The official arrival of the first taste of cold weather for the season just might be the catalyst you need to turn the air conditioner off and turn the heater on.

Maybe it's just the nostalgic, hopeless romantic that resides between my ears but there is something very compelling about flicking that switch on the control box.

The unique smell of the heater's first run of the season takes me back to another place in time. A place where snuggling on the sofa and cups of hot chocolate were all that mattered. It's the symbolic changing of the seasons where the Summer of youth yields to the glory of Autumn.

Of course, you could also burn your house down too if you aren't careful.

Here is what you need to know before you fire that heater up for the first time and since a lot of you will be doing that tonight and tomorrow, you better pay attention.

1. If you haven't changed or cleaned your filter then you should. If you can't remember the last time that you cleaned or changed your filter, then it's been too long. It will save you money down the road and it's a simple thing you can do yourself.

2. It's supposed to stink for a little while. The dust of the Summer has settled onto the heating elements of your furnace. That smell is that dust being burned up by the unit. The smell should only last a short time.

3. Is the area around your heating unit clear? You need to check that because it could be a fire hazard if you don't. If your heater is in an attic you might have stored things next to the unit during the Summer. It's always a good idea to be safe than sorry.

4. Does your smoke detector work? Have you really tested it? Now would be a good time to check and change the batteries and make sure that the smoke detector is clean. You can brush some of the dust off or wipe it down with a soft cloth. Again it is better to be safe than sorry.

If your unit doesn't provide adequate heat or the burning smell lingers for more than a few minutes you're probably better off just shutting it down and calling a professional. You can always bundle up in a light jacket and a sweater. This cold snap won't last very long but it's a great opportunity to make sure you are ready for the much colder days to come.

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