man changing dirty hvac filter

Do You Make These Home Heating & Cooling Mistakes?

You want to do all you can to save on your heating and cooling bills, and it starts with recognizing any bad habits that are keeping those bills high. The following are a few common mistakes people make inadvertently that increase the cost of keeping their homes comfortable.

1. Closing the Air Vents

Many people online recommend closing vents in any unused rooms to save money and energy. At first, it sounds like common sense. However, the problem is that if your HVAC system has no zoning capability, it will continue circulating air through all the ducts with equal force regardless, saving you no energy or money.

Closing too many vents is kind of like trying to run while keeping one nostril closed. It causes the HVAC system to work harder than it should have to, which puts premature wear and tear on it. Overworking from a lack of airflow can even cause your equipment to break down. All the while, your energy costs will keep going up.

2. Leaving the Same Air Filters In

Ensuring smooth airflow is one of the primary ways to reduce your energy consumption. When your HVAC unit has enough air moving through it, it doesn't strain to do its job but instead reaches your set temperature efficiently. If your system's air filter is clogged, it will interfere with airflow while also allowing pollutants into the HVAC unit, worsening its performance.

Depending on the type of filter you have, you should regularly clean or replace it. Most homes can make do with pleated air filters, which need replacing every 60 to 90 days. You should consider replacing them sooner if you own pets or if the area you live in is particularly smog-infested.

3. Neglecting HVAC Maintenance

If you neglect the air filters, chances are you're neglecting to maintain the HVAC unit as a whole. This is one of those steps best left to a professional. In fact, if your unit comes with a manufacturer's warranty, the warranty most likely requires professional maintenance to stay valid.

During a tune-up, a technician can identify any number of issues that compromise heating and cooling performance and prevent you from saving on energy costs. These can include:

• Thermostats that are not calibrated

• Dirty filters and moldy vents

• Loose electrical connections

• Dirty evaporator coils (for cooling)

• Clogged condensate drain lines (also for cooling)

4. Having the Wrong Objects Near the Thermostat

Let's say your thermostat is calibrated: in other words, it can accurately read temperatures. Still, the "brain" of your HVAC unit can wind up working against you. If you've placed a heat-generating appliance nearby, the thermostat may not start up the heater when you want it to. You may also get higher energy bills than necessary if you've installed the device near a drafty door or window. This may cause your heater to work longer than necessary because your thermostat “thinks” your house is cold.

5. Cranking Up the Thermostat

Another mistake people make is cranking up the thermostat when the home has become extremely hot or cold. The idea here is that setting the thermostat to an extremely high or low temperature will make the system heat or cool faster. In reality, all this does is cause the system to run longer.

6. Letting Your Home Get Too Hot or Cold

Running a system longer than necessary is bad, but so is not running it at all. The one feeds into the other. Rather than confront the HVAC unit with a massive temperature fluctuation, you should have it switch on every so often even when you're asleep or away.

Having a programmable thermostat can make this step especially easy. A smart thermostat goes a step beyond, learning your temperature preferences and coming up with an energy-efficient schedule based on that. A smart thermostat can sense when no one is home and adjust temperatures accordingly.

Contact Service Specialties Today

Heating and cooling are responsible for nearly half of your total energy consumption, so it literally pays to be proactive in reducing the expense. At Service Specialties, our biannual maintenance program can increase your HVAC system’s efficiency and even its lifespan. Call us today for details about additional program benefits: (703) 991-0909.

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