According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So, making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills — and your comfort.
Replace or clean the filters on your indoor air conditioning or heat pump system and furnace in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations to help ensure your systems are operating at optimal efficiency.
Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly.
An annual HVAC equipment tune-up can help your system run at peak efficiency and help prevent a heating or cooling system failure. Replace or clean your furnace or air handler filters on a monthly basis. Lack of regular filter changes and maintenance is the number 1 cause of system breakdowns and costly repair bills. Most manufacturers require that regular maintenance be performed annually to ensure warranty coverage.
Use programmable thermostats.
Programmable thermostats can save you energy and money while you’re asleep or away, without sacrificing comfort while you are at home. In the summer, raising the thermostat 2-3 degrees during the day while you’re away can save you money. In the winter, lower the thermostat 2-3 degrees during the day while you’re away to help you save money. With each degree that you change the setting, you can expect to cut energy consumption by up to 3-5%.
Windows with shades.
Open shades and curtains allow more radiant heat from sunlight into your home, allowing it to be heated by the sun during the winter months. In the summer, keep window shades closed to keep the cool air in and the warming sunrays from pouring into the home.
Install an attic fan to help ventilate some of the hot air out of the attic.
Attics can reach temperatures of 140 – 150 degrees and this build-up of warm air can make the upstairs of a home warmer than it needs to be. This makes the air conditioner work harder to do its job.
Install a more energy efficient HVAC system.
If your furnace is more than 15 years old, or your air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, consider replacing it with a more efficient unit. In many cases, high-efficiency replacement systems will pay for themselves.
Make a smart purchase.
When buying a new air conditioner, make sure that it is properly sized and installed – bigger is not always better. Units with too large a capacity will short cycle costing you more and may decrease your home’s comfort by causing higher humidity levels. Hire a qualified, licensed contractor to accurately size and install your HVAC equipment to your home’s needs.
Find and seal air leaks.
Hidden gaps and cracks in the home can add up to as much airflow as an open window and can cause your cooling system to work harder. By sealing your outer walls, ceilings, windows, and floors, you could potentially save up to 10% in energy costs. Double check the level of insulation in the attic and above crawl spaces to make sure it is sufficient and up to modern codes.
Tighten your ducts.
It is common to find gaps between duct joints in a home, whether new or old. Have your ducts inspected, sealed and insulated to increase indoor air quality, maximize the movement of cooled or heated air to all rooms of the home, and prevent loss of conditioned air to areas between walls, ceilings, and floors. A poorly performing duct system can reduce your system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, by causing your system to work harder to maintain your home’s temperature setting.
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