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How to keep your furnace running efficiently during extreme cold

To help alleviate some of the stress off heating systems during cold temperatures, set your thermostat a few degrees lower than what you're used to.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — Frigid temperatures are sticking around this week, and to stay warm, some people might turn up their thermostats. But two heating and cooling companies in the metro warn not to overwork the furnace. 

Bobby Johnson, the sales and marketing director at Golden Rule Plumbing Heating and Cooling said their phones have been ringing nonstop the past few days.

He noted the calls have been for people waking up with no heat or individuals noticing certain parts of the house are not heating up as quickly.

"The no-heat calls are obviously the most urgent at this time," Johnson said.

He also said when temperatures drop, more calls are expected because furnaces are working harder to keep up.

However, Jonathan Marchand at Schaal Plumbing Heating and Cooling, said the reason some furnaces are struggling has to do with their programming.  

"Your system's [furnaces] aren't designed to run in temperatures that are below-zero for long periods of times," Marchand said.

To help alleviate some of the stress off of systems during these cold temperatures, set your thermostat a few degrees lower than what you're used to.

So if a person wanted the heat at 74°, try 72° or 73°. 

It is also recommended you set your thermostat to one temperature and leave it there.

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"Set it and forget it and leave it alone," Marchand said. "Don't let it run through a program or anything like that. If you have a programmable thermostat those are great, but not for this time of year."

Marchand said leaving the program on to cool and then heat up your home or apartment in extreme temperatures, over time, could lead to efficiency problems, early repairs and potential safety issues. 

"When the heat exchanger gets very very hot and it cools down, and it gets really really hot and it cools down, over time it can cause carbon monoxide to mix with the air in your home," he said.

This is why he said it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home.

Both Johnson and Marchand said it's important to always change air filters, which could help prevent some problems, and it's important to get routine check-ups on furnaces. 

Doing this could help catch issues before they become severe.

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