One of the best ways to save money on your energy bills is by scheduling annual preventative maintenance for your heating and cooling equipment. When performed by a trained professional, seasonal tune-ups keep your system running more efficiently and also extends longevity. General cleaning not only prevents costly repairs but is necessary for the safety of your family. The average six-room house collects 40 lbs of dust each year. Air ducts accumulate sizable deposits of dust over time. The debris reduces the efficiency of your heating and A/C system and also causes physical discomfort and illness by degrading the quality of the air you breathe. It is estimated that half of all upper respiratory illnesses are caused by poor indoor air quality.
- Make sure to clean or replace filters on furnaces and air conditioners one a month as recommended. Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators regularly, and take care that they are not blocked by carpet, drapes or furniture.
- When installing a new furnace, check for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR models on the market today offering upwards of 90% AFUE. For air conditioning, search for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The allowable minimum is 13 for central air conditioning, but many ENERGY STAR models are well above 15 SEER.
Install a programmable thermostat for convenience and change the batteries regularly. When you are asleep or normally away from home, set your thermostat accordingly. You can save as much as 10% per year on heating and cooling by adjusting your thermostat seven to ten degrees Fahrenheit from its regular temperature for eight hours a day. Consider leaving the thermostat’s fan switch on “auto” so the fan runs strictly when the furnace or air conditioner runs. Setting the fan to “on” keeps it running all the time, regardless if heating or cooling is needed.
- Prepare your home to withstand temperature variations and weather conditions. Protecting a building from the elements, particularly sunlight, precipitation and wind, reduces energy consumption and improves HVAC efficiency. Insulate attics and crawl spaces. Seal air ducts, cracks around windows and doors and even light fixtures. Install screens so you can open windows and doors in summer. Open draperies in winter to take advantage of afternoon sun. Close them in summer to block sunlight. Take air conditioners out of windows in winter. Run ceiling fan in reverse in winter. Warm air rises. Most fans come with a switch to reverse blades to push warm air from ceiling to down. Use fans in summer to help with A/C. Circulating cool air makes it feel cooler, but make sure to shut them off when no one is in the room.
Small adjustments around the house can lead to big savings when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Give us a call and our trained comfort specialists will be happy to discuss more ways you can improve energy efficiency!
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