When winter rolls around and the weather starts to cool, the first thing most people do is reach for the thermostat. Unfortunately, turning up the heat may also result in turning up your gas bill, sometimes to some pretty surprising costs. It’s difficult to manage finances year-round, but it always gets tougher in the cold winter months when your heating bills climb and you tend to spend more time at home. You may be able to save some money, however, by replacing that old, inefficient heating system you’ve had since you moved in to your home.

It’s shocking to think about how much money an old heating system can cost you, while a properly working heater, working at the optimal level, can actually save you money and keep your home the comfortable haven you deserve. Plus, there are many indicators that your heating system may not be working correctly. If you hear noises coming from the system, that can be an indication that something is wrong. The same can be said if there’s an odd smell coming from the heating vents. If you have any concern that your heating system isn’t working correctly, make sure to call in a professional, as you don’t want to be caught without heat on a brutally cold night.

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If you do decide that it’s time to spring for a new heating unit, be sure to look for an energy-efficient unit that can help you save money on your heating bills. Your heating bill can change drastically when you install an energy-efficient heating unit because the newer units work efficiently while you save money on your bills every month and with long-term maintenance over the life of your system. Sure, there is always the up-front investment of the new system, but that investment will prove to be worth it in the long run.

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According to Energy Star, a new, qualified heating system can cut your energy bill by more than $115, especially if your equipment is more than 10 years old or if it’s not performing efficiently. If you aren’t able to replace your old system in full, you may still be able to get some savings with smaller repairs or upgrades like adding a new programmable thermostat and having your system fully serviced. However, before you completely invest in a new heating system, be sure that you have your ducts checked as well, as those can also be the source of leaks in your home heating system.

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Lastly, if you do decide that it’s time to invest in a new heating unit, be sure that you have it professionally installed. In fact, according to Energy Star, an improperly installed unit can reduce a system’s efficiency by up to 30 percent, which pretty much negates the reason you purchased the new system in the first place. Then, once your new heating system is installed and working well, you can sit back in comfort as you enjoy your cozy home and cash savings on each monthly energy bill.

Article by Deborah Flomberg.