I thought today the perfect day from this post from our HVAC friend, Jason Wall. Not sure what’s going on in your neck of the woods, but we’ve had about a week straight of record heat and humidity here. An improperly functioning air conditioning unit can be a money drain on days like this, so thanks for the tips, Jason!
In the battle that countless homeowners wage against personal debt, we make sacrifices daily to gain ground. But on sweltering summer days or the most frigid winter nights, your heating and air conditioning might feel more like an issue of life and death rather than a concern towards better energy efficiency. Unfortunately, the impact that indoor climate control has on our energy bills is significant, and energy inefficiency is not an option for frugal folk. So, how badly can an HVAC system affect your energy bill?
In over two decades of experience servicing businesses and residential clients through Griffith Heating and Air, I’ve found that the answer is usually “very much.” Depending on the state of your system, the damage to your budget can be tremendous. There are three important aspects to your system that you can control to improve your energy efficiency, and most of these can be improved without the help of professional service technicians.
How do you use your system?
Depending on your habits, you can save a great deal of money every month by adjusting how you use your air conditioner. Rather than relying on it for all of your climate control needs, try only turning it on when absolutely necessary by adjusting your windows , shades, and doors. Permitting more sunlight in by opening shades can generate several degrees of warmth indoors naturally. Meanwhile, opening windows during early morning or late evening times can allow coolness from outside to permeate throughout your home.
It’s best to only use your system when necessary, but when you do, make sure you’re smart about conserving the conditioned air your home produces. Sealing every outside window and door tightly is essential if you don’t want to waste precious conditioned air. Consider having an energy audit conducted, or do it yourself, if you haven’t had one in a while and suspect large energy bills might be due to air leaks and poor insulation. If the house remains vacated throughout any considerable points of time in the day, never leave your system on. Your system actually runs more efficiently at full blast than when it has to constantly fluctuate to accommodate a steady temperature.
How much TLC do you give to HVAC?
There are a few incredibly simple maintenance procedures that anyone with access to a retail home supply store can accomplish. The easiest and most routine of these repairs is replacing and cleaning air filters. Over time, dust accumulates throughout your system. While mostly harmless in your ducts, excessive dust on your filters can cause your system to push harder to allow airflow. By changing these every one to three months (depending on the levels of dust in your environment and the needs of any individuals of your home), you’ll see immediate improvements in your energy costs. Replaceable filters are inexpensive and usually come in handy bulk packages. To clean the permanent variety, simply remove the filter, vacuum, rinse with warm water, and allow to air dry before returning it.
A slightly more ambitious way to clean your system to improve your home’s efficiency is to clean the coils in the indoor and outdoor units. Cleaning these coils can result in enormous improvements to your energy efficiency, though this maintenance procedure doesn’t have to be conducted as nearly as frequently as filters. A household cleaner for the specific purpose of cleaning these coils can be purchased in aerosol cans at just about any home supply store.
How old is your system?
With improved quality technology and services, older systems are becoming increasingly impractical in achieving optimal energy usage. And this is considering mint condition antiquated gear; nearly every aspect of an HVAC system degrades and eventually requires replacement. For example, the differences that an older air conditioner makes can account up to 40% of energy waste.
If either your heat pump or air conditioner exceeds ten years of use, it may be time to start considering new equipment. Fortunately for pragmatists, the cost-benefit approach to investing in new equipment strongly favors homeowners against debt, since improved efficiency and initiatives like the 25C tax credit allows a new system to practically pay for itself after a few years of use. It can also be worthwhile to check to see if your air conditioner is appropriately sized for your property – especially if there have been additions to your residence within the last decade.
I’ve always been a strong advocate that air conditioning is never a convenience that needs to be sacrificed on behalf of a budget. With these tips in mind, it can be easy to make indoor climate control on your side in your family’s battle against debt.
By Jason Wall, a guest writer with over 23 years of professional HVAC service with Griffith Heating and Air.