PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The average family spends at least $2,000 a year on energy bills according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

More than half of that goes to heating and cooling your home.

If you need to replace your furnace, now may be a good time because tax credits for qualifying products expire at the end of the year.

Angie’s List has some tips for what you need to know before investing in a new system.

Becky Schooley had to replace her furnace after it went out earlier this year.

“The company that installed the existing unit had put in one that was too large for this home and so I think that might have caused the early demise of the unit or may have contributed to that,” Schooley said.

Experts said there are warning signs your furnace may need to be replaced.

Are your utility bills going up? Furnaces often lose their efficiency as they get older.

Is your furnace breaking down more often, resulting in costly repairs?

Are you always adjusting the thermostat to make your home more comfortable? Can the system keep up?

“The average life of a heating and cooling system is somewhere between 12 to 18 years, so obviously as you get older, things start to break down in your body, the same thing happens with heating and cooling equipment,” Kris Conover, a contractor, said.

If it’s time to replace your furnace, there are some things you should consider before buying.

Remember, bigger is not always better.

Your unit should be correctly sized to operate properly and efficiently.

And how much do you want to spend? As the efficiency rating goes up, so does the cost.

“Buying a new furnace is a large investment in your home. It’s an appliance that is going to last for many, many years so you want to be sure you find a company that is going to stand behind their installation,” Angie Hicks from Angie’s List said.

Ask prospective companies what specific manufacturers or equipment brands they carry.

Contractors should hold training certifications with the manufacturers of the equipment they carry.

“Even if you have a brand new furnace, you want to be sure you are doing your regular maintenance. A great idea is to check your furnace filter once a month. An easy way to do that is check it when you pay your utilities bills each month. A clean air filter is going to help your furnace run more efficiently and help you air quality,” Hicks said.

If your air conditioner is showing its age, it may be a good idea to replace both your furnace and air conditioner at the same time. Some manufacturers offer total system rebates when you replace both your air and furnace.


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