Top Tips For Maximizing The Efficiency Of Your HVAC Equipment

Lillian SteinBy Lillian SteinOct 11, 20170

Whether it is winter or summer, the temperature changes that creep into our lives often bring with them an unwelcome guest – rising utility costs. Once you’ve turned the heat or cool air on for the first time of the season, you find yourself heading to the mailbox with some trepidation as you look unpleasantly forward to the increased expense associated with staying comfortable.

For many people, these minor changes just to stay comfortable often add no small amount of financial distress to their budgets, regardless of whether they are living large or barely getting by.

It’s a no-brainer that the most important piece of equipment in your home when it comes to keeping yourself comfortable, no matter what the season, is your HVAC equipment. When the heating and cooling equipment isn’t doing a proper job of heating and cooling, one of the repercussions is that your monthly energy expenses can increase.

This is often because your HVAC system is being forced to work harder than it needs to keep up with your needs. Keeping your HVAC equipment maintained properly is essential to making sure it is functioning at an optimal level, and there are several things you can do to maximize the efficiency of your HVAC unit’s performance and operation.

Professional HVAC Equipment Servicing And Maintenance

Professional HVAC Equipment Servicing And Maintenance

While there are things you can do on your own, without the assistance of a professional, to make sure your heating and cooling system is in peak operating condition, there are times when you should retain the services of a qualified HVAC service technician.

For HVAC equipment that provides only heating or cooling and not both, a professional HVAC technician should be contacting to provide an inspection and servicing of the equipment once a year. You can have this done right before the season starts in which the equipment would be most used. If your heating and cooling equipment performs both functions, it should be professionally serviced at least twice a year – typically right before summer and again before winter.

A Little Preventive Maintenance (For HVAC Systems) Goes A Long Way​

A Little Preventive Maintenance (For HVAC Systems) Goes A Long Way

Keeping your HVAC equipment operating in a trouble-free manner can usually be done by simply performing a few preventive maintenance duties – most of which you can do yourself.

While the DIY list of preventive maintenance items is limited because some tasks do require professional expertise or knowledge of HVAC systems, don’t let that keep you from taking a proactive stance in maintaining the equipment yourself.

Here is a list of five things you can do yourself to protect your HVAC equipment on your own:

  • Check and change the filter, if necessary, according to the system or manufacturer recommendations. Some HVAC filters can be cleaned and re-used, while others must be replaced periodically with a new filter. When you check the filter, look for dust, dirt, and debris that may be clogging the filter and reducing air flow. A dirty filter can cause your HVAC equipment to become overworked as it works harder to push air through the ductwork of your home.

  • Avoid operating your heating and cooling equipment more than you need to. If you will be away from home for the better part of the day, or at least the hottest (or coldest) part of the day, wait until you get home to turn on the system and adjust the interior temperature. If you are going to be gone for several days at a time, turn the system completely off. Alternatively, you can invest in a programmable thermostat that gives you greater control over when your HVAC system is operational.

  • Check the condenser coils for frost accumulation, especially during regular winter operation. Frost build-up on the condenser coils will prevent air from being drawn in to the HVAC, which can cause reduced air flow or can burn out the motor. If frost is starting to build up on the coils, turn the system off to allow it to thaw or cycle it (if possible) through a defrost cycle. If the frost accumulation occurs regularly, have the system checked for possible calibration errors or other operational issues.

  • Check your ventilation ducts periodically to make sure they aren’t accumulating a significant amount of dust, which can reduce air flow and overwork your HVAC system. You should also look for leaks, cracks, and other damage in the ductwork, and always make sure your ducts, grills, and air exchange grates are not blocked by furniture, draperies, or other obstacles.

  • Look for water leaks and clogged drain lines on a regular (monthly) basis. An easy way to tell if there is a clogged line or leak is to look for accumulating water in the overflow reservoir, or look for leaks coming directly from the unit or drain line. If the unit itself is leaking water, call a service technician to inspect the unit, as this could indicate a more serious issue than just a clogged drain line or over-full reservoir.​

Efficiencius Maximus: Maximizing The Efficiency Of Your HVAC Equipment

Efficiencius Maximus: Maximizing The Efficiency Of Your HVAC Equipment

Do-it-yourself inspections and preventive maintenance are necessary and vital to the proper operation and optimal condition of your heating and cooling equipment, as is routine servicing by a qualified technician. While those things are important to prolonging the life of your HVAC unit, they are not the only things that can be done to maximize the equipment’s efficiency.

