Everyone knows that energy costs can rise dramatically during winter and summer months because of heating and air conditioning. You try your best to cut down on those cost by conserving whenever possible, but it still doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. In fact, according to the United States Department of Energy, more than half of residential utility costs are from HVAC usage. Which means a large percentage of your annual income could quite literally be going out the window. Conditioned air (hot or cold) can be lost out windows, doors, cracks in your foundation, through walls with no insulation, through siding with no vapor-barriers and a variety of other unfortunate weaknesses in your home’s structure. So, with all of that being said, here are a few tips on improving the efficiency of the HVAC system in your home. In addition to providing tips on how to make your home more efficient, we’ll also cover the number of ways you can maintain your HVAC unit to help it perform to the best of its ability.
Make your home more energy efficient – There are many ways to make your home more energy efficient, but there are a few simple things you can do make a difference right away. A few of these helpful techniques include: using weatherstripping around windows and doors, UV film on window glass, insulating spray foam on gaps and cracks in your foundation, installing new insulation in basements, attics, walls, installing new siding and upgrading appliances to newer ones.
Keep the area around your condenser clean – The condenser (that cube-looking thing that sits outside your house) needs to remain clean and free from debris in order to work correctly, and if it isn’t, then your home won’t get as cool as it should. Make sure it’s free from leaves, tree branches and other debris to ensure the unit stays in good working order. The condenser coils should also be cleaned by a professional once every year. This can be done by spraying out the coils with a garden hose or using a self-cleaning spray on units that aren’t easily accessible.
Clean and clear vents – Just like the condenser outside of your home, the vents inside need to be kept clear in order to maintain proper airflow. That’s why it’s a good idea to go around and vacuum out vents, grills and accessible ductwork on a somewhat regular basis. It’s also a good idea to take the grates off and wash them. Just make sure you dry them thoroughly before putting them back on, otherwise you can end up with mold growing on your walls and ceilings.
Adjust the temperature accordingly – By turning the thermostat up a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter, you can save your unit from the burden of trying to keep up with varying temperatures, and you’ll save a few dollars in the process. You may be wondering if turning the temperature up will defeat the purpose of what the HVAC system is supposed to do. The truth is that your body doesn’t feel much of a difference between 68 degrees and 75 degrees but your HVAC system certainly will.
Don’t overheat the thermostat – Most modern thermostats have temperature sensors on them which adjust the settings of the unit accordingly. If you keep any devices which produce heat (appliances, fans where motors can heat up, etc), then that can make your thermostat think the temperature is hotter than it actually is, costing you money and energy in the process.
Close the curtains – During the day, when the sun is at its peak, it’s a good idea to close all of the blinds, curtains, sunshades, etc in your home. This will help keep out the heat of the sun, which in turn puts less stress on your HVAC system.
Keep your drain line clear – If you have a central air system, as opposed to a ptac or mini-split system, then your air handler will have a drain line to remove excess moisture from the home. Over time, this line can become clogged with debris, mold, etc and should be cleaned out by pouring a cup of bleach into the line and placing a cleaner tablet in the pan.
Avoid using your dryer and oven in the hottest hours of the day. Running your dryer will cause warm air to be drawn into your home and using your oven will add additional warm air to your home, causing your air conditioner to have to work harder.
Seal old ductwork – One way that you can lose a lot of conditioned air is by having leaky ductwork. Over time you end up with ductwork that has been moved around a lot from regular wear and tear. People move things around in attics and basements, things shift from the house settling and kids play with things that they shouldn’t, which can leave your ducts with holes in the side or having sections pull apart. If this is the case, then you can end up losing a lot of air. Sealing them with duct tape (actual metallic duct tape, not the gray stuff you buy in the supermarket) will go a long way to solving this problem.
No matter which type of system you have and no matter where you live, your home and HVAC components could probably stand to be more efficient. Not only do you save hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of dollars every year, but you can also sit comfortably in your home, confident that the temperature is going to stay where it should. The most important thing to remember is that you should never let routine maintenance go by the wayside, especially when professional help is only a phone call away. With a little patience, a healthy dose of discipline and the aid of a trusted HVAC company, you’ll never have to worry about wasting energy and money again.
For all of your HVAC needs, call J&W Heating and Air at 904-647-3292.
Proudly serving the Jacksonville area since 1966.