Listen, being a homeowner has its perks, don’t get me wrong, BUT it sure is a pain when something goes wrong. One of those things is when you discover your HVAC isn’t working. Nothing like being in the midst of a sweltering Georgia summer and entering your home for some sweet solace in your air conditioning only to find its almost as hot in there as it is outside. I can already feel the sweat beads rolling down my back and since my AC is working, I can only assume they stem from my PTSD of the summer of 2015. Anyway, to aid in potentially avoiding a breakdown, there are some things you can do as a homeowner.
1.) Change your air filter.
One of the most important tips for homeowners is to change your air filter! Pet hair, dust, and dirt become clogged in your filter, thus putting those particles in the air. We recommend at least every 90 days, or it could be even less if you live in an overly dusty environment. If we are talking about your furnace, a dirty filter can cause it to overheat, which can ultimately leads to a shut off. Otherwise, a dirty filter restricts airflow causing your unit to work really hard to circulate air. Unnecessary strain on your unit is definitely not a good thing. Forcing it to work harder could not only cause an issue, it also drives up the cost of your electric bill.
2.) Clean up around your unit.
Surprisingly, what’s around your outdoor unit can lead to breakdown. Make sure around your outdoor unit, you clear any unwanted leaves, branches, grass, and debris to prevent them from clogging or infiltrating your system. This is especially important if you have just experienced a storm or major change in season.
3.) Keep clearance around your unit.
Much like clearing your unit of dirt and debris, if you have or plan to plant any shrubs or other landscape around your outdoor unit, it’s best to plan at least a 12 inch clearance. If you already have existing landscape, be sure limbs are trimmed and cut away from the unit.
4.) Open those vents!
We have heard this time and time again, “We don’t use that bedroom so we close the vent to save energy.”. This would be the perfect time to insert that hand covering face emoji because not only is that completely untrue because you are still using the EXACT same amount of electricity to power the unit, but you are also significantly increasing the pressure load! Closing the vents blocks off the cool air, it also drastically lowers the unit’s performance levels. Moral of the story, open those vents up!
5.) Schedule your routine maintenance
Regularly scheduled maintenance by one of our service professionals is a MUST. There is SO much money tied up in your HVAC system, why wouldn’t you want to protect that investment? With the amount of money you put into it initially, you know repairs and replacement parts aren’t cheap. As a matter of fact, with regular maintenance you’re likely to avoid the most common of HVAC issues. Get the maintenance contract, make the appointment, and breathe a little easier!
6.) Set your thermostat at the optimal temperature.
While this largely depends on personal levels of comfort, did you know your unit actually has an optimal running temperature? This information may be in your owner’s manual, or you can ask your service professional when they are out performing your maintenance what the most energy efficient temperature is. Avoid fluctuating the temperature too much; it causes the unit to work harder and reduces efficiency. One of the easiest ways to accomplish is a programmable thermostat!
7.) Check insulation and seals.
If your home is older, your insulation may not be doing its job. As a result, you lose warm or cooled air. Check around doors and windows and make sure the seals are in good shape and consider putting weather stripping around the doors to prevent any leaks. Windows should be tight fitting, energy efficient, and closed when the system is on. The most common places for drafts in the home are chimneys, windows, doors, attics and basements, and electrical outlets.
8.) Check your ducts.
Just as a general rule of thumb, when you change your filter, take a peak at your ducts. Be sure there aren’t any gaps, cracks, or visible holes. Listen for any whistling or rattling sounds coming from within. You can even go to each section where the duct work connects and place your hand over the metal, if you feel any air on your hand, there is a loose connection, and you have an air leak. This occurs most commonly at the duct joint. According to Energy Star, if you have an air leak, for every dollar you pay you will be paying thirty cents more on your energy costs.
9.) Keep the condenser and evaporator coils clean.
When talking about either your indoor or outdoor HVAC unit, keeping the coils clean is extremely important. This ensures that the airflow is running as smoothly as possible. If you notice your coils are dirty, it’s best to trust the professionals to clean them properly.
10.) Quality window coverings.
This shockingly makes a big difference in energy efficiency! In the heat of the summer, keeping windows closed and closing blinds or curtains reduces your heating costs. On the other hand, keeping the blinds or curtains open during the cooler times allows for sunlight to enter the home. When the coverings and windows are both shut, it adds an extra layer of insulation between the glass and the interior of your home.
For more information on these or any other questions concerning your system, call us at Vital Air. Don’t forget to ask them about the extremely worth it, total weight off your shoulders, maintenance programs that they offer- you won’t be sorry!