If you want the best performance and energy efficiency for your HVAC system, it’s important to get the system maintained annually. An HVAC system loses efficiency each year, and heating or cooling accounts for around 48% of the domestic energy used in our homes. A certified local HVAC technician can carry out professional work, but there are a few things that a homeowner can do themselves between each service visit. In this article, we will look at eight tips to boost your HVAC system’s energy efficiency.
- Adjust the Thermostat
This is a very simple tip; adjusting the thermostat back by 7º-10º for 8 hours each day could reduce your cooling and heating energy bills by as much as 10%. In an average home, this would be a saving of around $83 annually, and this is easy to do if you have a programmable or smart thermostat. The temperature can be adjusted for 8 hours during the night when you’re less likely to notice the difference. If you go on vacation, the temperature can be set as low as 55ºF without a risk of pipes freezing.
- Calibrate the Thermostat
A thermostat that isn’t calibrated correctly could drive up your energy bills. The thermostat in your home is a sealed unit, but it can lose its calibration if it’s bumped or dust and debris get inside. A thermostat should be checked and calibrated as part of your annual HVAC service visit. The very best control and efficiency is available if you install a new smart thermostat that you can control remotely in real time via a handy app on your phone, tablet, or computer.
- Install a High Efficiency Furnace
According to industry experts, replacing an old furnace that has 60% efficiency with a new furnace with 98% efficiency will save an average home over $11,000 over the lifespan of the furnace. The efficiency of a furnace is measured as the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE rating. Every modern furnace sold must have an AFUE of at least 80%, but if the AFUE rating is in the 90-98% range, it’s considered to be a high efficiency furnace. There are modern furnaces available that have an AFUE of 98.2%, which means only 1.8% of the energy used is lost to exhaust fumes. If you switch to an energy efficient furnace, you could save 25-30% on your annual heating bills.
- Evaluating Your Insulation
Insulation is a passive way to keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. If the insulation levels are not adequate, your HVAC system will need to work harder to keep your home comfortable, and your energy bills will rise. Adding extra insulation is a cost effective way to retain the treated air in your home and reduce your energy bills. The key areas are the attic, crawlspaces, and walls, and your insulation should be around 270mm thick for the best results.
- Checking and Sealing Ductwork
We rely on our ductwork to distribute the treated air throughout our homes, and any air lost is a waste of energy. It’s estimated that between 10-30% of the treated air in a typical HVAC system is lost to gaps in the ductwork. This can add hundreds of dollars to the heating and cooling bills in an average home. The ductwork will degrade as it ages, it will start to leak air and this also allows airborne contaminants to enter the system. People with breathing conditions and allergy sufferers are often the first ones to notice that the air quality has degraded. The best way to approach this problem is to locate the cracks and seal them with some metal tape or a mastic sealant. Then the ducts should be insulated to boost the performance and reduce the strain on your HVAC system. Sadly, this is often difficult because leaks or cracks could be hidden in hard to reach places. If you want to get your ductwork checked, consult a local HVAC professional for expert help and advice. If the ductwork is too badly damaged, it’s often cheaper and more efficient to get the ductwork replaced entirely.
- Inspecting, Adjusting and Cleaning Burners
If the furnace burners in your system are dirty or corroded, a great deal of energy efficiency may be lost. A furnace burner can accumulate rust due to an undetected leak from a condensate drain at some point, and it will get worse over time. This task would require an entire article to describe in detail, but if you’re not confident, this is covered as part of a comprehensive annual service.
- Change the Furnace Filter
The HVAC system in your home can get very dirty. If the system is not cleaned, this material can be reintroduced into the home, and the indoor air quality will suffer. The furnace has a temporary or permanent filter; it needs to be changed or cleaned regularly. When a furnace filter is clogged, it will reduce the airflow to the heating equipment, this can place additional stress on the compressor and lead to mechanical failures. The components in your furnace are expensive to fix and replace compared to the price of a new furnace filter or a little time spent cleaning a permanent filter. Always check the owner’s manual for detailed instructions on cleaning and replacement and get the right sized filter for your furnace.
- Regular Home Cleaning
Sometimes it can be difficult to schedule regular cleaning if you have a hectic life. But, it’s well worth the effort; having a nice clean home to enjoy is nice, and your HVAC system will also benefit from your efforts. If the areas around the furnace are kept clean, there will be less dust to circulate throughout your home. If the floors are kept free from dust, there will be less dust to stir up and lift into the furnace. This will reduce the stress on the HVAC system, improve the air quality, and help to keep the home dust-free.