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If you have a multi-stage system, your furnace will adjust its power based on need and ensure a consistent temperature. Single-stage systems will turn on and off more often. However, if it turns on and off frequently, you might have a problem. The thermostat might need to be recalibrated, or unseen air loss somewhere in the house is putting heat to waste. Ask a professional for advice if your system turns on and off too often.

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The first time you start your furnace each season, it’s not uncommon to smell a dusty or musty odor as the system revs up. But if the smell continues, ask a professional to take a look. A burning odor means you should shut it off and call for help immediately. And if you smell gas, leave the home immediately and contact your fire department and gas company.

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In the U.S., air-source heat pumps are especially well-suited to the Southeast and the West, where winters tend to be mild. Claire McKenna, a senior associate at the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute, says technology improvements now allow heat pumps to operate effectively even in cold climates.

If your home is equipped with an old-fashioned mechanical thermostat, it might be time to upgrade to the electronic, programmable style. A pro…

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ORISKANY -- In terms of wet rock-sliding readiness, Bert Reid had an advantage over Lynn Tyrrell.

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