In the area where I live, we experience four distinct seasons and the temperature varies quite a bit. During the summer months, the temperature climbs into the high nineties with excessive humidity. In the winter, it’s not unusual for the temperature to plummet into the negatives, with a brutal wind chill, and feet of snow. There is rarely an opportunity to shut off the heating and cooling system, and simply open the windows to the fresh air. Because of this, energy costs make up the majority of my budget. A tightly sealed home and energy efficient furnace and air conditioner are essential. My furnace is approximately eight years old, achieves 98% AFUE, and features variable speed technology. The air conditioner is less than five years old, reaches 26 SEER, and offers fan-only capability. To ensure that the heating and cooling equipment operates at its best, year after year, I’ve enrolled in a preventative maintenance contract with a local HVAC company. I further make sure to replace air filters every month. I’ve replaced every window in the house, carefully caulked around them, and added weatherstripping to exterior doors. I’ve upgraded the level of insulation in the walls, ceilings, and attic, and installed ceiling fans in the main rooms. With the addition of a programmable thermostat, I’ve minimized the workload of the heating and cooling system when the house is empty. Despite all of my efforts, I’m still unhappy with the high cost of energy bills. When faced with severe weather, there’s simply no way to maintain a comfortable home without spending a small fortune.