February 2nd is Groundhog Day, when Punxsutawney Phil traditionally comes out of hibernation and tells us whether spring will soon arrive, or cold weather will persist and extend the winter heating season. This annual event has been widely celebrated across the country since 1886, but does it really have a correlation to your home’s HVAC?
How Groundhog Day Relates to Your HVAC System
According to Groundhog Day lore, if the sun is out when furry Phil emerges from his burrow, he’ll see his shadow and retreat back inside, and we’ll have six more weeks of winter. If the sky is overcast and the chubby rodent isn’t scared by his own shadow, he’ll stay outside which means that spring is on its way. Whether or not you believe a nervous groundhog makes a good meteorologist, a shorter or longer winter can impact your home comfort, well-being and monthly expenses in predictable ways:
Seasonal energy bills. When Phil accurately foretells an additional six weeks of cold temperatures, you’ll end up spending more on gas or electricity to keep your home warm. If the weather turns mild instead, you may benefit from lower utility bills for a longer period before the heat of …
Airflow problems with your HVAC system can leave you dealing with discomforting issues like hot or cold spots, uneven temperatures in different rooms, and/or a drop in conditioned air output from the registers. What starts out as a gradual loss of comfort can escalate into a costly equipment breakdown or failure, so it’s vital to have the problem addressed. Here’s a look at some of the most common causes or airflow issues and what to do about them:
Obstructed Registers and Duct Openings
If you’ve closed some registers, or your return ducts are covered by furniture, drapes, throw rugs, toys or other items, it can cause temperature inconsistencies in different areas of your home and a damaging imbalance in system airflow. You can fix this by wiping down each vent cover and vacuuming out the duct openings, and then checking that your louvered registers are completely open and all supply and return vents are free from obstructions.
Clogged Air Filter
If you’ve neglected to change your system’s air filter and it’s become clogged by dust and debris, you’ll notice a drop in airflow at the registers. Restricted airflow can also increase your HVAC equipment’s workload and energy consumption, or even …
The words “HVAC control system” typically bring to mind the complex climate control systems that manage heating, ventilation and air conditioning in industrial or commercial buildings. These elaborate systems ensure energy efficiency and occupant comfort using software-managed sensors and controllers that continually monitor the building’s interior conditions and operate the various HVAC components.
HVAC Controls Used in Homes
In a home with central HVAC, the thermostat is what controls the air conditioner, furnace and the blower unit that delivers conditioned air. Early thermostats were basic mechanical devices that signaled the equipment to start and stop at specific temperature set points. Technology has advanced in recent years, and today, there are sophisticated home HVAC controls available that provide greater energy efficiency, comfort and convenience, including:
Programmable digital thermostats. Digital thermostats use a thermistor to measure room temperature, and a microcontroller to convert that measurement to a digital temperature reading. Factory-installed software in programmable models allows a homeowner to input their temperature preferences for up to eight setback periods per day to maintain comfort while saving energy. Zoning systems. Zoning divides a home into two or more areas to provide more precise control of comfort and energy consumption. A typical zoning system …
You might be prepared for the upcoming holidays, but can you say the same about your home comfort needs? Whether you’ll be spending intimate time alone with your family or opening up your home to host a party, it’s time to tackle some very basic holiday HVAC concerns. Here are a few you can check off your list right away:
Get the Furnace Checked Out
An annual inspection of your furnace will keep it running efficiently throughout the season and extend its operational lifespan. A qualified HVAC technician will also point out anything that needs to be fixed.
Clean or Replace the Air Filter
Depending on how often you run the furnace, the system’s air filter can fill up with dirt and debris very quickly. If your system doesn’t have an indicator light to alert you to it being clogged, check it at least once a month and either clean or replace it as needed.
Choose Between an Indoor and Outdoor Party
It’s unnerving when your HVAC system is in cooling mode and you feel warm air coming from your registers. This can occur for various reasons like a mix-up in basic HVAC settings, neglected routine maintenance, or at worst, a newly-developed problem with the cooling components. Here’s how to identify and solve the most common issues, and know when to call for professional help:
Recheck Your Thermostat Settings
Mix-ups with your thermostat settings can produce warm air output instead of cool, and they’re easily fixed:
The thermostat was accidentally switched over to “heating ” mode and just needs to be reset for “cooling.” The fan setting is in the “on” position, which keeps it running non-stop and sends warm air out in between cooling cycles. Put the fan on “auto” instead, and it will operate in tandem with the A/C and only push cool air through the ductwork. Check Whether the Outdoor Unit is Operational
If airflow from the registers suddenly goes from cool to warm, there may be a loss of power at the outdoor unit. If it’s non-responsive, check both the outdoor emergency shutoff switch and the unit’s breaker in your home’s main electrical panel. If either has tripped, …