As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating. Take these steps to increase the efficiency of your heating system.

Change your air filter regularly:
Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the furnace work harder to keep you warm — wasting energy.

Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly:
Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating system can improve efficiency and comfort.

Install a programmable thermostat:
A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

Seal your heating ducts:
Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating system by as much as 20 percent or more. Focus first on sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After sealing the ducts in those spaces, wrap them in insulation to keep them from getting cold in the winter.

Consider installing a ENERGY STAR qualified furnace:
If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, have it evaluated by a professional HVAC contractor. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified equipment can cut your annual energy bill by more than $115. Check with the Truckee Donner Public Utility District to see if they offer any rebates for upgrading to an ENERGY STAR furnace.