By Dorothy Tucker

CHICAGO (CBS) — Every week, CBS 2 is trying to help you “Survive This Economy” and, as the temperature drops outside, the cost of keeping warm inside goes up.

Remember the Wrights? The suburban couple has four kids. Their furnace wasn’t working the way it was supposed to, so CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker helped them get in touch with an expert to see what he could do.

That expert has been helping the Wrights put off a huge expense, which helped the family save several hundred dollars for now.

The Wrights were having problems with their furnace. It would come on, heat up the house for a few minutes, then start blowing cold air.

After a call from CBS 2, Nicor sent a technician from Nicor Home Services, a certified company that will provide a comprehensive cleaning and check-up of your furnace for $89.

The technician concluded that the Wrights 14-year-old furnace is nearing the end of its lifespan and should be repaired or replaced in the near future.

A new furnace could cost $3,500, but in the meantime, the technician gave the old furnace a thorough cleaning and replaced the dirty filter – something he said all homeowners should do on a regular basis.

“If you have it cleaned every year, it works better. It breaks down less,” he said. “The thing about the dirty filter is airflow is everything; if I’m not moving the air through heat exchanger, I’m overheating the heat exchanger. … It’s not heating up and the furnace is running longer and now you’re raising your bills. … People need to check filters and change them every month.

Sinora Wright said, “I’m glad we had you come out today.”

After a good cleaning, the Wrights said their furnace is working just fine. So, for now, they’ll save the $3,500 cost of a new furnace, but they know they’ll eventually need to get a new energy efficient one.

But, after saving $137 on credit card debt with some advice from a financial expert and saving another $360 after they cut back on fast food, the Wrights have saved $497 in the past several weeks.

Dorothy Tucker