Practical Ways to Increase the Efficiency of Your HVAC System
According to the US Department of Energy, heating and cooling combined accounts for around 50% of the average homes utility costs.
This figure alone makes HVAC systems by far the biggest cost for the average household. Therefore, it’s not so surprising that many people are looking for practical ways to save more on their energy bills.
Ultimately, HVAC system efficiency means doing two things: using less energy and making the most of the energy you do use.
With that said, here are some of the most effective ways to increase the efficiency of your HVAC system.
1. Take Advantage of Thermostats
First things first, you should ensure you are taking advantage of your systems thermostat. Set the system to an appropriate temperature based on your heating needs. Consider factors such as your properties size, the local climate and season as well as how often you are going to be at home.
Programmable thermostats are ideal as they allow you to plan what time and for how long the heating is on for. The best models also allow you to program settings over a seven day period, so that you can have different settings for the weekends and on week days. Remember to review your settings when significant changes occur e.g. during the summer months.
2. Opt for Efficient HVAC Appliances
You may be putting off investing in a new appliance, but the reality is that older HVAC appliances are far less efficient than new models. Ideally, look for a HVAC system with a SEER rating of around 14 and if it has an Energy Star rating that is even better.
Energy Star appliances have passed a series of efficiency tests and are able to save you money on your annual energy bill.
3. Choose the Right Type of HVAC System
Knowing what type of HVAC system to use for your individual circumstances is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider. This will ensure you are limiting your energy use as much as possible, but without sacrificing comfort.
You need to consider factors such as your local climate, the size of your property and electricity vs. gas rates. For instance, if you live in the south east states, a heat pump is your best option, as it provides both cooling and heating and is extremely efficient.
Yet if you live in a northern state, a gas furnace is likely the best choice since there is a relatively high heating demand throughout the year and natural gas is typically cheaper than electricity. There are many different factors to consider, so take your time before making a decision.
4. Insulate Your Property Effectively
Creating warm air on command is obviously not free, so you want to make sure that it stays in your home for as long as possible. Insulation can really help limit heat loss and considering that almost a quarter of heat is lost through the roof, it’s definitely a worthwhile endeavor. The roof, walls and pipework are all key areas worth insulating.
You can purchase insulation materials from most local hardware stores. This includes rolls of fiberglass that can be strategically placed in the crawl space below your roof as well as foam rolls that can be wrapped around pipework. Insulating your walls is a little more complicated and expensive, but if you are serious about efficiency, it’s certainly worth considering.
5. Draught Proof Windows & Doors
Draughts are defined as currents of cold air and can often be observed coming through the gaps between windows and doors. These areas can always seem cooler even when your HVAC system running at optimum efficiency, so they are definitely worth dealing with. Similar to insulation, draught proofing is usually a DIY job and therefore relatively inexpensive.
Draught excluders for both windows and doors are very cheap and easy to install. You can also buy silicone and other types of fillers to deal with gaps around pipework, which may also be the source of troublesome draughts.
6. Get Your System Serviced Regularly
Not only is having a regular service essential for ensuring your system is running safely, it’s often required in order for your manufacturer’s warranty to remain valid. A reputable HVAC technician will carry out a variety of checks on the system and ensure it’s in good working order.
This includes carrying out a load calculation, testing the static pressure and checking the state of your ventilation and ductwork. Doing these can help increase the efficiency of your system and help reduce heat loss as well as unnecessary energy use.
It’s likely that your HVAC system consumes a huge amount of energy every year. In fact, if you are like most other Americans, this will be around 50% of your household’s utility bill.
However, there are steps you can take to ensure the energy you do use goes further and that you limit your systems use as much as possible. By following the simple and practical tips above, you will be on your way to saving energy and money in no time at all.