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BrookeChaplan posted a blog entry in Brooke Chaplan's Green BlogStaying warm throughout the cold winter months would be a serious challenge without the function of your home’s heater. As beneficial as your furnace may be at keeping the chill out of your indoor air, relying heavily on your furnace as a source of heat can create outrageous energy bills throughout the season. The good news is that there are several essential steps that you can take to reduce heating costs while still staying warm and cozy indoors. Schedule Preventive Maintenance In order to function as efficiently as possible, your furnace must be well-maintained. However, heavy and frequent use from last winter may have taken a toll on the equipment. Parts may be wearing out or dirty. Hoses may be loose, and other issues may be present. These may all cause the system to work harder than it otherwise would need to. Each fall, schedule service with a licensed HVAC technician. The technician can clean all heating components, replace worn out parts and otherwise restore the system to like-new condition. Adjust Your Thermostat Your programmable thermostat may currently be set for summer weather. When you turn the AC off and the heater on, you should adjust the programmable settings accordingly. For example, you may have the AC settings slightly higher in order to avoid draining energy in the warm weather season. If you maintain this higher setting in the winter, your heater will turn on more than necessary. Seal Doors and Windows Your HVAC system will also work more efficiently if the doors and windows are properly sealed. These seals are exposed to the elements year-round so they can deteriorate rapidly. Even if you cannot see moisture or sunlight through these features, do not assume that they are not damaged. Tiny leaks throughout the seals can have a major impact on energy costs. Include resealing doors and windows in your regular home maintenance schedule. In addition to taking these steps, you may also wear an extra layer of clothes in the house or sit under a blanket on the sofa. Drinking warm tea or cocoa can also help you to feel warmer and reduce your reliance on your heater. While each of these tips may only have a modest impact on energy costs, the cumulative effect of all of them can be astounding. You can schedule HVAC service and reseal doors and windows before cold weather arrives, and you can immediately implement the other tips when you turn your heater on for the first time.