Staying on top of your heating and cooling system maintenance will make your systems run more efficiently and last longer. Here are five ways to save energy that can help cut your heating bills:
- Annual tune-ups: Just like that valuable piece of machinery in your driveway, a heating and cooling system needs annual maintenance to keep on running efficiently. So plan to have a contractor pay pre-season calls (fall for heating, spring for cooling) to address elements in Energy Star’s recommended Heating and Cooling Maintenance Checklist. This is one of the easiest ways to save energy, increasing comfort and making sure your heating system is safe.
- Filter switch: Filters should be checked every month, with extra-special attention during heavy-use seasons. A dirty filter slows down air flow and wastes energy by making your system work harder, and can also lead to expensive mechanical maintenance or even failure if dirt and dust are allowed to build up. At the very least, change the filters every three months, and select the most sophisticated replacement models available for optimum dust screening.
- Program for savings: By installing a programmable thermostat and setting it to match your away-from-home schedule, you can save around $180 in annual energy costs for both heating and cooling systems.
- Seal the deal: Did you know that up to 20 percent of potential comfort escapes through poorly sealed and insulated ductwork? Ducts running through the attic, crawlspace, garage and unheated basement should be first on your maintenance list; use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed tape (never duct tape, as it doesn’t have the required staying power) to seal all seams and connections. Follow with an insulation wrap, and repeat the process with ducts that you can access in the heated or cooled parts of the house.
- Improve home insulation: When correctly installed, every type of insulation contributes to comfort, reduces energy bills and supplements your HVAC maintenance. Insulation performance is measured by R-value, the ability to resist heat flow and adding more is one of the most effective ways ot save energy. The higher the value, the stronger the insulating power. R-value requirements vary for different areas of the home, and the climate you live in will determine overall needs. Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Insulation Recommendations for more detailed tips.