The fall is here. Time for changing autumn leaves, brisk weather, and holiday decorations adorning the front yard. It also means it’s time to check your residential heating and air equipment. Right … we know that as you settle on your couch with a cup of hot cocoa, this may not be the first thing that comes to mind during this time of year. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
Trust us, we know. As industry experts in servicing and installing residential heating and air equipment, Watts Heating and Cooling receives numerous calls this time of year from panicked customers who realize their HVAC system isn’t performing up to par and winter is quickly approaching. Rather than wait until the last minute to check your residential heating and air equipment, here are some things you can do right now to make sure everything runs smoothly so, come wintertime, you won’t be left in the cold.
Change Your Air Filters
One of the quickest and easiest things you can do to improve the airflow of your unit is to regularly change or clean your air filters. It’s a good idea to change the filters at the start of every season, but you may need to change them more frequently, depending on your lifestyle. Homes with pet dander or cigarette smoke may have air filters that become clogged more easily than others. Inspect your air filters frequently and change them when necessary.
Changing your air filters will improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling equipment. This will not only increase the comfort level of your home, but will also save on energy costs during the long, cold winter months.
Adjust Your Thermostat Settings
Take advantage of the cooler temperatures by adjusting your thermostat settings. This will help you save money on your energy bill during the fall season. If you want to continue saving money during the winter months, consider investing in a programmable thermostat.
When you use a programmable thermostat, you can adjust temperatures when you know you’re going to be away from home. You can program your thermostat to return to a comfortable temperature right before you return. This allows you to adjust your thermostat settings so that you can maintain your comfort levels while also saving money.
According to the US Department of Energy, turning your thermostat down 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day can save you up to 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling costs. This is a simple adjustment to make, and the savings can really add up.
Clean the Unit and Remove Debris
If you have an outdoor unit, you’ll want to make sure you clear any leaves or other debris from around the unit. This can inhibit the unit’s ability to work effectively. If plants are overgrown, clear those out as well. Plants should be kept several feet away from the unit.
You’ll also want to see if any branches are hanging overhead. If so, severe weather could knock these branches loose, causing damage to your system. Make sure to trim any overhanging tree branches so you avoid the risk of having them fall on your unit. After any bad storms, check the exterior of your unit for any damage and, if necessary, call in a technician to assess the situation.
In addition to clearing out the debris from around your outside unit, you should also clean out your indoor vents. Now is a good time to assess the condition of your air ducts as well. If they’re leaky, you may need to have them sealed to prevent heat or cool air from escaping. To determine whether this is necessary, it’s a good idea to have an energy assessment performed on your home. Which leads us to our next step.
Schedule a Service Appointment
Now is a great time to schedule a service appointment with your HVAC technician. You should schedule two appointments annually, one in the fall right before winter begins and another in the spring, ahead of the summer months.
Scheduling your service appointments at these times of year will ensure everything is running smoothly before the extreme weather comes. They’ll also give you ample time to fix your equipment if your technician notices something is awry. Regular maintenance also extends the life span of your equipment, reduces your utility bills, and provides a more comfortable indoor environment.
It’s also wise to have your HVAC technician perform a home energy audit. This will allow them to identify areas of your home where you may be losing energy and make recommendations for how to make your system operate more efficiently.
Air Seal Your Home and Add Extra Insulation
An energy assessment will help you determine what steps you should take to make your residential heating and air equipment operate more efficiently. For instance, heat and air often escape from the home through small cracks or crevices. This means you could have the most modern, efficient HVAC unit, but still feel drafts or uneven temperatures throughout your home. If that’s the case, it may be a good idea to have it air sealed.
Once your home is properly air sealed, you may want to add extra insulation as well. Think of insulation as an extra layer of protection. When your home is well-insulated, it keeps your system from going into overdrive to heat or cool your home properly. This means your heating and cooling equipment will operate more efficiently, saving you money and keeping your house comfortable year-round.
The Home Energy Saver is an excellent tool for recommendations on energy upgrades and their return on investment. For more recommendations, or if you have additional questions, feel free to give us a call. Watts Heating and Cooling specializes in residential heating and air products and services. We’ll keep you feeling warm and cozy throughout the winter months and cool as a cucumber during summertime.