As much as half of the energy used in the average home goes to heating and cooling, so making smart decisions about your HVAC systems can have a measureable effect on both your comfort and utility bills. To increase the efficiency of your heating or air conditioning system, consider the following tips:
Just like a car, your HVAC system needs to be professionally maintained at least once a year in order to operate as efficiently as possible. Have an HVAC contractor conduct a maintenance test before the peak heating and cooling seasons begin. If you don’t know which elements to address, Energy Star’s website has a “HVAC Maintenance Checklist” that offers many useful suggestions.
Check your HVAC system’s filters every month, and pay extra attention during seasons of heavy use. A dirty filter will limit air flow and make your system work harder, which wastes energy. If too much dirt and dust builds up, it can cause expensive maintenance problems or even system failure. Try to replace your filters every three months, and install high-quality replacement models to optimize dust screening.
Program for savings
Consider installing a programmable thermostat—if you match its settings to your out-of-the-house schedule, you can save hundreds of dollars in annual energy costs.
Poorly sealed and insulated ductwork can greatly reduce the indoor comfort level of a home, so you should definitely prioritize maintaining ducts running through your attic, crawlspace, garage and other easy-to-access parts of your house. Seal all seams and connections with duct sealant or metal-backed tape. Don’t use duct tape—it doesn’t have staying power.
Improve home insulation
When insulation is correctly installed, it simultaneously increases comfort and reduces your energy bills. Insulation performance is measured by “R-value,” which essentially means the ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value in your insulation, the stronger it is. R-value requirements vary from room to room, and your local climate also determines your overall needs, so it’s best to get professional assistance before doing any work. For more detailed insulation tips and recommendations, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.
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