By properly maintaining your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, you can improve its efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs dramatically.
Heating and cooling is easily the most energy intensive system in your home. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, heating and cooling is to blame for almost half of all the energy expenditure in the average American household, beating even the growing energy consumption of appliances and electronics. Thus, by properly maintaining your HVAC system, you can improve its efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs dramatically. If you want to reap the savings of an efficient HVAC, here’s how.
8 Tips for Improving HVAC Efficiency
- Close Up Your Home
- Consider a Home Warranty
- Calibrate Your Thermostat
- Check Your Economizer
- Control Your VFD
- Cut out Your BAS
- Clean Your Coils
- Connect Timers
Here they are in more detail.
1. Close Up Your Home
If you have cold or hot air pouring into your home from outside, your HVAC unit needs to work harder than it should to keep your home the right temperature. Therefore, one of the most basic ways to improve HVAC efficiency is to seal and insulate your home. First, you should keep doors and windows closed whenever your HVAC is running; then, you should check that the insulation in your walls and attic (if you have one) is still doing its job. By doing this, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent.
2. Consider a Home Warranty
If you’ve ever wondered how to compare home warranty vs. home insurance, now is your chance to learn. Home warranties guarantee the systems of your home, like your HVAC, against the ravages of time. If your HVAC breaks down for any reason, you can contact your home warranty provider, who will send an HVAC specialist to diagnose and fix the problem for a low, flat fee around $70. Though a home warranty won’t keep your HVAC in tip-top shape, it will secure you against total HVAC failure.
3. Calibrate Your Thermostat
You shouldn’t just trust that your thermostat knows what temperature it is in your home. It is easy for thermostats to be anywhere from a percent of a degree to five whole degrees off from the true temperature, and that seemingly small difference will cost you over time. To be certain your thermostat is reading true, you need to purchase a trustworthy thermometer and keep it on the wall a few inches from your thermostat. Then, using that tool, you can calibrate your thermostat appropriately.
4. Check Your Economizer
Economizers are machines attached to your HVAC to ensure high efficiency, but they don’t always work as expected. Often, economizers slip their links or contain faulty controls—or else someone in the past tinkered with them improperly. You should pay a visit to your HVAC economizer and give it a once-over; look specifically for open dampers (which should be kept closed) and any signs of quick fixes, like string or unfinished wood, that could indicate issues.
5. Control Your VFD
A variable frequency drive (VFD) controls the speed of the motor in your HVAC unit, providing energy savings proportional to the rotations per minute. However, like economizers, VFDs can malfunction and/or can be interfered with, causing efficiency-related problems. You should peer into your VFD and ensure that it isn’t running on bypass mode, so you can reap appropriate energy savings.
6. Cut out Your BAS
A building automation system (BAS) provides centralized control of HVAC as well as lighting and other systems. Such systems usually only exist in larger structures with more complex energy and control needs, but if your home is in an apartment or condo building, you might be subject to a BAS. You should either try to remove a BAS that is impeding the proper use of your HVAC or else contact your building manager to express concern over the BAS functionality.
7. Clean Your Coils
On the same day you clean your refrigerator coils, you should also clean your HVAC coils. Because HVAC units are typically placed in out-of-the-way areas that are rarely cleaned - like your roof, your basement, your attic or a corner of your yard - it doesn’t take long for them to accumulate dirt and grime. Debris on your HVAC coils forces the machine to work harder to produce the same effects, and it can reduce indoor air quality. Thus, you should schedule a coil cleaning at least once per year.
8. Connect Timers
There is no sense in heating or cooling an empty home. When you are away - at work or on vacation - you should consider setting a more lenient temperature on your thermostat, so it doesn’t need to work so hard for no benefit. You can also connect timer switches to your most energy-hungry devices, like gaming consoles, desktop computers and appliances, for a similar effect.
Over time, your HVAC will become less efficient—unless you do something about it. By participating in preventative maintenance, you can reduce your home energy costs and avoid the high expense of repairing or replacing your equipment.