You love a home that is warm and welcoming, but not at the expense of destroying your finances for the month. Unfortunately, many homeowners find themselves having to decide between adjusting the thermostat and reconfiguring their budget, when a few simple changes could alleviate both issues.
Here are three ways you are unintentionally straining your HVAC system and tips to save energy and money in the long run.
Blocking Air Returns and Closing Vents
If you are like most people, you might be tempted to snap vents closed in rooms you barely enter, since you don't want to pay to heat or cool a space nobody uses. Likewise, you might not think twice about pushing a sofa in front of air returns, since those vents don't actually provide any real heating or cooling power.
Unfortunately, these simple mistakes can upset the balance of your HVAC system, forcing it to work harder than it should.
Professionally-installed HVAC systems rely on a careful balance to properly heat and cool your home. Air returns help to return unheated and uncooled air back to air handlers, and vents are placed in areas to allow your home to adjust evenly.
By closing vents or blocking air returns, you are unintentionally decreasing air pressure in some places and increasing it in others, creating a vacuum effect that damages your system.
To understand this concept and avoid problems, think of your HVAC system as a whole instead of only considering the way vents in certain rooms impact the temperature.
Because closing several vents on the same floor or blocking air returns could make the space warmer or cooler than the system is trying to regulate, your actions might make your system run longer than it should and drive up your energy costs.
As a general rule of thumb, leave all vents open and never obstruct returns with fabric or furniture. If certain parts of your home seem warmer or cooler than they should be after your system runs normally, consider asking a professional to test your system.
Putting Your Thermostat in the Wrong Place
Does it ever seem like your air conditioner or furnace always seems to be running, even when different parts of your home are at a comfortable temperature? Homeowners may find themselves constantly reaching for the off switch, when the real problem is the location of the thermostat.
Although building codes dictate that thermostats should be placed on interior walls that are less susceptible to outdoor temperature changes, some people make the mistake of installing thermostats in areas affected by things like direct sunlight, appliances, and air drafts, which can trip sensors and make the system run more frequently than it should.
Before you install a thermostat, think carefully about areas of your home that seem the most evenly heated and cooled, and consider having it placed there. Avoid stairwells, especially light or dark rooms, or areas closed off from the rest of the house, such as bathrooms and closets.
Skipping Regular Checkups
Like any other mechanical system, your HVAC unit can develop problems over time due to normal wear and tear. To prevent these issues from damaging efficiency, focus on scheduling routine maintenance.
In the spring, HVAC technicians will check air conditioners for things like refrigerant level issues and grime accumulation on condenser coils. In the fall, professionals will inspect your furnace for problems like block cracks that could be seeping carbon monoxide and pilot light issues that might prevent your system from turning on like it should.
Are you concerned about how your past HVAC mistakes are affecting your indoor climate today? Are you struggling with a home that just doesn't seem to heat and cool effectively?
At Peterson Heating and Cooling, we specialize in helping our customers' HVAC systems run as efficiently as possible. Let our team help you create an ideal environment for your home.