If you’ve read part of one of our Crank Up the Heat Series, then you’re basically a home heating pro, right? Well, even if that isn’t totally true, you do have a pretty good grasp on what type of energy-efficient furnace is right for your home. If you haven’t read, read it now for tips on how to pick the best energy-efficient heater to keep your home warm and your utility bills low this winter! But selecting the best heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to manage your home’s temperature is just part of the equation. For that, you’re going to want to read this second piece in order to create an energy-efficient home HVAC environment.
Energy Efficiency Goes Beyond the HVAC System Itself
As you probably already know, your HVAC system is a vital piece of your home’s basic functioning. It helps to monitor, regulate, and control the environmental conditions inside your home. It makes sense, right? HVAC does stand for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning—the main elements of your home’s environmental conditions.
The ideal balance for any HVAC system is that keeps your house comfy (warm or cool, depending on the time of year, and properly ventilated) without expending excess energy or costing you unnecessary money. But often, even the best energy-inefficient heater or air conditioner can waste huge amounts of energy and cost you an arm and a leg. This is because your home HVAC environment has holes in it (literally and figuratively!).
But here’s the cool thing: even tiny changes to your HVAC can make enormous difference in its energy efficiency. Which, leads to the most important question you’re going to ask for the rest of the year—how can you ensure that you have a truly energy-efficient home HVAC environment?
In this post, we’re going to break down the top seven ways youcan ensure an energy-efficient home HVAC environment so your furnace and air conditioner(s) produce maximum impact with minimal energy requirements.
Keep in mind, there are dozens of ways to ensure that you’re saving power, cutting costs, and increasing your HVAC energy efficiency, but we chose these seven because they are tried and true and will give you the best bang for your buck!
The Top 7 Ways to Create an Energy-Efficient Home HVAC Environment
Like we said before, these top seven aren’t the only methods to ensure that you’re running an energy-efficient HVAC environment. But in our experience, these tried-and-true strategies can provide the most return for your time and financial investments.
1. Insulate Your Home
One of the best things you can do to ensure that your HVAC system functions as efficiently as possible is to make sure that your home’s insulation is up to snuff. When you insulate your home properly (walls, windows, roof, and don’t forget the air ducts!), there’s less chance of warm or cool air escaping. So your HVAC doesn’t have to work overtime to keep a steady temperature in your home. Take a look at your walls, your windows, your pipes, and ducts—are you losing valuable air through these avenues? Seal any leaks so your HVAC doesn’t need to work double-time to do its job properly. At the end of the day, it’s possible that your HVAC is doing its job totally fine, it’s just the insulation (or lack there-of!) that’s foiling your energy conservation efforts.
2. Retrofit Your HVAC
If you’re already dealing with a large, antiquated, and energy-intensive system that’s otherwise running well and has been aptly maintained, consider retrofitting that old HVAC system to transform its efficiency. When you retrofit an HVAC system, you’re essentially installing new technology into an older, well-functioning system.
In a way, it’s like replacing an engine in a car—the new engine is going to save you a ton of money on gas but won’t cost you as much money as totally replacing your car. When you replace pieces of your old HVAC system (like the air condenser fan or the compressor, etc.) with new parts that are far more energy-efficient, you can optimize and extend the life of your old system without shopping for and financing a new one (depending on how well your old unit is functioning, your wallet will probably thank you).
3. Outfit Your House with Smart Thermostats
A huge contributor to an inefficient home HVAC environment is—that’s right, we’re gonna go there!—human error.
Come on, we’ve all done it—you leave the house and forget to adjust the thermostat, leaving it way too hot (or in the summer, too cold) and wasting a ton of energy when no one’s even in the house to enjoy it. We’ve done it, too! We can empathize!
But a smart thermostat in your home that links up directly to your HVAC can remove human error from the equation. With a smart thermostat, you can automate temperatures settings and schedules to ensure you never waste more energy than necessary again. Bonus points: you can usually connect most smart thermostats with your smart home hub, LED bulbs, and other smart appliances and devices to help with your overarching energy management.
4. Preserve Airflow By Regularly Cleaning Your HVAC
The more debris and dust clogging up your HVAC, the less efficiently it’s going to run. Believe us, we don’t love cleaning any more than you do, but these are the facts. If you’re looking to keep your energy efficiency high and your utility costs low, we suggest that you preserve your airflow by cleaning out all the gunk in your HVAC on a regular basis. While you’re at it, assess your furniture, rugs, and décor to make sure you’re not blocking your HVAC vents—that will also detract from an energy-efficient home HVAC environment.
5. Invest In Energy-Efficient Equipment
Don’t be afraid to put your money into quality, energy-efficient equipment. Like we told you in Part 1 of Crank Up the Heat, not all equipment is created equal. The fact of the matter is, even though virtually everything uses energy, there are some systems that are specifically designed to reduce the amount of energy they use to do the same job of comparable models. That’s the type of equipment you want to invest in.
If you do replace your HVAC that’s at least 10 years old, you’re likely going to get a system that’s way more energy-efficient. Newer models have a higher SEER rating, which means more HVAC energy efficiency—today’s SEER ratings are around 14-18 (which, compared to the old days, is a big deal). And, of course, with any energy-efficient equipment, we suggest looking for the ENERGY STAR logo!
6. Be Conscious About Maintenance
A functional HVAC doesn’t happen magically. You’ll have to put in the work to ensure you’re scheduling the necessary maintenance to get everything taken care.
Regular maintenance will ensure that your equipment is running smoothly and even prevent larger issues from arising. Schedule your appointments at the end of both heating and cooling seasons to ensure everything is functioning properly. Even though the maintenance costs can feel unnecessary. But we can guarantee it’s a lot cheaper than having to pay for huge repairs and higher-than-necessary utility bills down the line.
7. Don’t Overlook Your Air Filters
As we mentioned above, a clean HVAC is an energy-efficient HVAC. Like we mentioned with cleaning your HVAC, clogged air filters can get in the way of an energy-efficient home HVAC environment. Replacing your air filters regularly can make a huge difference in your system’s energy-efficiency.
Don’t Just Heat Your Home, Create a Heating Environment That’s Energy Efficient
Dropping a ton of cash on the best energy-efficient HVAC elements — furnace and central air conditioning system — can certainly achieve some of the energy savings you’re looking for this year and beyond. But if you don’t create an overarching energy-efficient environment, you won’t realize the full possible savings. With these seven straight forward steps, you can create a comfortable home this winter, spring, summer and fall while at the same time lowering your utility bills. So jot ‘em down, take action, and then share them with your friends!
Have a tip that you’ve learned from your energy-efficient home HVAC environment that we didn’t include? We want to hear it! Share the love in the comments below—your fellow energy efficiency aficionados will thank you!
If it’s advice on other ways to cut energy costs you’re after, like ways you can conserve more energy in your daily routines or energy-efficient gifts for an upcoming birthday, our blog is the perfect place for you to be! Subscribe here to stay in the loop for weekly updates!