Keeping your heating and cooling systems in good working order
means your utility bills will be lower, your home will be more comfortable,
and you’ll need to call for repairs less often.
Before calling for service always check your furnace filter for cleanliness and check your breakers and fuses.
Schedule a maintenance service call before the heating season starts. If there are any problems with your system, it’s better to find out before it’s freezing outside! Do the same for your cooling system before sweltering season begins.
Replace your heating and cooling air filters every month that they’re in use. Operating your system with old, dirty filters means energy is wasted and your system may even be damaged. While you’re at it, check and clean the filters in your home’s air cleaners and humidifiers.
Don’t keep clutter near your furnace. It’s a fire hazard, and may keep your system from operating efficiently.
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your heating system, keep the heating registers and vents throughout the house free of dust, dirt, and pet hair by vacuuming them at least once a year.
Listen for odd sounds when your heating or cooling system kicks in. If you hear anything unusual, get in touch with your service professional so you can head off problems before they become serious.
In winter months, set your ceiling fan at its slowest speed and reverse it in order to gently push warm air down from the ceiling without generating a breeze.
Install attic fans through a licensed certified contractor. They will keep your air conditioner from working too hard.
Whatever the season, you want to keep your comfortable air inside the house. That means caulking and weather stripping doors and windows, around chimneys and flues, and anywhere else inside air can escape. Be sure to check for cracked or broken shingles, crumbling grout, and worn or torn vapor barriers, too.
Inspect the exterior of your home once or twice a year. A good way to remember is to do it when you have your regular, professional HVAC check-up because heating and cooling will be on your mind anyway.
Keep vegetation and debris well away from the outdoor unit of your system. They can block air flow, which forces the system to work harder to produce the same level of comfort. You’ll spend more now … and in a few years, when the equipment fails prematurely and you have to replace it. However, use vegetation to keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. For example, plant a row of trees on the side of your home the wind usually comes from. They’ll act as wind blocks. Because deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter, they’ll let in the sun’s light and warmth in winter; in the summer, they provide cooling shade.
Set the thermostat at the highest comfortable level in the summer and the lowest comfortable level in the winter. A change in one degree changes energy consumption by about 4%. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can make a huge difference in how the temperature feels.
Install a programmable thermostat. It will automatically adjust the temperature at night or when you’re not going to be home for a long period of time.
In the summer, keep drapes and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house during the day. In the winter, open them to take advantage of solar heat but close them at night to help block cold air (even if you have insulated windows).
Insulate attics, crawl spaces and basements.
Use a gas fireplace or put glass doors on a wood-burning fireplace. (Be sure to check with the manufacturer first – some small fireboxes with zero-clearance flues cannot be outfitted with glass doors.) Keep the damper closed whenever you’re not using the fireplace.