8 ways to reduce HVAC energy costs
Programmable thermostats can help maintain temperatures throughout the day, saving money on your monthly heating and cooling bill. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Bill K.)
It’s as predictable as death and taxes: Energy costs invariably rise over the long term. But by undertaking a few proactive steps, you can reduce your home HVAC system’s energy use and its cost to you.
1. Keep up with routine maintenance
If you don’t already have a proactive maintenance program for your HVAC system, it’s a good idea to schedule semi-annual service with a qualified HVAC service company. They can make sure your system is operating at its most efficient settings and that parts or components are in good working order.
2. Operate your HVAC system at optimum and stable temperatures
The temperature you set your thermostat is largely a matter of personal comfort, but many systems have optimum temperature ranges that ensure they’re using energy efficiently. Consult your owner’s manual or with your service technician to find out the most energy-efficient temperature range. It’s also a good idea to avoid fluctuating temperatures too frequently – such as turning the AC way down on a hot day – as this can make your HVAC system work harder and less efficiently.
3. Seal your home from drafts
Most people think about stopping air infiltration in colder winter months, but it’s also crucial during AC season – any air leak in your home robs your HVAC system of efficiency since that heated or cooled air is lost. Ensure that all windows are shut and that doors have good weather seals before turning on the HVAC system.
4. Beef up your insulation
Particularly in older homes, inadequate insulation is another factor that can lead to losing heated or cooled air from the HVAC system. If you’re unsure about your home’s insulation levels, consult with an energy auditor or insulation professional for guidance.
5. Turn down the thermostat
Setting the thermostat to the coolest temperature in the winter or highest temperature you find comfortable can seem like a small step, but the energy savings can be substantial. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, setting your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours at a time during the heating season can save you 5 to 15 percent in heating bills each year.
6. Use a programmable thermostat
If you don’t have, installing a programmable thermostat one can go a long way in to help reduce energy use when you’re not home. The less your HVAC system has to work to maintain comfortable temperature levels that aren’t necessary because no one is home, the more savings you’ll see on your heating or cooling bill.
7. Change your air filters regularly
Changing your HVAC system’s air filters once a month, or as directed by the furnace or filter manufacturer, helps ensure your system has smooth, uninterrupted air flow.
8. Use curtains, blinds and drapes to help control temperatures
Window coverings can have a big effect on your home’s heating or cooling load. In cooler months, harness the sun’s free warmth by keeping curtains, blinds or drapes open on south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight in. Close them at night to add an extra layer of insulation between the glass and your home interior. In the summer, keep window coverings closed during the day to reduce temperatures.