Brace yourselves. Winter is coming. While this may be the time to binge watch our favorite television series and movies, it’s also the time to properly prepare our homes, and minds, for winter. Take advantage of the bit of Indian Summer we have left to ensure your furnace is running properly, safely and as energy-efficiently as possible. Here are 10 tips that may help you avoid inconvenient breakdowns and costly repairs in the midst of the season.

Change filters regularly

Regularly checking your filters for dirt and debris and replacing them often will help keep your furnace running smoothly and efficiently.

Monthly filter replacements are recommended but the necessity of a replacement is dependent on the size of your home as well as the use of your furnace. It is good practice to check your filters monthly and replace once you see a buildup of dirt and debris. At the very least, every three months.

Running your furnace with a dirty or clogged filter increases the time your furnace needs to heat up your house and will ultimately raise your electric bill.

Stock up on filters

Because the demand is low, many places run bargain deals on filters during summer months. Stock up on filters now and easily replace filters when the time comes during upcoming winter months.

Beat the rush

Run your furnace now to confirm that it is in working order. If you’re due for a routine check-up or notice your furnace isn’t operating as it should, schedule repair now to prepare for the season in which your furnace will be in use the most.

Clean your air vents and ducts

Check both your vent’s interior and exterior for debris, clutter and furniture. To ensure the hot air from your furnace is moving freely and to avoid the risk of fire, remove all obstructions including boxes, furniture even toys or other small items that may have fallen into the vents.

You can remove the vent cover with a screwdriver and hose down or vacuum to remove dust and dirt.

Clean air vents and ducts will also prevent your system from overworking itself and may help to avoid future repairs and maintenance.

Seal air ducts                    

Properly sealing and insulating air ducts will keep your furnace operating efficiently will ultimately cut down on your energy bills. When your furnace is in full use – every saved penny counts!

Check external vents                                                                                       

 Inspect the exhaust flue outdoors to ensure it is free of obstructions such as leaves, branches and/or animal nests.

Bleed your valves

If you have a hot-water radiator, bleeding your valves will help you to avoid frozen pipes. Simply open the valves slightly and close them again when water starts to appear.

Refill gas                                                                                                                                   

If you have a gas furnace, contact your gas company to refill gas levels. Not only will you be better prepared for winter months but you will save on gas prices.

Check the fan belt                                                                                                 

The blower belt, or the fan belt, is one of the most important operating components to your furnace. Check the belt for tension and inspect signs of wear. If the belt is loose, your furnace will take more time to heat your rooms, and you will be using more power or gas.

Consider installing a programmable thermostat                                                         

If your budget allows for it, consider installing a programmable thermostat which will run more efficiently and help save money on your energy bills. This device will automatically change to the pre-set temperatures you’ve chose for various conditions. For instance, you can program the thermostat to increase the temperature during bedtime, and have it lowered automatically when you leave the house.

These tips are a great start, but keep in mind that you should contact a professional if you aren’t familiar with how your heating system works.

Keep your furnace clean, and replace equipment as needed. With proper maintenance, your furnace will work more efficiently, and save you money on expensive energy costs. We have included a great offer from our advertising partner Comfortworks to make this easy for you.

The preceding article is sponsored by The Waterworks.  The opinions and views expressed belong to its sponsors and are not those of Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc., this station or their affiliates or employees.