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If your furnace isn’t working correctly, it can make for a cold Colorado winter. A thorough furnace inspection is best left to a professional if you’re not familiar with furnaces and all that could be causing a malfunction. 

There are a lot of basic furnace maintenance tricks and tasks most renters and homeowners can and should do on a regular basis that could dramatically improve the performance of your home heating system.

Don’t neglect the furnace filter

If you have been browsing the Energy Resource Center website, there’s no doubt you have come across this nugget: “Clean or replace your furnace filter regularly.”

This is essential. It’s the single thing you, as a homeowner or renter, can do simply and cheaply to make the biggest difference in winter heating expenses. It’s one of those things most people don’t think about and often don’t even realize they should be doing.

Why the filter is important

A dirty furnace filter will strain your system. It takes more energy for your furnace to pump warm air through a clogged filter than through a clean one, driving up your heating expenses.

When filters are particularly filthy, they can cause your furnace to operate at a much lower efficiency, causing your house to feel extra cold even when the heat is running.

Continuing to use a furnace with a dirty filter can shorten the life of the appliance.

How often do you change or clean the furnace filter?

  • Inexpensive fiberglass filters are cheap and easy to replace, but should be checked once a month when you’re using your furnace during the winter or forced air cooling in the summer.
  • Pleated filters, which can cost two to three times what fiberglass filters cost, typically last three months before needing to be changed.
  • Permanent filters should be washed once a month to prevent build up.
  • Electronic air filters usually need attention every two months.


Other maintenance

An underperforming furnace isn’t just expensive and uncomfortable, it could be dangerous — leaking carbon monoxide into your home. If you have checked your filters and your furnace is still struggling, you should have an expert look at it and diagnose issues.

The Energy Resource Center can provide free home energy audits and help income-qualified families replace or repair broken furnaces in El Paso, Teller, Fremont,  Elbert, Douglas, Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Saguache and Rio Grande counties. We can also recommend local experts and perform complete home energy audits for a fee for families who do not income qualify for free services. All fees support the ERC’s nonprofit efforts.

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