HVAC! Still reading? Hang in therewith us, and we promise to break it down as quickly and painlessly as possible.
First, you may understand what it is, but just in case, let’s get that part out of the way first. HVAC simply stands for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning. Simple enough, right? Next, let’s get the most painful part out of the way quick, like ripping off a Band-Aid: up to HALF of your home’s energy goes toward heating and cooling. In a way it makes sense, but stop and consider that for an extra minute. Up to half. Every month. In the words of Forrest Gump’s mother, Mrs. Gump, “There must be something can be done.”
So let’s talk about a few of those somethings.
Change your air filter regularly
Check your filter every month, especially during heavy-use months in the summer and the winter. We know, this is something everyone knows to do. But how many of us actually do it? Set a reminder on your phone. Put it on your calendar until it becomes automatic. And then do it. If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a MINIMUM (yes, minimum), change the filter every three months. And here’s why: a dirty filter slows down air flow and makes your system work harder to do its job, thereby wasting energy in the process. A clean filter additionally prevents dust and dirt from building up in the system, which helps prevent leading to expensive maintenance and/or early-system failure.
Tune up your HVAC equipment annually
Think about the importance of tuning up your car. Just like that can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. It may seem like a pain to cough up the cost, or to remember to schedule it, but it’s WAY better than having to get an entire new system.
Install a programmable thermostat
A couple of weeks ago, we went over thermostats, and boom, here we are again. A programmable thermostat is great for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week (i.e. basically all of us). Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs. And that’ll buy you something cool for sure.
Seal your heating and cooling ducts
Ducts that send air to a forced air furnace, central air-conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. All that air, just blowing around willy-nilly at your expense…so consider the fact that sealing ducts can improve the efficiency of your HVAC by up to 20 percent — and sometimes much more.
We have also talked about duct sealing before, but just as a brush-up: focus first on sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Additional importance: use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After the sealing is complete, wrap them in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter. After that, look at other ducts within the house that you could also seal. Bam, you’re practically an expert.
Consider installing ENERGY STAR-qualified heating and cooling equipment
Okay, let’s go worst-case scenario now: if you do all of the above, faithfully and without fail, but your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or n ot keeping your house comfortable, it may be time to have it evaluated by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider that you have to go for the big investment anyway and look into a system with the ENERGY STAR rating. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment can cut your annual energy bill by more than $115. But on the other hand, before you invest in a new HVAC system, make sure that you have addressed the big air leaks in your house and the duct system. Sometimes, these are the real sources of problems rather than your HVAC equipment. So exhaust all the aforementioned possibilities before unleashing the big check.
OR, and maybe you know by now where this is going, consider giving us at Smart Energy Solutions a call at 417-612-7092 for any additional questions you may have.
Fact credit: energystar.gov