You might be in the middle of your “spring cleaning” list, but did you include prepping your air conditioner for the summer heat? Now’s the time to address regular HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) maintenance, so it’s running efficiently as the temperatures tick up.
You can tackle some of these yourself, while others need to be addressed by a professional. Read expert tips to keep your HVAC cool and efficient this summer — and as a result, reap the savings on your energy bill!
- Clear debris from around the outside unit. Leaves, branches, toys, and other debris can build up around your HVAC unit. Clear anything away that impedes air flow.
- Check your filters indoors and out. Filters help keep dust out of the HVAC system, allowing the unit to work more efficiently. When filters get clogged, the unit has to work harder to keep cool, causing damage to parts and costing the homeowner more money in cooling and maintenance.
Most homeowners can easily change their outdoor and indoor filters. Feel free to call a technician if you have questions. Consider these tips below.
- Outdoor filers:
- Find the filter. Outdoor air conditioner units have a filter that can be tricky to find depending on the type of unit. Some are in a marked panel, while others are in return air ducts. Read how to find and change different types of filters.
- Make sure you have the right filter to replace.
- Change the filter or clean it if it’s reusable..
- ENERGY STAR recommends changing your A/C filter once a month during peak season, which may be surprising to most. Set a reminder to check and change. Pro tip: Furnace filters are separate from your A/C filters.
- Consider a higher MERV filter that allows fewer particles and contaminants in the home. Make sure you don’t get a rating that’s too high for residential use, which could restrict airflow.
- Indoor filters:
- Ensure you have the right size.
- These should be changed every 90 days or more frequently if there are pets or residents with allergies or respiratory conditions.
- Write the date on the filter when you change it to remember your schedule.
- Clean the vents by gently brushing away any dust or debris.
Get a professional HVAC tune-up.
- An annual inspection by an HVAC professional helps identify any potential problems and performs preventative maintenance. Since heating and cooling are the biggest electricity costs in your home, this investment is worthwhile. Professionals diagnose common or possible issues, know lasting solutions, and often address issues quickly without the guesswork. Experts recommend springtime check-ups.
Make sure your home is well-sealed.
- No one wants to pay for cold air leaking out of your home through gaps and cracks. Conduct a DIY home energy audit to check for leaky doorways, windows, and areas that need weatherstripping, sealant, or repair. Your HVAC won’t have to work as hard if it’s cooling a well-sealed home.
Be smart with your thermostat and temperature control.
- The most energy-efficient way to run your air conditioner is to set a steady temperature setting when you’re home, but not overly cool it when you’re away. The U.S. The Department of Energy recommends 78 degrees when you’re home and several degrees warmer when away. If that’s too warm, just keep in mind that a big fluctuation could cause your system to work harder, making it less efficient.
A smart or programmable thermostat helps you set a program if you have consistent “away” hours or to control your home’s temperature from an app on your phone. Also, your home won’t cool faster if you lower the temperature significantly when you get home, so set it to the target temperature so as not to overwork the HVAC.
Utilize other energy-efficient ways to keep your home cool.
- Keeping rooms cool will help give your A/C much-needed assistance. These are low-cost ways to save money on cooling and wear and tear on your HVAC.
- Use ceiling fans if you’re in the room (but turn them off when the room is empty).
- Close blinds or curtains in the heat of day.
- Don’t use big-energy appliances, like dishwashers or clothes dryers, during peak heat and usage times, like hot afternoons.
- Keep inside air vents open and uncovered (rugs, furniture, etc.). Many people try to shut off a room’s vents if it’s unused, but this is actually not an energy-efficient way to save. Your HVAC is sized for your home and closing off rooms can actually make it work harder for air to flow through the ductwork.
- Use dehumidifiers, whether it’s in a single room or installing a whole-house dehumidifiers. The sticky moisture in the air makes it feel hotter, driving you to adjust the thermostat lower.
Being proactive about your HVAC is wise, time-saving, and money-saving for the long run. Start your HVAC checklist now to keep it cool and efficient all summer long.
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