In general, anything that can reasonably reduce the stress on your heating and air conditioning system will not only help cut your utility bills but also extend the life of your HVAC system. Follow the tips below to keep your HVAC system in the best possible condition:
- Regular maintenance/pre-season tune-ups (Comfort Agreement). Most trouble during the height of the season can be prevented with regularly scheduled tune-ups. Dirt and negligence, such as low freon, reduces the air conditioners efficiency. Regular tune-ups improve the efficiency of your air conditioner which will help pay the cost of the tune-up. Many repairs caught early can prevent more expensive repairs later or even an early system failure.
- Regularly change the filter during peak usage months. To say the least, it is important that you have a filter in your system to prevent dirt build up and causing even more dusting in your home. If you haven’t been using a filter, it is a wise investment to have your system, including the ducts, cleaned to ensure optimum efficiency and keep the operating costs as low as possible. During peak usage, check and consider changing the filter monthly.
- Check your air ducts and have them cleaned, if dirty. Many HVAC firms have a snake type camera that can be placed in the air vents to check for dirt. Dirt in the system will cause early failure of your equipment, increase the potential for allergies and some sickness, as well as, increase house cleaning tasks.
- Ensure that ducts are properly sealed. The ducts that transmit the conditioned air throughout the house often lose 20% because of holes, cracks, and bad connections. This condition can dramatically increase the operating expense and cause premature system failure.
- Consider a high quality programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat can be programed to reduce usage when you aren’t home but can be easily overridden when needed. The government estimates savings of about $175.00 per year, if properly used.
- Use fans year around to supplement both heating and cooling. The government says that each degree you can reduce the thermostat will save you 3% on your utility bills. Somewhat higher temperatures can be tolerated in the summer using fans. Fans, including ceiling fans, (blow the air up) can help circulate air in the winter to get heat that rises off the ceiling and reuse it to heat the lower level of the house.
- Plug leaks in walls and windows. You may know your HVAC system creates a slight positive pressure in the home to keep heat/cold out. Most people know the advantage of using high quality windows and sealing around them, however, it is much more these days. Homes built today look to seal even more, including leaks through holes in ceilings, around light fixtures and/or light switches on walls.
- Control direct sunlight into your home. In the summer direct sunlight radiates heat into the home so anything that can be done to reduce the radiated heat will save you money. Outside: trees, awnings, solar screens on windows, and some shrubs can help block sunlight. In the winter it is just the opposite, however, the sun is lower in the sky. Anything that can help solar heat will help keep the bills down.