Many homeowners simply accept the energy running costs of their HVAC systems without complaint. This seems strange because heating and cooling equipment can represent as much as 50% of the energy costs in an average home. For this reason, many people are interested in making energy efficiency improvements to save money. It may be possible to save as much as 20% on your energy costs and any money that you invest may be recouped in a single year. Let’s take a look at five proven HVAC energy saving tips in more detail.
1. Regularly Check the HVAC Filter
If you only do one of the tips on our list, make sure it’s this one. Checking and changing your filter regularly isn’t hard, the full instructions are in your owner’s manual and fresh filters can be very affordable if you buy them in bulk. The filters in your HVAC system have a hard life because air filled with airborne particulates passes through them multiple times every day.
The main purpose of a filter is to protect the sensitive components in your HVAC system. When the surface of the air filter becomes clogged with contaminants, such as: skin cells, dust, hair, pet dander and more, it’s a problem. The airflow is diminished and the system relies on a steady and regular supply of air to run. A clogged filter causes the heating and cooling equipment to work hard to compensate which drives up the energy bills. Another problem is that overworked systems are more prone to failure which can lead to an expensive repair bill.
It’s a great idea to check and change our filter once per month, but if you’ve got pets you may need to change them more often. Switching to an air filter with a higher MERV rating will trap smaller particulates and improve your indoor air quality (IAQ). But, if the MERV rating is too high for your home, it will be hard to push air through the surface which can lead to other problems. If you want to improve your IAQ and energy efficiency with a filter change, contact your local HVAC specialist for expert advice.
2. Invest in a Smart or Programmable Thermostat
The thermostat lies at the heart of your HVAC system and if you’re not getting the best out of this unit the performance and efficiency can be compromised. It doesn’t make much sense to cool or heat your home, when there is nobody home. Older thermostats were controlled via a timer unit that was not a flexible option. Any delays returning home or altering the temperatures remotely was simply not possible.
These days, we are lucky enough to have programmable thermostats that can be set for more precise times. But, the ultimate in control is the smart thermostat that you can control remotely via your favorite mobile device. It’s possible to make changes in real time when you’re not at home, using the Wifi connection. You can monitor a wide variety of HVAC system features and make changes to boost the energy efficiency. If you’re going to get home sooner, you can alter the temperature to ensure that the indoor comfort meets your needs when you return. Experts estimate that the average homeowner can save at least 20% on their energy bills if they install a smart thermostat. But, before you go ahead, check with your local HVAC specialist because some systems are not compatible with smart thermostats.
3. Block Ultraviolet Light
The heat from the sun can be formidable during the hotter months of the year. When hot sunlight streams through a window and you walk into that room, you can feel the heat immediately. The ultraviolet light from the sun can damage your soft furnishings and furniture, but for our purposes, the main concern is the buildup of heat. The sunlight can heat up the contents of the room to change the thermal profile of your home.
When a room is hotter than other areas of the home, there is a reaction from the air conditioner. The AC system will try to compensate by working harder to reduce the heat in that room. When heating or cooling equipment works hard, it’s more prone to failure and it tends to consume more energy at the same time. This drives up the energy bill during the daylight hours and this can really add up over the year.
The solution to this problem is pretty easy. You need to block the sunlight and prevent it from entering your home. The affected rooms should have blinds or drapes at the windows that you can draw during the hottest hours of the day. Outside you can add shade with screens, trees, bushes, and anything else that breaks up the sunlight. Taking these simple steps will protect your AC system and lower your energy bills. It’s also worth noting that taking the opposite of these steps when it’s colder will lower your heating bills. Open up the drapes and blinds and let the sunlight into your home to get some free heating from the sun.
4. Upgrading to a High-Efficiency HVAC System
If you have an HVAC system that’s close to or over 15 years old, it’s likely that your energy bills are higher than they should be. As your heating and cooling equipment ages, it loses efficiency and this is especially true if no regular maintenance has occurred. Switching to a high-efficiency HVAC system with a SEER rating of 16+ will have a dramatic impact on the performance and energy efficiency. Before you make a final choice, contact your local HVAC specialist and they will be happy to help you plan your new systems.
5. Regular Maintenance
Your HVAC system represents a significant investment and it makes sense to care for it in the same way as your car or other big ticket items. We recommend an inspection and tune-up before the start of each heating and cooling season. This will help us to identify smaller issues before they turn into big problems that are expensive to fix. Well maintained equipment is less likely to fail, it may have a longer lifespan and it runs more efficiently.
If you want to schedule some essential maintenance for your HVAC system, contact your local HVAC specialist today.