Although this fall has been unseasonably warm, winter and bad weather is just around the corner, and all too often, homeowners ignore their heating systems, forgetting about regular maintenance until it’s time to turn the system on. Then, at the worst possible time, it breaks down and homeowners are stuck picking a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician out of the phone book while their family shivers.

Giving a heating system TLC doesn’t only guard against an unexpected breakdown, but makes the system more energy efficient and saves money. For every year of maintenance and cleaning that is skipped, the energy bill increases by 5 to 10 percent, according to House Logic.

“With the winter season around the corner, this is a reminder for homeowners to get their heating systems in optimal shape,” Tom Rusin, HomeServe USA chief executive officer, said. “Maintaining heating systems with some simple preventative measures – some of which require the assistance of a professional technician – can assure that homeowners sail through the winter without any heating system issues or costly repairs.”

HomeServe’s Winter 2017 Biannual State of the Home Survey, which looks at Americans’ preparedness for emergency home repairs and other major unexpected expenses, found 71 percent didn’t think they would have a home repair emergency over the next year, while 54 percent reported having had an emergency the year before. Having a heating system tune-up can prevent homeowners from falling into that 54 percent.

Homeowners should always hire a licensed HVAC technician with appropriate insurance to perform a tune-up, because it isn’t just about cost and convenience, it’s also about safety. Clogged flues, chimneys and filters can cause carbon monoxide to back up into the home, causing headaches, dizziness and nausea – even death. Carbon monoxide detectors can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and so can regularly cleaning out the heating system.

In addition, the technician will check and tighten any electrical connections to ensure none are faulty and a potential fire hazard, according to the Home Advice Guide. Faulty electrical connections can short out the system and reduce its lifespan. Technicians will examine gas and oil connections, making sure they are in good working order. Dirty or leaking gas or oil connections don’t only hurt energy efficiency, but are a major health hazard, according to Energy Star.

HomeServe USA established National Tune-Up Day, Sept. 25, in 2014 to remind homeowners to keep on top of needed maintenance. Homeowners are encouraged to mark National Tune-Up Day on their calendars and schedule a home heating system tune-up before it gets cold – and they discover there’s a problem.

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