Especially when the colder months of the year come knocking, homeowners know better than to forget to ensure that their home heating systems are fully functional. A winter night or even a winter day without reliable heating can be one of the most humiliating experiences you can ever face. In most parts of the US, the furnace is one of the most popularly used heating systems, along with others such as boilers, heat pumps and combined HVAC systems. But let’s face it, whether warm your home up using a gas, oil, or electric furnace, you can’t look the other way as far as your monthly heating bills are concerned. When your furnace encounters some challenges and malfunctions, the furnace repair bill is another cost you just can’t help but incur.

If it breaks down too often, then it becomes a huge concern to worry about. Just like with other HVAC systems, your furnace requires regular maintenance for it to stay in good condition and maintain its efficiency. These include some tasks that you can DIY such as filter changing and cleaning, as well as an annual professional tune-ups and maintenance checks, in which case you incur a maintenance cost. But in general, how do you keep these costs down, especially when it comes to your monthly utility bills from heating? Below are some tips you might want to look at on how to lower your furnace bill.

1. Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Furnace
One of the best ways to save money on your furnace energy bill, maintenance, and repair costs is to install a high-efficiency model, especially if your current heating unit is 10-15 years or older. As the furnace gets older, it's efficiency almost automatically decreases. Additionally, thanks to modern technology, high-efficiency furnaces are now available in the market. Furnace efficiency is expressed in terms of AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency ratings, which represents the amount of energy a furnace converts into heat (output) as compared to the amount it consumes. For a new unit during furnace replacement, look for a unit with an AFUE rating of 90% and above. Altitude Comfort Heating and Air has an extensive article on how to avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous furnace repair companies.

2. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Regardless of the kind of thermostat you use for your heating equipment you can realize some savings by lowering it a bit when there’s no one in the house during the heating season. The rule of thumb is also to set your thermostat to about 68 degrees, which is a temperature fair enough to maintain a comfortable indoor environment during the heating season. The good thing about installing a programmable thermostat is that you can set it to automatically raise or lower (regulate) your home's temperature of heating levels from the furnace. You will end up lowering your furnace heating bill by approximately 12%, according to Brett Martin, popularmechanics.com author.

3. Ensure Prompt Repairs and Maintenance
A poorly maintained furnace will, in most cases, consume more energy when running. The same case applies to one where certain repairs are neglected. To save lower your furnace bill significantly, always ensure you work with a professional HVAC contractor for an expert furnace tune-up and call for furnace repair as soon as possible.

4. Clean and Replace Air Filters
The accumulation of dirt and debris in air filters is another reason why furnaces end up working harder and spending more energy to run. Depending on the type of air filters your furnace is equipped with, monthly cleaning or replacing them every month is recommended to keep your unit’s efficiency at par.

5. Clean Your Air Ducts
Clogged and dirty ductwork can also contribute to low energy efficiency in furnaces. This is because the obstruction caused by dirt, mold, dust, and other debris particles in duct work make it harder for the furnace to circulate heated air freely throughout your home, ending in a struggling furnace that consumes more energy than it should. Professional duct cleaning can significantly increase your unit’s energy efficiency and lower your furnace bill by a surprising margin, along with other benefits such as improved airflow and improved air quality.

6. Prevent Heat Loss (Sealing and Insulation)
Last but not least, you can also improve your furnace energy efficiency by minimizing the amount of heat that escapes from your home to the outside environment. This can be done by ensuring that all cracks are sealed, ductwork sealing, and insulation. When your furnace is running, it is also a wise idea to always ensure that your home’s doors and windows are properly closed to prevent the loss of heat.

Author's Bio: 

Author, Freelance writer