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Heating System Tune-Ups

Though winter does not officially begin until Dec. 21, you’ve likely used your home’s heating system(s) by now considering, well, this is Nebraska! Most people assume since the equipment seemed to work fine when turn they turned the thermostat up, there is no reason to consider an annual HVAC tune-up or inspection. Before dismissing, here are a few things you may not have considered.

Safety – Above all, safety takes priority. Anything intended to produce heat for indoor comfort can pose a potential fire hazard, especially those which require fuel (i.e. natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood, pellets, etc.). To varying degrees, all these produce carbon monoxide during the combustion process and require proper ventilation. Combustion chambers and fireboxes should be inspected for any possible cracks and build-up of deposits. Other components and connections should be cleaned and replaced if necessary.

That being said, electrical heating systems and appliances are not immune to safety concerns, especially older equipment. Wiring connections can become loose or frayed. Dust and other air-borne particulates can build up on coils and cause overheating. Items can inadvertently fall into baseboard heaters and land on the heating coils. Furniture or draperies may have moved too close to units.

Efficiency – The U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR® program states that a furnace tune-up can improve your system’s energy efficiency up to 30%. During a tune-up, a professional HVAC technician can assess air distribution (i.e. ductwork) connections for significant air leaks which cause your system to operate longer than necessary and consume more energy. The outdoor components in air source heat pump systems can plug up with dirt, leaves and other debris that considerably reduces their efficiency. During a tune-up, the technician will usually replace the often-overlooked air filter. Dirty filters place additional resistance against proper airflow causing systems to run longer in order to provide comfort.

Reliability – As Murphy’s Law states: If anything can go wrong, it will. When it comes to heating systems, it seems this occurs during the coldest times of the year. In a study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources, professional service calls for heating and cooling systems are surprisingly common. More than half of surveyed households reported having their heating and/or cooling system serviced in the last five years due to failure. With yearly maintenance, you won’t have to worry about dirty gas valves, loose connections, or malfunctioning parts causing failure at inopportune times.

Affordability – According to, heating system tune-ups usually cost between $70-$200. Paying the minor cost for an annual furnace tune-up is much more cost-effective than paying for expensive repairs or replacements later. Keeping your furnace clean and maintained reduces the risk of future breakdowns or potential carbon monoxide leaks and provides a buffer against increasing energy costs.

Your local utility wants to help you stay safe and warm this winter season. They can also help you identify other ways to save energy throughout the year. For more energy-saving ideas for your home, business, or farming operation, contact your local public power utility.

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