Are you making choices that seem harmless about your homes heating and cooling system, like closing or blocking supply air vents with furniture, or putting off replacing the filter? If so, you’re not alone. However, those decisions may be contributing to comfort issues around your home, like higher utility bills and a shorter life span for your HVAC system. Here are a few common mistakes homeowners inadvertently make, along with ways to avoid them.
Improper Thermostat Settings: Setting the thermostat to extremes throughout the year can lead to higher energy bills and uncomfortable living conditions while you wait for the HVAC system to bring the house back to the desired temperature. Homeowners sometime think they are saving money when they set the thermostat back 8 to 10 degrees while they are gone all day. Programmable thermostats make this an easy habit to adopt. However, the problem that gets created is that at 5 or 6PM here in North Texas, is when our attics are the hottest. Asking your system to lower the temperature 8 to 10 degrees at this time of day, causes it to have to run non-stop for the next 3 to 4hrs to cool not only the air, but all contents of your home, furniture, floors and walls. This run time is at the peak electrical use for your home because you also begin to cook dinner, watch TV, wash a load of clothes, and run the dishwasher. All these tasks add heat to the home and humidity. Raise the temp on your thermostat no more than 3 degrees when you leave for the day. This will shorten your spikes in electric consumption each evening, increase comfort, and prolong the life of your system.
TIP: The best way to save on utility bills year round is to add Insulation to your Attic and/or Crawlspace.
Closing Supply Vents or Blocking Return Vents: Closing vents to rarely used rooms can reduce energy bills, right? Wrong. Closed or blocked vents create negative pressure, which can lead to hot, dusty attic air being pulled in through cracks around unsealed ducts and/or positive pressure which could be pushing conditioned air into attics or crawlspaces rather than into your home. An unbalanced HVAC system works much harder to maintain your temperature settings and causes increased utility bills and shortens the life of your HVAC system.
Cluttered Condenser Area: The outdoor condenser unit is designed to release the heat the refrigerant just absorbed and removed from inside your home, however this is only possible if it is allowed to receive the proper airflow. Dirty coils due to shrubbery, weeds, dust or a nearby cottonwood tree, along with other items within a couple of feet from the HVAC system, can hinder proper air flow. To help achieve peak efficiency, clear away plant matter and other debris on a regular basis, and have a professional clean the condenser coils once a year.
Dirty Air Filters — Regularly changing your home’s air filters should be a top priority to maintain your systems efficiency, internal cleanliness and enjoy better indoor air quality. Filters that are caked with dirt impede airflow, causing the HVAC system to work harder to draw air. This can cause the system to freeze up. Homes without indoor pets can change filters every 90 days, homes with indoor pets should change filters every 30 days.
Irregular Maintenance — Similar to vehicles, home heating and cooling systems require regular preventive maintenance to keep them operating safely, effectively, and efficiently. Add a professional maintenance agreement to your calendar and schedule Fall and Spring check-ups in advance so you don’t forget. You’ll be glad you did when you receive your next utility bill!