When the temperature starts to drop in the Northeast, HVAC systems go into overdrive to keep our homes warm. But if your home or your HVAC unit isn’t properly protected and prepared for the winter months, things can get chilly and expensive in a hurry.
Here are five simple tips to keep your HVAC system running smoothly and efficiently this winter:
Schedule regular maintenance: The US Department of Energy estimates that the difference in energy consumption between a well-maintained heat pump and one that’s not regularly serviced can be as much as 25 percent. Annual maintenance appointments keep your HVAC system running effectively, can make the unit last longer, and even prevent costly repairs.
Keep air vents clear: A big mistake many homeowners and businesses make is not keeping supply and return air vents clear. This is an HVAC performance as well as a safety issue, particularly in homes with baseboard heating. Clear vents allow air to circulate easily through the HVAC system and keep it operating optimally.
Also, there’s a myth that closing vents will save money – this is definitely not true. Closed vents force the same amount of air through fewer exits, which increases the pressure in your air duct system. Almost all homes have some leaks in the ductwork and more pressure means more air is forced out through these leaks. This impacts the system’s ability to deliver heated air to all your rooms, which translates into higher utility bills.
Replace air filters regularly: Homeowners should replace their air filters about every 30 to 90 days. They may need to be replaced more frequently if there are pets or more than a few people living in the home. Dirty filters decrease the amount of warm air the HVAC unit can circulate through your home and negatively impact indoor air quality. A really dirty filter may impact system performance enough to prompt a service call where the first thing the HVAC technician will check is, you guessed it, the air filter.
Pro Tip: – when you replace a filter (which is a simple slide the old one out, slide the new one in process) use a marker to write the date on it so you can keep track of when it’s time for a replacement.
Check the thermostat: If you have a programmable thermostat, when things start getting colder it’s time to check and reconfigure the settings. Make sure it’s set to keep your house warmest when people are home and awake. Setting a lower temperature for certain times of the day saves the HVAC system from the wear and tear of working overtime and will keep your utility bills more manageable.
Should your outside HVAC unit be covered for the winter?: The truth is that these outside units are built to handle summer heat and the winter freeze. You may want to cover your HVAC in the Fall to keep the leaves out of the unit, but as part of your annual maintenance, the technician will make sure it’s clear. If you still feel the need to cover it don’t break the bank. A piece of plywood or other material will do the trick.
Jack Hall Plumbing & Heating has been the local HVAC contractor you can trust for almost 40 years. We’ve installed heating and cooling units across the Northeast in Glens Falls, Queensbury, Lake George, and Saratoga Springs. To learn more about HVAC options or questions on annual maintenance for your home or business, contact us today at (518) 792-7114.