We all rely on electricity to power everyday life, and, understandably, some devices consume more energy than others. But you’d be surprised by the amount of energy it takes to keep our homes comfortable. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the top two energy consumers in homes are heating and cooling. In fact, HVAC systems account for more than half of the average home’s energy consumption.
Thankfully, there are ways to lower your heating and cooling energy use. Here are a few tips for improving your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system:
1. Seal your home
Your home’s climate control systems use more energy to keep a room at your desired temperature if there is hot or cold air flowing from the outdoors. One of the easiest ways to improve heating and cooling efficiency is to insulate your home and keep air from flowing in or out.
For starters, keep all doors closed when the heater or air conditioner is at work. If possible, close the curtains as well: exposed windows also affect internal temperatures. Your walls should be properly insulated if you want to seal your home properly. You can improve energy efficiency by as much as 20 percent by following this tip.
2. Keep the thermostat properly calibrated
Thermostats have to be calibrated every so often to ensure accurate temperature measurements. A poorly calibrated thermostat can be as much as five degrees off the correct temperature, costing you more money in heating or cooling down the line. It can make a space feel cool even when the heating is on, or force you to crank the thermostat up just to get your desired heat level.
Check your thermostat’s manual for instructions on temperature calibration. Older HVAC systems employ a mercury switch while the newer models use magnetics and screws for calibration.
3. Inspect the economizer
Many HVAC systems have an economizer to lower energy costs and improve efficiency. They’re more common in homes where cooling is important. However, faulty economizers can also lead to increased power consumption due to improper installation or handling.
Inspect the economizer for any signs of damage. For instance, the dampers should be closed. If they’re open, it means the economizer has been tampered with. Another thing you should look out for is visible signs of repair such as dried glue or strings.
4. Turn it off
Consider turning off the HVAC system when no one is at home. There’s no point in keeping the system running if there are no people around to benefit from the heating or cooling.
Of course, there are a few exceptions. If you have valuable art or books at risk of damage, or pets and plants, then you can keep the system on. During winter, you also need to keep the heating on to prevent water from freezing in the pipes.
You can automate the system by installing timers throughout your home and connecting them to the system.
Heating and cooling systems, just like any machine, will eventually break down. These tips will prolong your HVAC system’s lifespan and improve its efficiency. Regular maintenance also goes a long way in reducing your home’s energy consumption.