Warm up your HVAC system before the weather gets too cold
The air is turning crisp, the leaves are starting to fall, and you’re breaking out your sweater collection. But is your HVAC system ready for cooler weather? Use these fall HVAC efficiency tips, from replacing your filter to sealing your windows, to get your system ready for the cooler months.
1. Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance
Setting up a maintenance schedule for your HVAC system not only helps it run optimally during hot and cold weather, but it’ll likely prolong your system's life span. Ideally, you should hire a local HVAC company to inspect your system twice per year: once before it gets cold and once before it gets warm for a pre-season HVAC service call.
Your pro will check your system and clean it, and they'll let you know about any major issues that need to be addressed. Tune-ups run in the neighborhood of $70 to $100.
2. Replace Your Filter Monthly
Changing your air filter is one of the easiest fall HVAC efficiency tips that’ll keep your HVAC system running smoothly for the season. The reason is simple: When the filter is dirty, the system has to work harder to push air through, putting more stress on the system.
When more stress is placed on your system, your energy bill goes up. In fact, you can save 5% to 15% on energy bills by changing your filter regularly, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Your family’s health will thank you, too, especially if there are allergy or respiratory illness sufferers in the household.
3. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Investing in a programmable thermostat is a wise choice for the winter. Setting the heat low when your family is out of the home and when you’re sleeping can save you money on your energy bills. Many new models also have Wi-Fi capabilities and apps, so you can turn your heat up and down remotely if you forget.
4. Seal Your Leaky Windows
Here’s another easy and effective fall HVAC efficiency tip that can prevent a lot of energy waste: sealing your windows and doors. Heat escapes easily through small gaps and cracks under doors, so invest in some weatherstripping and door stoppers to keep the heat in and the cold air out.
If your ductwork has gaps, you can use aluminum or electrical tape to patch those holes.
5. Keep Your Unit Clean
If you have an outdoor unit, make sure it’s clean and free of debris, like sticks and leaves. Any sort of debris can get in the way of airflow, so keeping the grates clean all season is a must. You can also hose down the unit to remove dust and grime from the compressor coils, but make sure you cut the power to the system beforehand.
6. Unblock Your Registers
One of these easiest fall HVAC efficiency tips you can implement today is to check how you’ve positioned your furniture. Heavy furniture can get in the way of airflow in your home, especially if it’s placed in front of or on top of the registers.
Before autumn comes, get all of your heavy furniture away from the vents so the heat can flow freely through your rooms.
7. Inspect Your Furnace
Given that your furnace will start to do some heavy lifting when the cooler months hit, fall is a great time to inspect it to ensure it's in tip-top shape for the season. Before switching your furnace on, inspect the blowers and burners, and remove any dust or debris that might've built up during the warmer months.
Then turn your furnace on to make sure it's in working order. Since it likely hasn't been on for a while, it might take longer than usual to get warmed up and work at optimal speeds and efficiency, so give it some time to adjust to being on.
Once it's been on for a few minutes, take note of any unusual noises or odors. If you notice anything concerning, it's a good idea to call an HVAC pro to come out and service it to ensure it's in great shape for the cold season.
8. Inspect and Clean Your Ducts
Since your ducts circulate air through the home, you want to make sure they're free and clear to do so effectively, especially during those months when your HVAC system is working the hardest. So when fall hits, spend some time inspecting your ducts for any blockages to improve your HVAC’s efficiency for fall.
Blockages force your HVAC system to work harder, reducing its efficiency and life span, so it's best to clear them as soon as you notice them. After clearing blockages, use a vacuum to suck up dust and other debris from your ducts. Then finish by wiping these areas down with a damp cloth to collect any residual dust from the vacuum cleaner.
9. Check Your Attic’s Insulation
Poorly insulated attics are notorious for reducing an HVAC system's efficiency since they can release too much cool or warm air, depending on the season.
To ensure proper performance, one of the crucial fall HVAC efficiency tips on your list should be to inspect your attic's insulation for any potential leaks or damage.
If you notice any damage, hot or cold spots, or areas where air might be able to leak, call a local attic insulation contractor to update your insulation and ensure your attic is all sealed off.
10. Consider Replacing Your Old System
Unfortunately, no HVAC system lasts forever. HVAC systems' life spans usually range from 15 to 25 years with proper maintenance. If yours has been giving you trouble and it's at least 15 years old, it might be time for a replacement. HVAC systems typically cost $5,000 to $12,500, which isn't a fun bill for anyone to pay.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing your old HVAC system with a more energy-efficient system can save you 20 to 40 percent on your monthly energy bills, so it's a worthwhile long-term investment.
If you’ve followed these fall HVAC efficiency tips and you’re still seeing high bills or lowered performance, call an HVAC repair technician in your area to diagnose the problem.