Gas Furnaces 101

Woman adjusting her thermostat

Understanding and Maintaining Your Home's Heating System

Heating and cooling accounts for about half of your home's total energy usage. A gas furnace is ideal for conserving both energy and money, but some homeowners are more familiar with a traditional system.

If you are part of the many households benefiting from a gas furnace, you need to understand this system so you can heat your home in an effective manner. With this guide and the help of a certified HomeSmart service technician, you will learn how to use and maintain your gas furnace.

Understanding Your Gas Furnace
Your gas furnace system has many components to heat your home. When the gas and air is combined and heated by the system's burner, the furnace moves it through the heat exchanger and into the ductwork.

Once the heated air has entered the ductwork in the walls, ceiling, attic and crawlspaces of your home, the hot air is moved into your home through the vents.

The use of gas to heat the air is one of the greatest benefits of having this type of furnace because you will save a great deal of money on your monthly energy bills.

Even though a gas furnace is more affordable than other furnaces, purchasing gas may become expensive in the cooler months, depending on how much you use your heating system. You may not be able to determine exactly how much gas a furnace will require, but understanding the AFUE is helpful.

The annual fuel utilization efficient, or AFUE, refers to the efficiency of your gas furnace. The higher the AFUE, the more efficient your system will be. For example, a furnace with an AFUE rating of 90 uses 90 percent of the gas for heating your home.

Maintaining your Gas Furnace
Maintenance is important if you want your furnace to work in the most effective and efficient way.

Filter Cleaning
Just like with a traditional heating and cooling system, the filter of your furnace will become clogged with dirt and dust. A clogged filter will prevent heated air from flowing into your home, but a dirty filter can also increase the amount of allergens in your home's air. Allergens decrease your home's interior air quality while also increasing the risk of allergy symptoms.

To locate and replace the filter, remove the cover panel from the area below the air duct on your furnace. After removing the cover, you should be able to pull the old filter out easily.

Behind the filter is the furnace's blower. This component is an imperative part of moving heated air into your home, so inspecting and maintaining this part is also important.

Wipe away any visible debris and dust that has built up on the blower. Then, install your new filter.

Since gas is involved, it is best to schedule a service appointment with a HomeSmart technician to complete any repairs on your furnace. Here are a few signs that your gas furnace may be in distress:

  • Gas Odors. The smell of gas inside your home is a sure sign that you need professional assistance.
  • Igniter Issues. If you are unable to ignite or maintain a lit pilot light, the igniter may be failing.
  • Improper Heating. Once you set your thermostat, your furnace should be able to heat the home to your desired temperature. If you are struggling to heat your home, there may be an issue affecting your blower motor or fan.
  • Loud Noises. If you hear loud banging or rattling sounds while heating your home, you may have a broken belt or fan blade that needs to be replaced.

With proper understanding and maintenance, your gas furnace will be able to heat your home efficiently. To learn more about maintenance and repairs on your furnace, contact HomeSmart from Xcel Energy today via email ( or phone (1-866-837-9762).

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