Here are nine top tips you can do at home, many of which have nothing at all to do with your HVAC system, to ensure that it operates optimally while minimizing excessive and unnecessary equipment use, wear and tear, and the premature need for costly repairs or replacement:

  • Check your doors and windows to make sure they are properly sealed. This will prevent a loss of heated or cooled air, which makes your HVAC equipment work constantly to maintain your desired interior temperature.

  • The recommended settings for thermostats are 68 degrees in the summer and 72 degrees in the winter. You don’t have to follow that guideline, however, and shaving a few degrees off during wintertime and tacking a few on in summer can substantially reduce your energy consumption. While the few degrees of adjustment really won’t make that much of a difference to your actual body temperature, you can do a variety of other things to make yourself feel cooler or warmer if necessary. Some of these tricks include using rugs on tile and hardwood floors to feel warmer or adding a humidifier and ceiling fans to feel cooler.

  • Check the insulation quality and quantity in your attic, basement, crawlspace, and replace the insulation if needed. You should also make sure all structural cavities in exterior walls are also well-insulated.

  • While checking the insulation in various parts of your house, make sure those areas are well-ventilated, as well. An attic space with no ventilation to the outside of your home can allow for the build-up of substantial heat that will, eventually, work its way into the living areas of your home (and thus cause your HVAC equipment to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature).

  • When you install a new thermostat or replace an existing one, do not locate the unit where it is exposed to direct sunlight or artificial heat from heat-producing items like television sets, computers, indoor lighting, or other gadgets and fixtures. Doing so can cause the thermostat to obtain a false temperature reading.

  • Use your blinds or draperies to help your HVAC equipment maintain a comfortable interior temperature and reduce unnecessary operation of the equipment. Keep your blinds or drapes open as much as possible during the winter to allow sunlight to add some natural heat to your rooms, and keep them closed during the summer to prevent sunlight from raising the interior temperature.

  • Use ceiling fans to continually circulate air and minimize stagnant areas of overly warm or cold air. In addition to circulating air and reducing the effort expended by your HVAC equipment to maintain a comfortable temperature, ceiling fans can also help you feel cooler during the summer by providing a slight breeze (but remember – they don’t cool rooms, they cool people; turn them off when not in use to minimize energy consumption).

  • Use heat-generating appliances (oven and clothes dryer, for example) during the cooler part of the day during the summer time so your HVAC equipment will not operate more than necessary to maintain your desired temperature. Conversely, during the winter, take advantage of the slowly cooling oven and leave the door open after use to temporarily raise the temperature and give your HVAC system a short break.

  • Despite the temptation to crank up the air conditioning when you’ve just arrived home from a long, hot day out in the sun, avoid doing so. Likewise, in winter, don’t give in to the desire to turn the thermostat up to 90 degrees when you’ve just come in, blue-lipped and frozen-fingered, from a blustery and frigid afternoon of shoveling snow. Frequent adjustments to the temperature make your HVAC equipment work continuously to keep adding warm or cool air in an attempt to keep up with your needs.

Keeping your HVAC system well-maintained and operating in peak condition will, barring any unusual circumstances or complications, ensure that your equipment lasts for years, if not decades. When you take care of your equipment with regular preventive maintenance and professional servicing, plus take a proactive approach at home to maximize the efficiency of your HVAC unit’s operation, you can not only prolong your equipment’s life but also make your monthly utility costs more manageable.

Maximizing the efficiency of your HVAC equipment also means you will likely be able to avoid the unpleasant costs of repairing the equipment or replacing it much sooner than expected.

Conclusion

When you take care of your heating and cooling equipment, on your own or with the help of a qualified HVAC technician, your equipment will take care of you by providing you with a comfortable living space in the most efficient way possible.

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