HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system provides and manages the cooling and heating of a building. It is a major component of your energy usage in your household. In addition to that, the HVAC system can increase energy usage and therefore costs, if it is not working efficiently. The wear and tear of the system can also affect the life span of your HVAC system. It is difficult to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system and increase its life span, but it’s not impossible.
There are some tricks and tips that can help you to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system. But before that, it is necessary to understand the signs that your AC is not working efficiently, resulting in increased costs.
Some common problems with an HVAC system
Let’s have a look at some signs that mean that your AC unit needs some maintenance.
- Increasing costs: Increase in energy usage and costs suggests that your AC is working inefficiently. In such a case, get your AC unit checked and repaired. Consult professionals for your heavy appliances and improve the efficiency and life span of your HVAC system.
- Short cycling: Short cycling refers to the situation where your HVAC system turns on and off frequently. It causes wastage of energy and wears & tear to the mechanical parts of the system. Short cycling is mostly caused by frozen evaporator coils, resulting in frequent high energy bills for you. It affects the performance and life of your AC unit.
- Unusual noise: If you notice any unusual noise coming out of your AC unit, turn it off immediately and consult a professional. Continued usage without maintenance will lead to further damage and then result in hefty repair bills.
- Thermostat issues: If one part of your house cools but the other part not so much, it may be due to a faulty thermostat. You need to check your thermostat if the HVAC is around 10 degrees off from the temperature you set. A faulty thermostat can also cause short cycling.
- Moisture at wrong places: One other sign that your AC unit might be faulty and not working efficiently is water leakage near it. There can be mainly two reasons for this, first is refrigerant leaks and the other is a broken or blocked drain pipe. In either case, this is a serious problem and should be fixed at the earliest.
How to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system?
Now that we know when to get concerned about your HVAC unit, let’s have a look at some tips to improve its efficiency and life span.
- Change AC filter:
Some dust and dirt can accumulate in the AC filter when used regularly. It increases the workload of your AC causing a decrease in efficiency and/or its breakdown. Remember to regularly check the filter and change it every 1-2 months. It helps in improving the air quality, increasing efficiency, and reducing wear and tear to your AC unit, thus also increasing its life span.
Here are some recommended HVAC air filters for you:
a) AIRx Filters Allergy 16x25x1 Air Filter MERV 11 AC Furnace Pleated Air Filter Replacement Box of 6, Made in the USA
b) Filtrete 14x14x1, AC Furnace Air Filter, MPR 1500, Healthy Living Ultra Allergen, 2-Pack (exact dimensions 13.81 x 13.81 x 0.78)
c) Flanders PrecisionAire 84857.011418 14 by 18 by 1 NaturalAire with Baking Soda, 4-Pack
d) Aerostar Allergen & Pet Dander 16 3/8×21 1/2×1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter, Made in the USA, (Actual Size: 16 3/8″x21 1/2″x3/4″), 6-Pack
- Clean and unblock the vents:
The indoor air supply vents help in maintaining a steady airflow. To improve the efficiency of your HVAC system, make sure to keep the vents clean and unblocked. Vacuum any dirt in the vents regularly. Also, make sure that the vents are not blocked by any curtains, furniture, toys, etc. It is necessary to maintain a clean and steady airflow in the house, to improve the efficiency of your HVAC unit.
- Keep the area around the outdoor condenser unit clean:
Your outdoor condenser unit will work best if it is kept clean. The area around the outdoor unit should also be kept clean and free of any debris or blockages. But cleaning a condenser unit is a tricky thing to do. So, make sure you know what you are doing before starting the cleaning process. To avoid any damage to the unit, it is best to consult a professional for better and in-depth cleaning.
- Clean the drain line:
The drain line is near the indoor cooling coil, and it is usually located over the furnace. Leakages and other serious issues to the AC unit can be caused if the drain line is dirty or blocked. So, keeping it clean is very important. You can clean the drain line with chlorine bleach and water or you can also vacuum it. Clogged drain pipes affect the performance and efficiency of your AC unit.
- Keep shade over your outside condenser:
The strong summer heat can put pressure on the outside condenser unit and make it work even harder to cool your home. Higher pressure causes more wear and tear to the unit. To prevent that, it is better to put some shade over the outside condenser unit, without blocking any airflow.
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- Keep your doors and windows closed:
It is best to keep all your doors and windows closed when your AC is on, to keep the cool air inside the room, and maintain the temperature. Keep the curtains on the windows closed during the daytime so that less heat comes inside the house. Keeping the doors and windows open also puts more pressure on the AC as it has to work harder to cool your house, often causing it to work inefficiently.
- Use a programmable or smart thermostat:
One more way to save energy and improve the efficiency of your HVAC unit is to increase the temperature on your thermostat by a few degrees. It reduces the stress on the system and also helps in saving money. You can also install a programmable thermostat and help your HVAC system. A programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature from anywhere. You can access it with your smart devices. You can also adjust the temperature throughout the day, no matter where you are, and save more on energy.
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Some good programmable thermostat available online:
a) Google T3007ES Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation, Stainless Steel, Works with Amazon Alexa, 1
b) Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat for Smart Home, DIY, Works With Alexa, Energy Star Certified, ST55
c) Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004 Wi-Fi Smart Color Thermostat, 7 Day Programmable, Touch Screen, Energy Star, Alexa Ready
d) ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat, Black, Works with Alexa
- Keep the heat-producing appliances away from the thermostat:
The thermostat manages the temperature of your house, so it is important to place it at the right location. The placement of your thermostat plays a major role in deciding how hard it has to work to cool or heat your house. It adjusts the temperature in the house based on the location it is installed in. Therefore, it is advised to install the thermostat away from high heat exposure. If placed near heat, the thermostat will then cool the place more than what is needed.
- Insulate any exposed ductwork:
Regular use exposes the ductwork to dirt and other air pollutants that might get circulated into your indoor air through your AC unit. So it is necessary to keep the ducts clean. Also, the ducts may leak if not taken care of properly, which will then create bigger problems. It is advised to consult a professional to inspect the ductwork of your house and repair it in case of any problems. They can also insulate any exposed ductwork with professional-grade quality material.
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- Schedule regular maintenance:
If you want to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system and keep it running properly, it is very important to do regular maintenance check-ups once every year. Get your AC serviced by professionals only. They will do the repairs, if required, and prevent you from facing bigger problems related to your HVAC system.
Though heavy electrical appliances are meant for long-term use, their efficiency and performance may go down if not taken care of properly. Similarly, when your HVAC system gets too worked up, it uses more energy and is susceptible to heavy wear and tear. This will ultimately result in hefty repair bills. So, better opt for regular preventive and maintenance check-ups of your machines and stay stress-free and comfortable.