It’s always nice when the warm weather starts; however, this year is a little different. With the current pandemic not going away any time soon, suffice it to say, we will be spending more time indoors than usual this summer. Of course, with more time indoors during the warm summer months, you will also be taxing your HVAC system and air conditioning, so it’s imperative that you spend some time this spring to make sure your HVAC system is well maintained for optimal performance. As important as regular maintenance is to stretch your dollar, we also have some tips for saving you some money around the home.
1. Free your vents
Closing vents in unused rooms or the basement sounds like it makes perfect sense. You close some vents to not waste cool air into areas you don’t use and force it into areas you need to save on energy. However, this common misconception actually does the opposite. An AC unit produces the same amount of air whether your vents are opened or closed. By closing some vents, you are increasing the pressure within your HVAC system. This pressure makes the fan work harder, resulting in a shortened lifespan and use more energy. It can also potentially cause the coil to freeze due to inadequate airflow. Instead, keep your vents open and use other ways to distribute the air (see ceiling fans).
Also, vacuum your indoor vents regularly and keep them from being blocked or covered up. Things like blinds, toys and furniture can disrupt airflow.
2. Clear the way
Your AC unit outside can take some abuse over the winter months, especially if it is not covered. On a side note, if you do use a cover, make sure it is an approved AC cover that is breathable, as trapped moisture can do even more damage to your unit, than any snow or leaves.
Ensure that you clean any debris like leaves, twigs or other small objects that may have fallen into the unit or bent any of the fins before you start it up for the season. This may also be a good time to trim back any plants or shrubs close to the AC unit. Ideally, vegetation should not grow within two feet of the unit.
Vacuum the fins of your AC unit clean with a soft-bristle brush. Note: they’re fragile and can easily be bent or crushed. On many units, you’ll have to unscrew and lift off a metal box to get at them. Check your owner’s manual for directions and lift off the box carefully to avoid bumping the fins. If you think you have possible damage or are just not comfortable working on your AC unit, call your AC technician. Better safe than sorry.
3. Filter and distribute the air
The air filter in your HVAC system works by trapping dust, pollen, and other allergens throughout your home, but during high use can clog and restrict your airflow if not changed regularly. You should ideally check the air filter once a month. If you have a disposable filter, you can replace the dirty filter with a new one. If it’s a reusable filter, simply wash the filter and put it back into place.
Ceiling fans and stand-alone fans help keep your HVAC system energy efficient. Not only does it keep the air moving and distributing it more evenly, it also actually makes it feel cooler, similar to the wind chill effect in winter.
4. Don’t confuse the thermostat
Sometimes, things that cause overuse of our AC aren’t as noticeable. Keep lamps and other heat-producing appliances away from your thermostat. When they give off heat near your thermostat, it thinks that the air in your home needs to be cooled more, causing the system to run longer and work harder than it may need to. If you find that your home is a lot cooler than expected, something as simple as a table lamp might be the culprit.
The same holds true when the sun comes beating in through your windows. Keep curtains and blinds closed in the heat of the day. When direct sun hits the windows in your home, keeping your curtains or blinds closed can keep some of the heat from warming the inside of your home and causing your AC to work overtime.
And also, if you have a programmable thermostat, this may be the time to double-check your settings to make sure they are optimal for your home.
Take it for a spin
It simply makes sense to be proactive during the spring and test your HVAC system after a long period of inactivity over the winter. You want to make sure your AC is running smoothly ahead of the hot summer. That way, if there are any problems, you have plenty of time to call your AC technician and resolve any issues. We suggest let the HVAC system run for an hour or so. Check for any potential issues, like not achieving the set temperature or a noisy unit. If there are any issues, turn off your AC and contact your AC technician right away.
Better yet, be proactive and schedule a yearly preventative maintenance checkup. HVAC systems are complex and should be serviced at least once a year by your HVAC service provider.
Regular maintenance ensures there are no problems with your furnace and that it is running smoothly. Avoid heating unit repairs by contacting LG Home Comfort to know more about how to maintain your furnace and heating unit and save you money.