April showers bring May flowers and often June, July and August heat waves. If you’d like to enjoy your HVAC cooling system to the fullest this summer without breaking the bank, Spring is the time to take a few simple steps to prepare.
First Things First
Why not do a test run of your cooling system right now? See how well its working and troubleshoot any issues before the thermometer soars way out of sight. Besides safeguarding your comfort, you’ll be able to quickly get professional help for problems that are beyond your DIY scope. Rule of thumb: HVAC technicians are almost invariably easier to get hold of during the off-peak season and their rates may reflect this.
Next, go outside and inspect the exterior unit for debris, dead leaves, and plant growth that have the potential to block the airflow.
Make sure you check your HVAC filters regularly. During heavy summer use, the filter swill likely need to be washed or replaced about once a month (possibly more if you live in an especially dusty area). While you’re at it, dust the grates as well. Clean the evaporator coils annually, straightening any bent ones.
Schedule your annual HVAC tune-up if you are due for one. A system that is over 10 years old may be costing you more in electricity bills than it is worth, especially if you live in an area with long, hot summers.
Save Electricity … and Cash
Use your HVAC systems programmable thermostat to schedule operation for times when you are at home. Efficient use of this handy device can save you a pretty penny in utilities.
For further savings, set the thermostat a few degrees higher than you normally would and use a low-energy-consumption fan to help circulate the cool air. Ceiling fans should be switched to turn in the correct direction (counter-clockwise); this directs hot air upward and away from the center of the room.
Keep Cool Air In, Hot Air Out
Prevent leakage of precious cool air by sealing around the HVAC units and your ducts seams and connections. Then, wrap the ducts in insulation. If the ducts pass through an attic space, consider insulating that too. Sealing and insulation require a certain amount of effort but will be well worthwhile in energy efficiency both summer and winter.
It’s recommended to seal around windows, doors and baseboards also or even to replace windows if necessary.
Close your windows and drapes during the day to exclude the hot air; then open them at night, if possible, for ventilation. You may wish to install interior or exterior blinds, shutters, shades or awnings, particularly on south- or west-facing windows. Additional energy effective window treatments such as reflective films and insulated panels are available as well.
This article originally posted on WHEC.com.