The furnace filter low-tech upgrade

The autumnal equinox is here. Labor Day may be the ceremonial finale to summer, but the equinox is the meteorological “so long, see ya next year.” Starting now, the days get shorter, the nights get longer. And your furnace gets busier.

The heating season brings with it the home maintenance equivalent of a Rubik’s cube — installing new furnace filters. These can be a brain teaser to install if your cranium, like mine, runs a few synapses short of being Mr. Fix-It. For me, furnace-filter replacement brings much head-scratching, along with a vow to actually read the owner’s manual next time (and the pros say next time should be every two months during heating season). Spanking new filters make for a more efficient furnace, cleaner indoor air and a sense of satisfaction from saving a few dollars on my natural gas bill.

A furnace check-up every two to three years also comes highly recommended for energy-efficiency and safety, too. A look-see by a qualified furnace specialist is money well spent, as are those new furnace filters. Even better, consider stepping up to a new energy-efficient furnace. Do that, and I will personally send you $350 (full disclosure: it will really be a rebate from PSE, but you can think of me as you enjoy the money-saving warmth of your new furnace).

A few other didja-knows when it comes to keeping your furnace from working too hard: Dialing back the thermostat one degree will cut your heating bill by 2 percent on average. Setting the overnight temperature to 58 degrees will cut the natural gas bill by as much as 7 percent. Seem frosty? I’ve discovered a dazzling technology called an “extra blanket” that keeps things toasty. A digital thermostat helps as well. These gems turn the heat on when you wake up, cut it back when everyone is at work and school, and then warm the house up again for the evening. At bedtime, it’s down again until morning.

One footnote about natural gas costs: the price of natural gas is now going up in our area, but as a utility, PSE doesn’t benefit. The law allows us to make a return on the investment needed to put the pipes in the ground that bring you the natural gas, but not a profit on the natural gas itself. If the price of natural gas goes up, it’s only because we had to pay more to buy it in the first place. Last year, the price we paid went down, and so did the cost to you.

So, get ready for autumn leaves turning color and autumn nights turning chillier. For more ways to save, check for the latest in seasonal tips or call the Energy Advisors at 1-800-562-1482.

Remember, in just a short 273 days, it will be summer all over again.

Andy Wappler is a senior public relations manager at Puget Sound Energy. He joined PSE in February 2008 after being chief meteorologist at KIRO-TV. He can be reached at

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