It’s easy to take your home’s HVAC system for granted and develop bad habits about its use and care that affect your comfort, energy bills and the equipment’s reliability and longevity. If you identify with any of the following bad HVAC habits, now’s the time to kick them:
Neglecting the Air Filter
Your air filter is in place to trap debris so it can’t accumulate on and harm sensitive components. Running your HVAC with a clogged filter can cause a loss of energy efficiency and premature equipment wear that leads to breakdowns or failures. You can easily prevent these costly problems by checking your filter monthly, and replacing it whenever there’s visible debris accumulation, or every three months at minimum.
Fiddling With the Thermostat Settings
If your living areas frequently feel too hot or too cool and you’re in the habit of changing the thermostat temperature settings to compenstate, you’re wasting energy and adding to the equipment’s workload needlessly. A better alterntive is to use your programmable thermostat to make temperature adjustments based on your usual daily routine. If you’re still experiencing discomforting temperature variations, get your HVAC pro’s advice about installing zoning to give you greater control.
With cold and flu season just around the corner, it’s not too early to explore the idea of fighting germs with HVAC equipment. It is possible and it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to lower transmission rates of bacterial and viral illnesses in your home. Upgraded filters, humidity control and UV (ultraviolet) lights all help to eliminate the spread of infectious diseases.
Bacteria range in size from .3 to 60 microns and viruses from 0.005 – 0.3 microns. While most air filters for HVAC systems won’t capture the smallest particles, a whole-house air filtration system will, especially if it uses HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.
One of the reasons fall and winter are the cold and flu season is that the dry indoor air supports the transmission of infectious diseases. Overly dry air dries out the respiratory passages and makes them more vulnerable to infection from bacteria and viruses.
The germs also get a boost when the air dries out. When you keep indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent during the fall and winter, they won’t multiply as quickly. A whole-house humidifier will maintain even levels effortlessly and efficiently.
Before it’s time to switch the thermostat from cool to heat, don’t neglect fall HVAC maintenance. The same things that you do to keep the A/C running efficiently will keep it running smoothly all winter long. Besides saving money on heating costs throughout the winter, you’ll know that your system is running safely.
Change the air filter if it’s clogged from heavy summertime use. A dirty air filter during any season will harm your system’s components and drive up energy costs.
Inspect each register for dust. The dust that collects on the register covers for the ducts slows down the air coming from the air handler. It will take longer to heat the room and could add to its dust load. Sometimes exceptionally dirty register covers signal a ductwork leak or tear. If it’s not fixed, heating bills could skyrocket and air quality plummet.
Clean the outdoor condenser if you heat with a heat pump. Rake away the falling leaves and remove the dead vegetation near the condenser. Check the coils for dust deposits and make sure they aren’t coated with grass clippings. If soap, water and a soft brush won’t loosen them, try coil cleaner …
HVAC efficiency depends upon more than just the make and model of your air conditioner or furnace. Insulation is one of the factors that can make or break both optimum energy efficiency and consistent comfort in your house.
Insulation For All Seasons
Heat energy is always in motion from a warmer zone into a cooler zone. Proper insulation effectively inhibits both heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter and supports maximum HVAC efficiency. The most cost-effective location for household insulation is usually the attic. Here’s why:
Solar heat radiating through the roof overheats the attic in summer, causing rooms below to become hotter, too. A bed of fiberglass or cellulose insulation in the attic floor effectively inhibits heat radiation through the ceiling and reduces the cooling load on your air conditioner. In winter, heat from the furnace naturally rises in living spaces, radiating up through the ceiling into the colder attic. Proper insulation in the attic floor resists heat transfer through the ceiling and keeps heating costs lower. How Insulation Pays Off
As the fall season arrives, you can expect to have leaves falling around your outdoor HVAC unit. While you might be tempted to wait until they’ve all fallen before raking them up, keep in mind that they can end up causing trouble for your HVAC system. Keep these outdoor HVAC unit protection tips in mind, so you can ensure optimal efficiency and a lower risk of repairs for your HVAC unit.
Remove Leaves Around the Unit
As leaves fall to the ground, you’ll want to keep the area around your outdoor unit as clear as possible. Otherwise, air can’t flow through it freely, resulting in decreased efficiency and higher utility bills. Use a rake to clear leaves from the ground around your outdoor unit, and get rid of any weeds that are out there as well.
Trim Tree Branches
If you have trees near your outdoor unit, trim the branches so that they don’t hang over it. Having branches above your unit means that you’ll have leaves falling right into it and clogging up the components. When your outdoor unit has debris inside it, this can result in damage and unexpected repairs.