to make some minor improvements to the home. Sealing up your home with items like weather stripping, caulking, and a little foam can make vast changes. If you’ve already done these items, or you feel your home may be a bigger challenge than just a tube of caulk, it may be time to consider an energy audit.
Having an energy audit can show you exactly where your home is leaking and give you insight on other areas of the home that may have a large impact on your home’s comfort and energy bills. If you have ducts outside the conditioned space of the home, consider bringing them inside. If that is simply not an option, then it would be wise to seal and insulate the ducts which travel beyond the conditioned space.
Lastly, if you have a home with a ventilation system, don’t over ventilate. While easier said than done, a simple reference to your manufacturer’s ventilation manual may provide an idea if your current settings are where they should be. If you find your settings are where the manufacturer suggests, then a bit of experimenting with the settings may be just the trick.