Cost saving steps for your HVAC unit

Cost saving steps for your HVAC unit

To avoid catching a cold, we swallow an extra dose of Vitamin C. To chase away cavities, we floss after meals. But how many of us take a preventive approach to our home's HVAC system?

Many homeowners forget about maintenance for heating and cooling systems — until the moment the A/C croaks in a scorching summer heat wave or the furnace freezes in the cold of winter.

Paying attention to that simple but powerful part of the HVAC system — the filter — can save your system and your budget.

A clean air filter prevents the HVAC's blower and cooling coils from being overworked. Changing the filter every two to three months helps guarantee a cool summer and toasty winter. A clean filter can also reduce allergens.

Keeping the outdoor elements of your HVAC system as clean as possible can also extend its life. When mowing the yard, for example, don’t allow grass clippings to blow into the outdoor unit. Clear away dried leaves and dirt on a regular basis, and avoid planting bushes or other plants too close to it. Anything that prevents a continuous flow of air around the unit makes it less efficient.

Cleaning your home's duct work can also be critical, especially in older houses. If there is a blockage in duct work, air doesn’t flow as freely. Check to make sure that all duct work is properly sealed in joints and corners, too. If there are cracks and gaps, the conditioned air escapes through walls instead of into the rooms of your home.

When should you dial for a professional HVAC intervention?

Even if you are committed to preventive maintenance steps, breakdowns can still occur. If your HVAC system sounds louder than usual, if certain rooms don’t cool or heat to the temperature on the thermostat or if you utility bills have skyrocketed, these may be tell-tale signs that service or repair is necessary. For a regular maintenance, have a professional inspect your system every one to two years.

Preventive maintenance can work wonders, but here are some additional budget-saving facts:

  • Programming your thermostat 3 to 5 degrees cooler in winter and higher in summer than you normally would can save you more than 10 percent on utility bills.
  • Before leaving your home for the day in the summer, don’t forget to raise temperature settings. Each degree is worth more than eight percent cooling costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat and change the settings based on the season. During winter months, a 72 to 68 degree setting decreases the heat bill by up to 15 percent. Raising the temperature from 72 to 78 degrees in the summer decreases cooling costs by up to 18 percent.

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