Winter came very early last year in my region. Due to the nice summer we had, I was expecting a long and mild fall. I was mistaken when the temperature suddenly dropped in the middle of September. It only took a day for me to go from shorts and sandals to coats and jackets. The air conditioner was on one day, and the furnace was on the next. The threat of snow loomed in the air, so I rushed to put away the grill and patio furniture. I prepped the pool for winter, and found all of my snow shovels, ice scrapers, and rock salt. When the furnace kicked on, it made some strange noises and had a weird smell, but I didn’t pay much attention to it, thinking it was just because it was on for the first time in months. I didn’t bother with an HVAC professional. I thought it would adjust itself once it had been running for a few days. Instead, the smell and the noise both worsened. The furnace kept running though, but my utility bills got higher and there were still spots in the house that were cold. It seemed that every room of the house had a cold corner, so I just kept turning up the heat. Finally, the furnace completely conked out, and I had no choice but to call an HVAC professional to come and take a look. Repairing the furnace took a lot more money than a simple proactive maintenance appointment would have. Because I needed the appointment in the middle of the night, I even had to pay extra for overtime service. The technician confirmed my fear that the issue was lack of maintenance and a buildup of dust.