This past summer and fall season were unusually hectic. My oldest son was preparing to leaving for college, and my younger son was heavily involved in sports. My husband switched to a new job, and my father fell off his roof and ended up in the hospital. Along with all of that, the water heater ruptured and flooded the basement and I was dealing with squirrels in my attic. Although I tried to prepare for winter, I completely forgot to schedule preventative maintenance for my furnace. I was busy shutting down the swimming pool, putting away the patio furniture, and making sure the snowblower was ready to go. I never gave the furnace a thought until the temperature suddenly dropped. When I turned up the thermostat and started the furnace, it blew quite a bit of dust into the house. The warm air smelled like burnt hair and the system was far louder than usual. I considered contacting the local HVAC contractor for service, but I simply did not have the time. While the furnace definitely wasn’t working at its best, it managed to keep the house sufficiently warm. It ran for much longer cycles, however, and cost me a great deal in monthly energy bills. I hoped it would make it through the winter without a problem. Unfortunately, it quit during the Christmas holidays, when the outside temperature had dropped down to twelve degrees. I was forced to call for Emergency Service and pay overtime charges, which was super expensive. After the technician completed the furnace repair, I signed up for a maintenance plan.