For starters, once a year, vacuum out the area around the furnace’s blower. If possible, also slide out the fan unit, clean each fan blade with a toothbrush, and then vacuum with a brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner. While you’re at it, look for oil ports on the motor, normally located near the motor shaft. If the motor has these, apply two to three drops of non-detergent motor oil into each port (you may have to remove a cover plate to do this). Though most contemporary motors don’t require lubrication, do lubricate motors with oil ports once a year. For more about maintenance, see Maintenance Checklist for Central Heating Systems.
Gas is currently the most common heating fuel and most new central-heating systems use gas. How efficiently a furnace converts gas into heating energy is reflected in its annual fuel-utilization-efficiency (AFUE) rating, which is measured as a percentage. The higher the number, the more heat the furnace can wring from each therm of gas. Since efficient furnaces generate fewer emissions, environmental considerations might also influence your decision.
The price of a furnace generally rises in step with its fuel efficiency. A furnace with a 90 percent AFUE might cost $1,000 more than a similar size unit with an 80 percent AFUE. But you can often recoup that additional cost through lower fuel bills over the life of the furnace, especially in regions such as the Northeast and Midwest, where winters can be harsh. How quickly you recover the investment depends on more than just AFUE. The electricity to run furnaces with different AFUEs can vary significantly. The climate where you live, how well your home is insulated, and your local gas and electricity rates also affect payback times.
Cleaning the debris that builds up on your filters will aid with the flow of air. When your air filter is clogged, your air handler must work harder to compensate for the blockage of air flow. In addition to driving up your utility bill, the reduced air flow through your heating and cooling system can cause your heat exchanger to overheat and shut off too quickly.