Are you looking to take a bite out of your monthly utility bills or just trying to be more environmentally responsible? Look no further than your HVAC system. More than half of home energy usage goes to heating and cooling, but you don’t have to shiver or sweat in order to cut back. If you’re ready to make your wallet heavier and your carbon footprint lighter, here are six ways to improve your HVAC unit’s efficiency without sacrificing comfort.
Keep Your Filter Clean
Air filters are important to maintain air quality and keep your ducts clean, but dirty filters are major energy sinks. Dirt and debris clog the filter over time, which makes your HVAC unit work harder to pull air through. Check your filter once a month and change it whenever it looks dirty or every three months, whichever comes first.
Does your unit seem to struggle even with a fresh, new filter? Consider trading cheap fiberglass filters for cleaner, more efficient HEPA filters. Upgrading your filters not only makes your HVAC more efficient but also catches more contaminants like dust, mold spores and pet dander.
Check Your Insulation
Adding more insulation is one of the best ways to improve your HVAC unit’s efficiency. Insulation keeps your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer by blocking out the outside air, which means your HVAC doesn’t have to work as hard. However, many older homes and even some newly constructed ones lack adequate insulation.
If you’re building a new home, consider using concrete foam blocks to add both strength and insulation to your walls. Are you upgrading an existing home? Consider using spray foam insulation, which is more effective than traditional fiberglass insulation and can be installed without taking your walls apart.
Use Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans add charm and coziness to a home, but they’re more than just good looks. Switching your fans on in the summer creates a cool breeze that lowers your home’s temperature and helps your air conditioner run more efficiently. You can even switch your HVAC off and use only fans and open windows to stay cool during spring and early summer.
Fans aren’t only for cooling off either. Reverse your ceiling fan’s blades to help push warm air down into the room during the winter months. Most fans have a switch located on the back of the fan that changes the direction of the blades.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Did you know that dialing back your thermostat for eight hours a day can save up to 10 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs? It’s easy to set your home’s temperature a few degrees warmer or colder while you’re away at work, but remembering to change the settings every day is hard. Swapping your old thermostat for a programmable model can do the work for you by automatically adjusting the temperature according to the schedule you set. Some thermostats can even be adjusted remotely using your phone.
Power Down Hot Spots
You already know that your television, computer and video game console sip power when you leave them to idle, but did you know that they also make your HVAC run harder? Appliances and electronics release heat that makes your home’s temperature rise and triggers the air conditioning to compensate. Reduce your energy consumption by powering down these items when not in use. Consider plugging multiple devices into a power strip so you can easily switch them all off at once.
Look for the Energy Star
Is your HVAC a dinosaur? Replacing it with a new, efficient unit can pay for itself in energy savings over time. When you’re shopping for a new system, look for equipment labeled with the Energy Star logo to get the best bang for your buck. Energy Star certified products have been independently tested and verified to save energy without compromising on features and performance.