Just after Labor Day in the greater Chicagoland area, we all start to brace ourselves for the inevitable - the onslaught of a Midwest winter. In preparation, we purchase heavy coats and boots, get snow tires for our cars, clean our flannel sheets and blankets, and take our snowblowers in for a tune-up. Often times, we overlook an important facet in the fight against the winter cold - the heating system in our home. 

Prepping your heating system for winter is simpler than you might think. Follow these seven tips to keep your home warm and cozy during the colder months: 


1. Replace air filters

This is the simplest thing you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your furnace. Dirty filters make your system work harder than necessary, resulting in lower efficiency and a higher heating bill. Air filters should be replaced every three months, and more frequently during the winter,  to avoid debris build-up and to ensure your system is running smoothly. 

2. Turn down the heat

It sounds counterproductive, but lowering the thermostat can save you money on your utility bill. Every degree the thermostat is lowered results in an average savings is two percent per month. Instead of cranking the heat, cozy up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the comforts of the season.

For even more savings, lower the thermostat even more when you're away at work. This is done easiest with a programmable thermostat. While a programmable thermostat initially costs more than a standard one, the savings in your winter heating bill pay for the cost. 

3. Unblock your vents

Blocked vents, whether by furniture or decor, not only make your furnace work harder but also can lead to overheating of your furnace. To avoid this potential hazard, make sure your heating vents are uncovered. This allows the heat to flow evening thoroughly the house, keeping you and your family warm and cozy. 

4. Seal the leaks 

Much like dirty air filters, cracks and leaks cause your furnace to work harder than necessary resulting in a higher heating bill and energy waste. Seal all leaks and cracks with weatherstripping or caulk; both are readily available at home improvement stores. 

5. Seal the ducts too

Since your home’s duct reside in the basement or attic, caring for them is often overlooked. If ducts aren’t organized up to code, up to 20 percent of your home’s heat could be lost making it worth to properly seal your ducts. 

6. Clean the gutters

While most don’t associate gutters with heating systems, debris in gutters can lead to clogged drains and tax your home’s drainage system resulting in water damage and higher energy bills. To avoid this, clear the fallen leaves and other debris out of your drains and gutters on a regular basis to avoid any water damage. 

7. Sweep the chimney (if you have one)

Getting your chimney cleaned is essential to a safe, hazard-free home. When any debris is removed, a clean chimney helps prevent house fires and carbon monoxide build-up. Additionally, it prevents draftiness leading to a lower heating bill.

The professionals at Bourke’s Service Company recommend having your home’s heating system inspected and tuned-up annually, preferably before the Illinois winter hits, to ensure it is working as efficiently as possible. 

Since 1983, Bourke's Service Company in Joliet has been a family-owned and -operated business, providing heating and cooling services. We install and service all makes and models of Frigidaire furnaces and air conditioners, plus Aprilaire air cleaners and humidifiers. Call us at (815) 729-2244 for your HVAC maintenance needs or to schedule your appointment.