(NAPSI)—It happens every fall. We prepare for winter by replacing screens with storm windows, sealing cracks or leaks around windows and doors, cleaning gutters and shutting off exterior faucets. But what about our home heating system? The experts at the Luxaire™ brand of Johnson Controls encourage you to make these steps part of your winterization routine:

• Replace or clean the filters in your heating unit to improve airflow and efficiency. ENERGY STAR®, a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recommends checking your filter every month, especially during heavy-use months, and if it looks dirty, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every three months.

• Consider installing a programmable thermostat like the Luxaire Touch-screen Thermostat with Proprietary Hexagon Interface, which allows you to remotely program your thermostat using your smartphone and lower your home's temperature when the house is unoccupied.

• Change the batteries in your thermostat to ensure it operates properly throughout the winter.

• Test your thermostat by turning it on in the heat mode. It should respond immediately, and you should feel heat coming from your air vents. Make a note of any sounds that seem abnormal.

• Inspect your ductwork for punctures, dents or disconnected sections. It's also a good idea to periodically clean your heating duct to allow heated air to flow efficiently to all areas of your home.

• Check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels (measured in R-values) recommended for your area. It's also wise to insulate water heaters and pipes to minimize heat loss.

• Schedule an inspection of your system by a heating professional. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces need annual tune-ups; gas-fired equipment can be serviced every other year. Professional technicians are usually trained to detect leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. You might also consider the convenience of a service contract to ensure your system is properly maintained each year.

• Buy an energy-efficient furnace or heat pump. Gas furnaces in the Luxaire Acclimate™ Series offer an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating as high as 98 percent, while Acclimate split system heat pumps offer a heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) up to 10. Ratings like these translate to significant energy savings and reduced utility bills.

To learn how you can improve the efficiency of your home comfort system this winter, visit www.luxaire.com or follow it on YouTube and @LuxaireHVAC on Twitter.

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)