MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The cold weather has settled in, which means Minnesotans are turning up the heat. But kicking your furnace into high gear can be expensive, especially if you haven’t given it proper maintenance.

After last year’s mild season, heating companies are loving this.

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The issue is that so many people don’t follow a couple of easy steps to make sure their furnace is ready for the Minnesota cold.

There’s no rest for Tom Kriese the day after Christmas. As a technician for Bonfe’s Plumbing and Heating, he’s busy making house calls.

“Almost all the calls we go on is lack of maintenance. People just not maintaining the equipment and it finally breaks down,” he said.

Kriese said most people don’t give their furnace the care it needs. And there are things you can do to keep it running.

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He suggests cleaning your filter monthly — if it’s one inch thick. Thicker ones can go a few months between cleanings, as long as you do it before the deep freeze sets in.

“When it gets really cold, that’s when it’s going to run the most and that’s when it’s going to break,” he said.

Bonfe’s and other heating specialists charge extra for emergency after hours calls.

Kriese said to avoid the hefty bill, call the pros before there’s a crisis.

“Having it professionally looked at once a year isn’t a bad idea,” he said.

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Maintaining your furnace will also help it run more efficiently and that usually always helps when it comes to keeping that heating bill in check.