Although it’s the beginning of April, the outside temperature remains chilly. The furnace is still working hard to keep the home nice and warm. I am looking forward to finally shutting it down and opening some windows. I’m tired of paying such high monthly energy bills and breathing in the same stale air. I realize, however, that even when the furnace is no longer heating the home, I can’t completely forget about it. At the end of the heating system, I always make sure to complete a series of tasks to ensure the furnace is ready again when needed. I know a clogged air filter forces the furnace to work harder to pull air through the system. This results in longer heating cycles, higher energy use, and more wear and tear on components. It also decreases comfort and increases the chances of a costly repair. During the winter, I change the air filter every month, and I end the season with a clean filter. I hire a local HVAC contractor for a thorough inspection, cleaning and adjustment of the heating system. The technician identifies any small issues and corrects them before they turn into a costly breakdown. I have a modern condensing furnace which generates a great deal of heat by using minimal fuel. It requires an external intake pipe for the air supply. If this pipe becomes restricted or blocked, the furnace’s efficiency is affected and there’s the worry of carbon monoxide buildup. I check to be sure the intake and exhaust pipes on the exterior of the home are free of ice, snow, bugs, bird nests and other debris.