Getting the best value for money from your air conditioning system is high priority for everyone. Whether you need your home to be cool or warm, you need to ensure that its airflow is efficient enough to run the system effectively and in a cost-effective way.
Although some of today’s smart thermostats are making claims to save money on energy bills, they’re not going to give the best effect if you haven’t optimized your home for efficient airflow. If you’re dreading opening your energy bill, there are a few things you can try to ensure your HVAC system works to cool and heat your house as efficiently as possible.
Avoid Closing All The Vents
If the lower floor of your home generally feels cooler than the upper floor, you might think that closing all the downstairs vents will help to push the air conditioning upstairs. However, this is a very bad idea.
If you close your vents your system will be using more energy since the system will have to work harder, pushing past the higher pressure which the closed vents have created. This is especially true if your system has a variable speed fan which automatically changes speeds. Older systems usually have a fan which operates at a steady speed, however even this is bad news when you close lots of vents as the fan will be slowed down and there will less airflow.
Also, if you don’t have sealed ductwork, the extra pressure may push air conditioned or heated air through cracks and into the attic rather than into the living space. Although you may think that closing vents will do the job, due to the design of HVAC systems, it won’t have the effect you’re hoping for.
Although it seems counter-intuitive to leave your vents open all the time, this is the best way to ensure efficiency and to make sure that your air flow is more efficient around your entire property.
Check Your Air Filter
Although manufacturers of air filters usually tell you that you need to change your HVAC air filter around every 3 months, you might need to do it more often depending on how frequently you run your air conditioning or heating. Check it each week for build up of dirt and debris, and as soon as it begins to look visibly dirty it’s time to change it.
You also need to think about how thick your air filter is. They all come with their own MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) which will be a figure of between 1 and 16. Whenever possible, going for one with a higher number will help to optimize your air flow. 16 is the highest rating and will catch more particles than a lower rated filter, keeping your air cleaner and more free from allergens and particles.
However, not every HVAC system can handle higher rated air filters, so it’s very important to check to make sure that yours can cope with such a thick filter before you use one. While a thick air filter works well to catch allergens, it also restricts the airflow substantially, so your system needs a suitably powerful fan to handle it otherwise you run the risk of damaging your system and causing a costly breakdown.
Don’t Run The HVAC Fan Unless You Have To
Although popular opinion holds that running your HVAC fan all the time, even if your air conditioning isn’t on, will cool your house down more, however it doesn’t actually achieve that effect. Although running the fan permanently will work to circulate the air, it won’t necessarily be any cooler, and, in fact, running your HVAC fan all the time could make the house even more humid and it will also increase your energy bills.
Check The HVAC System Yourself
Although getting your HVAC system checked by a professional is important, you can inspect several of its components yourself to ensure that it’s running properly.
Check the A/C condenser outside and get rid of any obstructions like bushes or shades, and check the flames being produced by the furnace. If they’re flickering orange, you need to get professional help.
Check the air conditioner unit by removing its cover panel and inspecting its evaporator coils and fins. If you see dirt building up, you can clean it or vacuum it, however if you see ice on them, call a professional to help.
Insulate Your Attic
Having good insulation will keep your home cool in the summer months and warm in the winter, and your attic is a good place to start. You may also have poor airflow in the attic, so make sure that you have ventilation in there in the form of exhaust and intake vents. If your insulation is blocking the intake vents it will be restricting the airflow, so make sure that you remove any obstructions.
Improve Your Windows
Although investing in new windows can slash your energy bills, especially if your windows have single panes, there are ways of achieving the same results in a more cost-effective way. Fitting weather stripping around windows and doors and using plastic film to cover the windows in the winter will help to prevent drafts and cut costs.
While you’re looking for drafts, plug any other air leaks that you find around your home. Cracks and gaps can cause cool and hot air to escape outside your home and make your air conditioning system work harder, costing you more.
Closing Doors And Windows
Conditioned air escapes easily from your home if you leave your doors and windows open. We all need to air our homes from time to time, but when you’re doing this, make sure your air conditioner is switched off otherwise you’ll be paying to cool down your whole neighborhood.
Program Your Thermostat
If you’re always adjusting your thermostat your system will run for longer than required and that will lead to more frequent off and on cycles making your home less comfortable. Just program your thermostat to your chosen temperature and then leave it alone
Remember that setting your thermostat at a low temperature doesn’t mean your home will be cooled down any more rapidly, and in fact the system will simply run for longer, driving your utility bills up even higher.
One of the most vital things about optimizing your home’s airflow is ensuring you get your HVAC system checked on an annual basis by a HVAC professional. Having routine maintenance every year will make sure that the system stays in top shape and functioning at its expected level of efficiency.
A qualified HVAC technician will be able to give your whole system a tune up, spot any potential problems before they develop into major issues that could cause a breakdown and make sure that everything is clean and oiled ready to function perfectly.
If you follow these tips, you’ll find that your home’s airflow will be greatly improved, saving you money on the cost of running your HVAC system to cool or warm your house, and keeping your home a more comfortable place to live.