There never seems to be a year in which the cost of running your HVAC system doesn’t seem to continue rising year on year. This is something most homeowners are faced with and in an effort to keep the cost of heating and/or cooling their homes to a minimum, they are seeking ways to increase the efficiency of their HVAC system. Many times, these are newer units that are rated as being highly efficient and cost effect but for some reason, the cost of running them is skyrocketing. Actually, there are several things you can do to increase the efficiency of your HVAC system. Many of these suggestions cost you nothing but a little time and effort.
1. Change Your Filters Every 90 Days
Air filters can be located in various areas of the home but the two most common places to find them would be the indoor return air duct and near the outside unit. Clogged filters can make your unit work harder because air flow will be reduced, and the thermostat will keep it continually running until the programmed temperature is reached. Sometimes this will keep your unit running 24/7 and that could significantly reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system, which will lead to an extremely high electricity bill. Also, you may want to install a programmable SMART thermostat. Some can be controlled with mobile apps, making it easy to turn it off or on and higher or lower remotely if you are away from home for an extended period.
2. Clean and Dust Regularly
It stands to reason that if you need to change your filters at least every 90 days it would be wise to also keep rooms free of dust and dirt. When airborne, these tiny particles can get trapped in the filters, clogging them quickly and thereby reducing airflow. As mentioned, this will also make your HVAC work longer and harder. Not only will it lower your power bill but keeping your unit from working ‘overtime’ you will be helping to lengthen its life. Dust regularly and keep the floor swept or vacuumed. If you have draperies keep them washed or dry cleaned and blinds should be dusted regularly and washed at least twice a year.
3. Declutter Every Room
One suggestion is to limit the number of ornaments and other dust-catching items on shelves. Yes, they are cute, but they are dust traps. Instead, why not have a selection of photos printed and framed to hang on walls. These can be easily dusted and a photo print from your mobile phone can bring memories to life. How many hundreds of snapshots do you have of the kids, your latest holidays, and candid shots of friends and families? It’s easy to send digital files to an online picture print service like Photobox and while you are there, why not have them print photos of the kids you can send to the grandparents and family members in Christmas cards? Their service can print them in an assortment of sizes, on various types of paper, and even on mugs and other gifts.
4. Annual HVAC Maintenance
Not only will having your HVAC system ‘tuned up’ and well-maintained once each year keep it running more efficiently but it will also add at least 3 to 5 years to its expected lifespan. As part of the maintenance HVAC service professionals do they will:
- Inspect and provide maintenance of moving parts
- Inspect and clean, if necessary, the condensate drain
- Check levels of refrigerant
- Inspect all electrical components
- Check and replace filters as needed
And other things that will ensure efficient functioning. The maintenance team will also check to see that the area around the unit is cleared to keep it clean of debris that could clog moving parts within the unit.
5. Make Use of Nature
To decrease your draw on energy, why not keep your window treatments closed on the side of the house facing the afternoon sun in the summer months? Also, if your screens are in good repair, you can open windows on cooler days to bring fresh air into the home, reducing the need for air conditioning. On exceptionally sunny days in the cooler seasons, you could open the blinds or draperies to allow the warm afternoon sunshine to ‘naturally’ heat those rooms.
6. Inspect and Repair Weatherproofing
Speaking of making use of nature, the flipside is to protect the home from those inordinately hot or cold days. Make sure all windows and doors are weatherproofed. Also, if there are any cracks in the glass or doors, have them repaired or replaced as soon as possible. To keep the heat in or air cool, weatherproofing is essential.
7. Monitor Air Ducts
Sometimes, no matter how vigilant you are in changing those air filters, dust and other small particles get through. These can clog ducting over time which will also reduce airflow in or out of the home. It is essential to help your unit move heat in or out as the season requires and clean ducts are the way to ensure that.
8. Use Appliances and Electronics Wisely in Summer
This is something many homeowners aren’t really aware of in terms of HVAC operations. While they know that reducing the amount of energy used will help lower their power bills, HVAC efficiency isn’t factored in. By using things like dryers and ovens and other heat-producing appliances during cooler hours in the summer, the air conditioning function doesn’t need to work as hard. It also helps the heating function to work better in winter because those colder evenings and nights are kept a bit warmer when you have your dryer running or your oven on to bake those tasty treats. You might also want to keep heat-producing electronics off as much as possible during daytime hours when cooling is required.
9. Use Ceiling Fans Efficiently
Every school student learns that heat rises. If you use your ceiling fans efficiently you can also reduce the amount of work your HVAC unit needs to do. Therefore, in the summer months, keep the fan circulating air so that it blows it toward the ceiling vents and in the winter keep the fans pushing the heat downwards. While most of us know that those ceiling fans help cool us off if we are seated directly below them, we don’t stop to think that pulling the hot air up and toward the vents helps to cool a room on hotter days.
There are so many other little ways to ensure your HVAC unit is working effectively, so try to do whatever you can to put less of a draw on it. For example, bathroom ceiling vents should be well maintained and in working order. By drawing hot, moist air out of the room, you will be reducing the amount of heat that escapes into the home during the hotter summer months. You might also want to think about what all that mould can do to your unit if it gets into the ducting. Anything you can do to help your HVAC unit work more efficiently will lengthen its lifespan and reduce your consumption of power.