Most people’s New Year’s resolutions involve such things as exercise and diet. While those self-improvements are important, consider making and achieving some New Year’s resolutions that will make a real difference in your household budget and home comfort. We’re talking about actions that will improve the operation and efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems.
These recommendations, if followed, should result in a substantial savings in energy and money in 2020, as well as enhancements in home comfort.
Some Money-Saving New Year’s Resolutions
• Commit to regularly inspecting your forced-air system’s air filter. A monthly check is usually recommended, unless you’re in between cooling and heating seasons. Pull the filter out of its slot and hold it up to a light. If you can’t clearly see the light, the filter needs to be replaced. Even without the old “hold it to the light” trick, it’s usually obvious when an air filter is clogged with dust and debris. A clogged filter will force your AC, heat pump or furnace to work longer and harder than necessary, which wastes energy, raises energy bills, and stresses equipment. Not replacing the filter regularly also may have adverse air quality effects in your home.
• Schedule regular preventative maintenance. Professional maintenance at least annually, but ideally once a year on the cooling system and once a year on the heating system, is essential for optimum efficiency and performance in a residential HVAC system. Without professional maintenance, components in an AC, heat pump or furnace will get dirty (adding friction to operation), lose lubrication, and fall out of proper adjustment. Plus, having an expert set of eyes inspecting your HVAC system will ensure that small problems are caught before they become large, expensive ones. Consider signing up for a professional maintenance contract with a trusted HVAC contractor in your community. That way you won’t let it slip your mind.
• Inspect the interior of your home. Look at all heating and cooling vents to make sure they’re clear and not blocked by clutter, furniture, rugs, drapes or other objects. A forced-air HVAC system absolutely requires smooth, unimpeded airflow. When airflow is restricted, the machinery must work harder to achieve your thermostat setting, which as with a clogged air filter, will result in wasted energy, uneven comfort and undue stress on equipment. Also take the time to check visible ductwork. Look for any duct sections that don’t appear tightly connected or that appear corroded or otherwise defective. Your trusted HVAC contractor can do a more comprehensive inspection and take any necessary corrective steps.
• Inspect the outside of your home. Look for holes, gaps and cracks in the exterior of your house. These are places where cold or warm air can either enter your home or escape it, forcing your HVAC equipment to work harder to compensate. Likely locations for air intrusion can be found where wiring, pipes and other conduits penetrate the home, where the foundation meets the main part of the house, where home additions are connected to the main house, and at windows and doors. Use caulk, weatherstripping or spray foam to seal these gaps. Which medium you use will depend on the size, location and type of hole that needs to be sealed.