For many people, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to spend a cozy evening at home. One of the most important factors for keeping your home atmosphere comfortable during this holiday is maintaining your HVAC system. Since Valentine’s Day occurs at the height of winter, preparing your HVAC system may require special considerations for everything from your heating units to indoor air quality.
Fortunately, some guidelines can keep your household ambiance pleasant even during the coldest season of the year. Remember these tips for prepping your HVAC system can help ensure a cozy environment for your special day.
1. Change the Air Filters
Dirty air filters harm your home’s indoor air quality. They can also reduce the efficiency of your heating and cooling system as your HVAC unit struggles to push air through the clogged filters. Most experts recommend changing filters at least once every three months. You may also wish to talk to an HVAC professional about installing high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that are the right size for your system. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HEPA filters remove up to 99.97% of airborne contaminants that are as small as 0.3 microns ( µm) in size. An HVAC professional can also recommend filters with the most suitable minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating to match your HVAC equipment.
2. Upgrade the Thermostat
Consider upgrading to a smart thermostat to keep the home as cozy as possible for the holiday. A smart thermostat can turn off automatically when you leave the home and automatically adjust temperatures when you return. This enables more efficient energy usage, reducing the wear on your HVAC system and potentially lowering utility bills. According to the Department of Energy, thermostats with programmable features can save your household up to 10% in heating and cooling expenses without sacrificing comfort. Smart thermostats with enabled WiFi allow you to adjust the settings remotely from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Some smart thermostats have geolocation features that allow them to recommend temperatures based on the local climate as well as voice-activated technology so that you can make changes verbally while in the room.
3. Seal Air Leaks
Air leaks cause heated air to seep from the home and can reduce the effectiveness of your HVAC system. These leaks can cause HVAC units to work harder to maintain consistent temperatures. Drafts from air leaks can also cause discomfort. Inspect doors and windows for potential leaks. Experts recommend sealing these gaps and cracks with weatherstripping or caulking to prevent warm air from leaving the home or cold drafts from entering your comfortable space.
4. Check the Insulation
Insulation helps keep the home warm during winter months like February. Without enough insulation in places like the attic, for example, heated air could escape through the roof. Consider checking the insulation of your walls, attic, or basement to ensure that the warmth stays in your house where it belongs.
5. Check the Vents
Check the air registers in each room to ensure that the grilles are not dusty or dirty. In addition, remove obstructions like furniture, rugs, or curtains away from your supply and return vents. Unblocking the vents allows air to circulate freely throughout your rooms. While you may feel tempted to close some of the vents, this can disrupt the balance of airflow and increase utility bills. Experts recommend keeping at least 80% of vents open in the house.
6. Consider Adding Zoning
Talk to an HVAC professional about installing a zoning system in your home. Zoning is an energy-efficient way for each area of the home to receive the right amount of heating to match individual demands. An HVAC professional can separate different spaces into climate zones complete with their own control panel and thermostat. This will allow you to customize your space for a cozy holiday evening without disrupting the settings of the rest of your house.
7. Inspect the Ductwork
Before any major indoor event, you can ask an HVAC professional to inspect the ductwork. Your ducts are responsible for delivering treated air to rooms throughout the home. Unfortunately, duct leaks can result in heating losses ranging from 20%-30%. If your ducts have major cracks or tears, a professional can repair the damage before it takes a toll on the efficiency of your HVAC system.
8. Check Humidity Levels
During winter months like February, it is also important to check indoor humidity levels. Dry winter air can wreak havoc on your skin and respiratory system. Low humidity during the winter can even damage home electronics by increasing static electricity. According to the EPA, relative indoor humidity should never fall below 30%. An HVAC technician can test indoor humidity levels during the winter using a hygrometer. If humidity levels are too low, the technician can install a humidifier to add moisture to your rooms.
9. Service the Chimney
Nothing invokes coziness like the warmth of a romantic, inviting fireplace. However, you will need to service the chimney before lighting any fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), dirty chimneys are the cause of at least 30% of winter heating fires. Reach out to a professional to remove soot buildup. A professional can also help ensure that the flue duct remains open to prevent accidental back drafts or carbon monoxide poisoning.
10. Test Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
A home fire can turn an idyllic holiday evening into a horrible nightmare. When preparing for an indoor celebration, be sure to test all smoke and fire alarms. Ask a technician to check all carbon monoxide detectors and consider getting the alarms hardwired into your system for additional protection.
11. Install a WholeHome Air Purifier
The holidays offer the perfect chance to add an air purifier to your home. Types of purifiers include ionic air purifiers, activated carbon purifiers, and ultraviolet lights. An HVAC professional can help you determine which device works best for the contaminant levels specific to your home. Turn to us for our indoor air quality services!
12. Upgrade to a High-Efficiency HVAC System
Consider investing in an energy-efficient HVAC system. Start by looking at systems with suitably high SEER ratings for optimal performance. You can also ask an HVAC technician about installing ENERGYSTAR-certified units that use significantly less power without sacrificing heating ability. Some localities offer rebates or tax incentives for upgrading to high-efficiency models as well.
13. Consider a Home Energy Audit
To maximize comfort levels for guests and home occupants, ask your local HVAC company about conducting a home energy audit. This assessment helps identify areas in which you can improve the HVAC efficiency of your home. For example, the energy audit can locate the source of hot or cold spots as well as the origin of major heating losses. This helps you create a more comfortable environment and can save money eliminating wasted energy in the long run.
14. Schedule an HVAC Inspection
An excellent way to improve the atmosphere is to keep up with annual HVAC inspections. These inspections evaluate the status of all major HVAC appliances. During an inspection, a technician may also check components like electrical connections and identify which parts need repair or replacement. This can spare you the headache of an HVAC emergency when you least expect it.
Contact Us Today
The holidays offer the opportunity to show others that you care. Keep your loved ones comfortable all season long by taking care of your HVAC system as well. J&W Heating and Air provides HVAC services for homes in Jacksonville, FL and surrounding areas. We offer heating inspections and maintenance, and we can help with all furnaces from gas to electric. Our technicians can install zone-control systems, smart thermostats, humidifiers, and air purifiers. We can conduct home energy audits and perform any duct cleaning. No matter the issue, our trained technicians can help. Contact J&W Heating and Air today for all HVAC needs.