With energy costs on the rise, now is a good time to review the energy efficiency of your home’s HVAC system. Heating and cooling account for up to half of the energy usage in a typical home. Making sure your HVAC system is working at optimum performance and efficiency is key to decreasing its energy consumption — and lowering energy costs for your home.
Let’s start with five helpful tips — at no cost to you.
- Try new thermostat settings
You may be accustomed to leaving the thermostat at one setting year-round. Try moving it back one degree from your normal comfort level. If that works, back off one more degree, then maybe another — and pocket the savings.
- Keep vents clear and clean
Make sure furniture, rugs, bookshelves, and other items do not obstruct the vents in your home. Regularly vacuum and wipe away dust gathering at supply and intake vents, allowing for unrestricted air flow of your air conditioning and heating system throughout your home.
- Use blinds and drapes to regulate the temperature of your home
Window coverings allow you to reduce heat gains from the sun up to 33 percent.
- Keep lamps and heat-producing appliances away from the thermostat
Heat-producing lights and appliances positioned near a thermostat will send a message to your system that your home’s air needs to be cooled more, causing the system to run longer and work harder than may be necessary.
- Keep the outdoor AC unit free of obstructions
Keep a foot of clearance away from the system and brush off any leaves or debris that may gather on it.
Next, let’s look at other tips that are proven ways to reduce energy cost — and waste.
- Higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating unit
Begun in 1992 by the U.S. government as a way for customers to better understand and optimize their HVAC system’s efficiency, SEER ratings provide one of the best gauges of how much energy your system will use. Higher numbers provide more efficiency. Depending on your home and needs, aim for a SEER rating of 18-20 to save on energy usage.
- Ensure no cracks or gaps in duct work
Any air escaping from holes in your home’s ducts creates a less efficient system, causing a wasteful expense. While duct work may seem static and unchanging day to day, winter heating causes it to expand while summer cooling causes it to contract. This thermal induced motion over time can pull ductwork and seams apart, causing air leaks.A Millian Aire technician can inspect your entire duct system and identify any problem areas and suggest solutions.
- Consider Flex Duct to improve air distribution
Some homes are fitted with a metal duct system, which has an advantage in terms of longevity, but is more costly to install, and to cool or heat the air in your home. Metal ducts create angles, such as 90 degree turns, that are less than ideal for air flow, causing your system to work harder and consume more energy, to force air throughout your home.Flex Duct is a less rigid means of duct work, allowing for more varied degrees of turns resulting in more efficient air flow. Flex Duct is also easier and less expensive to install due to its flexibility, becoming a popular option in new homes and renovations over the past 20 years.
- Replace duct work as needed
Regardless of the duct material used, it is important to replace the duct work once it has exceeded its life span. A Millian Aire technician can provide a free analysis of your duct system and determine whether or not it needs to be repaired or replaced during a visit to your home.Even duct work that’s not showing signs of deterioration may need to be re-evaluated. Existing duct work in an older home may not be the correct size for a newer, more high-efficiency HVAC unit (one with a higher SEER rating, as mentioned above). For example, old duct work might not be large enough to work efficiently with new HVAC systems, restricting the greater air flow of new units. The best duct work avoids such impediments, allowing clear air flow which uses less energy, ultimately costing you less money. Millian Aire technicians can make recommendations on this as well.
- Variable speed systems
Variable speed systems allow your system to choose how hard it must work to achieve the optimal comfort zone you’ve chosen. In the past, systems had two options, on or off. Now, systems like the Trane XV20i have 750 different speeds at which it can run. Based on the current needs of your home, the system will adjust itself, often running fifty percent below the power level of older systems. This fine-tuned approach leads to consistent comfort — and lower electric bills.
- Regular maintenance
The key to discovering and addressing decreased cooling efficiency and energy waste in a system is to have it inspected at regular intervals by an experienced technician.
The average homeowner may not be aware of dirt or debris that has collected on their system’s evaporator, but it’s natural for such an accumulation over time. A quantity of debris as thin as a credit card can diminish efficiency by 60 percent.
An experienced technician can save you money and discomfort when detecting problems during a maintenance visit. Millian Aire offers both annual service plans and individual visits to ensure optimal efficiency of your system.
An additional benefit of the solutions outlined above is that, along with saving you money by reducing costs on energy for years to come, such recommendations will increase the comfort level of your home. An optimized system providing efficient air flow throughout your home at the desired comfort level of your choosing — that’s important during a Florida summer!