Trying to save on monthly energy bills? The first place to look is your HVAC system. Heating and cooling your home accounts for the lion’s share of your overall monthly energy usage.
The good news is that there are quite a few ways to increase your HVAC energy efficiency and lower your monthly electric bill.
To help you save money this summer, we’ll share 8 free or relatively inexpensive ways to get better HVAC energy efficiency. We’ll also share 2 ways to invest in your home’s HVAC system and ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible.
In this blog we’ll cover the following top 8 tips:
- Scheduling regular maintenance
- Installing smart or programmable thermostats
- How to practice efficient thermostat habits
- Installing energy-efficient window coverings
- Checking and changing your filter regularly
- How to maintain your indoor unit
- Why you shouldn’t close your air vents
- Using ceiling and other household fans
- Additional ways to increase your HVAC energy-efficiency
Need an instant efficiency boost? Schedule HVAC maintenance.
Regular HVAC maintenance can immediately boost your HVAC system’s efficiency, lower energy bills, and prevent breakdowns. If your HVAC system needs maintenance, trust the experienced team at Michael & Son. Not only is our work backed by thousands of 5-star reviews, we also offer our signature HVAC tune-up for just $59.
Cheap or free ways to increase HVAC efficiency
Tip #1: Schedule regular maintenance
The number 1 way to ensure that your HVAC system is running as efficiently as possible is to keep it well-maintained.
During HVAC maintenance, a professional will clean the system as needed, replace the air filter, apply lubrication on critical components, check for and correct minor inefficiencies, and more. To keep your HVAC system in tip-top condition and keep your energy bills low, we recommend maintaining your HVAC system twice a year—once right before cooling season and once right before the heating season.
The good news is that it’s possible to get a high-quality HVAC tune-up at an affordable price. For example, Michael & Son provides HVAC tune-ups for just $59.
Tip #2: Install a smart or programmable thermostat
A smart or programmable thermostat can help you lower energy bills by automating your HVAC schedule. For example, you can set up daily and weekly schedules on a programmable thermostat that automatically raises the thermostat when the home is typically empty (i.e. during work/school hours).
Some smart thermostats can even learn your thermostat habits and implement more energy-efficient schedules on your behalf.
These thermostats typically cost anywhere from $100 to $200, with professional installation raising the price to around $250 or $300 in total.
Tip #3: Practice efficient thermostat habits
Even if you install a programmable thermostat (or already have one installed in your home), it will only save you money when you use it correctly. And by that, we mean you should be using it to implement more energy-efficient thermostat habits.
For example, energy.gov suggests using a programmable thermostat to set up schedules that turn your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting. By doing this, you can save up to 10% on energy costs throughout the year.
Tip #4: Install energy-efficient window covering
Installing the right window coverings can make a huge difference in your monthly energy bill.
According to energy.gov, installing insulated cellular shades can reduce unwanted solar heat through windows by up to 80% in the summer months. This type of window covering contains honeycomb cross-sections with air pockets that act as insulators.
Other energy-efficient window treatments include window quilts, roman shades or window film.
Tip #5: Check and change your filter regularly
When your air filter is clogged, it forces your AC to work harder and longer to cool your home. That said, making sure that your air filter is clean can lower your monthly energy bills.
So how often should you change your air filter? Well, it all depends on how often you run your HVAC system, whether you have pets, how many people live in your home, etc. However, a general rule of thumb is to check your filter every 3 months and replace it when there is a thin layer of dirt/dust.
Tip #6: Maintain your outdoor unit
Your outdoor unit needs plenty of “breathing space” as it is responsible for collecting the heat from inside your home and dumping it into the outdoor air. If your outdoor unit is dirty or surrounded by foliage, its efficiency will be greatly reduced.
We suggest checking your outdoor unit every few months and clearing any debris or foliage stuck in the coils. You should also ensure that there is always a 2-foot clearance between your outdoor unit and any vegetation.
Additionally, if you notice that your outdoor unit coils are covered in a layer of dirt, you can use a garden hose on a gentle spray setting to clean it. However, if there is a thick layer of dirt, we suggest having the unit professionally cleaned.
Tip #7: Don’t close your air vents
Most homeowners mistakenly believe that they will save money if they close AC vents in unused rooms. However, this can increase your monthly energy bills and lower your system’s lifespan.
When vents are closed, it increases the pressure inside your home’s ductwork. This can increase the amount of conditioned air that escapes the ducts via small holes/cracks. Not only does this lower your system’s efficiency and lifespan, it decreases your comfort level throughout the home.
Tip #8: Use your ceiling or other household fans
Whether you’re heating or cooling your home, running a ceiling fan or other household fans can help distribute that conditioned air evenly throughout the house. This even distribution of cool/hot air can help cut back on your HVAC system’s run times, saving you money in the long run.
Additional ways to increase HVAC energy-efficiency
Invest in Duct Sealing
According to Energystar.gov, 20%-30% of conditioned air is lost to leaks and holes in the ductwork in a typical home. The more duct leakage occurs, the more money is wasted every month on conditioned air that never makes it into your living spaces.
Duct sealing can be an effective way to reduce duct leakage and increase your HVAC system’s efficiency. Duct sealing can be a financial investment, however, as it costs anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000+ depending on the size of the home and the sealing method used.
Replace your aging/inefficient HVAC system
As HVAC systems age, they lose efficiency. If your system is 10+ years old and takes longer to cool/heat your home to a comfortable temperature, it might be time to consider preemptively replacing it.
Typically, after 10-12 years, it’s cost-effective to replace your HVAC system with a newer and more efficient model. Replacing your system is an investment, yes, but it’s worth considering the amount of money you’re saving every month via a new system that consumes less energy.
Schedule HVAC maintenance for an immediate efficiency boost
Regular HVAC maintenance lowers your monthly energy bills and prevents breakdowns, and extends your system’s lifespan. And when you schedule your HVAC tune-up with Michael & Son, you get high-quality service and a complete written report of what was done—all for just $59.