5 HVAC Upgrades That Will Save You Money and Keep You Comfortable

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated April 28, 2022
A couple sitting on the sofa in the summer
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Shopping for HVAC upgrades should be a breeze, but with all the new bells and whistles available for today’s heating and cooling equipment, it can be hard to decide what you truly need. Make sure your home is prepared come heatwave or blizzard with these HVAC upgrades that are actually worth buying.

1. Upgrade Your Thermostat

There are three types of thermostats, and, frankly, some just work better than others. Non-programmable or manual thermostats are among the oldest technologies for running your HVAC system. While they’re more affordable than other options, you don’t necessarily save money in the long run. 

Upgrading your thermostat to a programmable or Wi-Fi/SmartThermostat could make all the difference in your energy bills. Check out these upgrades in more detail:

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats have—you guessed it—programmable settings that your HVAC to come on or turn off according to a schedule. This can make a huge difference in homes that are cool in the mornings but scorching hot by midday. 

Many programable thermostats have a weekday setting and a weekend setting, but it really depends on how much you’re willing to invest in your thermostat. Lower-end, more budget-friendly programmable thermostats don’t have as much customization as you need to see the most savings. 

Higher-end options come with unnecessary features geared toward aesthetics and user comfort more than energy savings. It all depends on what you’re hoping to get out of your upgrade.

Wi-Fi/Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats use Wi-Fi to connect to your smartphone and enable you to change the setting with a simple swipe, no matter your location. This option is perfect for homeowners who often find themselves on business trips or have a vacation home. 

Some smart thermostat features might hike up the price without offering you any savings. A few “nice-to-have” features include touch-screen controls, climate adaptation, vacation mode, and backlit display panels. If you’re hoping to save money on your upgrade, try to avoid the technological gimmicks that are more for show or fun than legitimate savings.

2. Install a Whole House Humidifier and Dehumidifier

A mother breastfeeding her baby with a humidifier next to a plant
Photo: visualspace / E+ / Getty Images

Buying a whole-home humidifier and dehumidifier system is an upgrade worth considering. Whole-home humidifier and dehumidifier systems help maintain a comfortable and safe living standard by keeping your home from becoming too humid or not humid enough.

Low Humidity Problems

Beyond getting “static zapped” when you hug a loved one or get off the couch, low home humidity levels invites in a host of problems, including dry eyes and skin, allergies, nose bleeds, sore throats, dust, and even cracked wood. You can ditch the dust bowl by installing a humidifier in the house.

High Humidity Problems

But having a humidifier might not be enough. Weather changes often, and so does the inside of your home. That’s why it’s a good idea also to have a dehumidifier for your home. A dehumidifier decreases the humidity level in your home. High humidity causes mold and mildew, stuffiness, and damage to your wood furniture and floorings, to name a few.

3. Choose a Reasonable MERV Rating

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, which determine how well your filter captures air particles. Residential filters have a MERV rating between one and 16; a higher number indicates a better filtration mechanism. But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to your HVAC system. 

For example, filters with very high MERV ratings can often mean your system has to work harder to pull air through the filter. It traps small particles, but it’s also so dense that air might struggle to get through. Unless you have severe allergies or asthma, a filter with a MERV rating between five and 10 is energy-efficient and effective at filtering out particles.

4. Inspect Your Ductwork

Ducts are the airways of your home, and like our own airways, we tend to not think about breathing regularly; it just happens. Therefore, you understand how problematic it could be when ductwork gets clogged, damaged, or disconnected. Air leaks allow money to slip right through the cracks, while obstructions force your system to struggle to push air through your home. 

It’s important to schedule air duct cleaning every three to five years. If there’s no problem with your ducts, you can upgrade your ducts by installing in-duct air purifiers. This will help keep your indoor air clean and healthy.

If your ductwork needs repairs, hire a local HVAC professional to seal all ducts to keep leaks away. You want it done right the first time to keep your system running efficiently for years to come.

5. Replace Your HVAC System

Your inspector might break the news during your yearly HVAC inspection that your HVAC system is on its last leg. When this happens, your best option is to take the plunge and invest in a new reliable HVAC system. But don’t just buy any sleek, new system with all the bells and whistles. More isn’t necessarily better for improving your HVAC system’s efficiency.

Energy-efficient HVAC systems save you money by using 8% less energy than a brand-new conventional HVAC system, but they also increase the value of your home. Choose an ENERGY STAR-certified HVAC system with a high seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating and energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating to ensure your system will give you the most return on your investment. 

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