Is it sunny and hot where you are right now? If so, the last thing on your mind is your furnace. But autumn and winter are just around the corner. As you enjoy the pleasant days of summer, keep the future in sight.

Give yourself the peace of mind in knowing you're all set for frigid weather when the first cold snap hits. Have your heating system inspected, repaired, or replaced before peak furnace-repair season makes the wait longer. Below are three things you can do to manage now for a cozy winter later.

1. Determine the Age of Your Furnace

In order to understand what kind of performance to expect from your furnace, you need to know the make, model number, and age of your heating unit. Somewhere on your furnace, there should be an identification plate with serial or model numbers and the brand name of the unit printed or engraved on the surface of the plate.

Look for any identifying number or name on the plate or unit itself, including the date of manufacture. Write the numbers you find in the search bar of Google. The results should tell you what model your furnace is so you know its heating capacity. You should be able to determine the approximate year the furnace was made, too.

You could also call your HVAC professional to find out what the numbers mean. Your HVAC expert knows how long your heater will last and whether it has the capacity your home needs. If you have a furnace older than 15 or 20 years old, it's a good idea to start shopping around for a fresher model.

New gas and electric furnaces are rated at up to 97 percent efficiency in converting energy to heat. Your old furnace may only have a 65-percent efficiency rating, meaning it wastes a lot of your gas or power dollars.

2. Check for Leaks Throughout Your Home

According to the experts at Energy Star, if you add up all of the average home's leaks, they would equal as much heat loss as leaving an entire window open all year. Close that window by sealing up cracks in all parts of your home.

Summer is a good time to check for leaks and repair them. You don't have to worry about frostbite when doing outdoor caulking. Many sealants and caulks don't set up properly below 40 degrees F, so you risk wasting your time and sealing products by waiting to close up cracks in cold weather.

You should check the following areas as you seal up your home:

  • Windows—check around frames and trim inside and out. Check glazing at panes for loose areas.

  • Doors—caulk and seal around all four sides of each exterior and interior door frame. Purchase draft protection or reframe doors if there are gaps above or below the door.

  • Roof—insulate underneath the roof in between trusses to avoid ice dams and heat loss on the roof. Insulate attic rafters above lower floors to keep heat from escaping into the attic.

  • Basement—check crawl space and basement for cracks and holes, Check basement windows for loose seals and leaks.
Other areas that are common air-leak spots include the dryer vent, kitchen vent fan, attic hatch, outdoor faucet, and the plumbing vent stack. Use expanding foam, insulated covers, and special collars to block drafts in these areas.

3. Have Your Ductwork Redesigned

If you have a relatively new furnace, but it's not keeping your house comfortable, it may not be the furnace. Of course, your furnace needs to be sized to fit your home's heating needs, so the furnace does matter. But the way heat is delivered to each room can make a huge difference in how efficiently and reliably even the best furnace performs.

Your furnace operates under pressure, similar to the way blood is pumped through your body. If the pressure in your duct system is too high, it's as bad for your furnace as it is for you when your blood pressure is too high. Your fan and other elements will wear out much more quickly than they would if the pressure in your ductwork were at the correct level.

Similarly, inadequate pressure will make your furnace work much harder to deliver heat throughout your home. Filters and other ductwork components can lower the pressure in your system so that it struggles to heat the rooms in some areas of the house. Without proper air movement in your ducts, you won't get adequate heat movement.

Ductwork can be easily redesigned to make less noise and deliver more heat. If your ductwork is working well, it's still a good idea to check the ductwork for excess dust, leaks, or damage caused by pests and pets.

Contact C B Lucas Heating & Air Conditioning today to schedule your furnace maintenance and inspection before the autumn rush is on. We offer three different service plans to keep your HVAC system running at peak performance all year long.