If you have had a furnace for several years, then you might have noticed that it isn't quite as effective as it used to be. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to call in a pro. With a couple maintenance tips, you can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your heater, thereby keeping the temperature of your home high and your electric bills low.
Dust and Debris in the Furnace
First of all, you want to make sure that you are cleaning out your furnace every once in a while. To be more specific, you want to ensure that there is no buildup of dirt, dust, and debris around the furnace and ventilation entrance. Depending on where you live, dust might build up slowly or quickly, but a general rule of thumb is that once is a year is a good frequency for a general furnace cleaning.
If dust does build up, it will act like a sponge, absorbing a lot of the heat that your heater is trying to push into your home. That heat will effectively be "lost" since it won't actually contribute to heating your home. Instead, it will just make the area around your furnace a lot warmer, which could be problematic, especially if it gets hot enough to start a fire.
Too much dust will also make your heater work harder than it needs to. Your heater will try to overcompensate, because your home's thermometer will not be changing as fast as it should, resulting a heater that runs longer and uses more electricity than necessary.
Cleaning the Filter
One of the areas that you'll want to focus your efforts on is the filter, since that is where a lot of the gunk will be concentrated. Filters are meant to catch this sort of stuff and are also built to be easily cleaned. In many cases, you might need to clean your filter more often than once a year, particularly if you use your furnace a lot. During cold winter months where you want the furnace running for the majority of the day, dust can build up extremely quickly and the filter can get full fast.
You might have a disposable filter or a permanent filter, and you definitely don't want to make the mistake of throwing out a permanent filter. Disposable filters are easier to handle, since you just need to toss them and put in a replacement, but they might cost you more in the long run, particularly if you replace the filter many times.
If you have any questions about caring for your furnace or what regular services you can have professionally done, consider looking into websites of local HVAC specialists, such as http://www.coeheatcool.com, to learn more.