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Central heating and air conditioning have made our lives much more pleasant. But a consistent, even flow of heat or air conditioning in your Westminster, Maryland, home isn’t something you should take for granted. Don’t make energy-wasting mistakes with your HVAC system like skipping regular HVAC system maintenance, closing or blocking vents in your home, and improperly positioning your thermostat.

1. Skipping Regular HVAC System Maintenance

Before the start of the warm- and cool-weather seasons, have your home’s HVAC system checked by one of our Griffith Energy Services HVAC professionals. Deciding to skip regular HVAC system maintenance could allow problems such as malfunctioning parts inside your system to go undetected. With malfunctioning parts present, your HVAC system could be working harder than it should to heat and cool your home, which, in turn, can impact your system’s energy use.

2. Closing or Blocking Vents

Take a look at the rooms in your home. If your rooms have grates or grilles in the floors or walls, then your house is probably heated through a forced-air heating system. In this system, air gets heated in a furnace, blown through ducts into each room to displace cold air, and collected into return ducts to go back to the furnace.

Blocking vents with furniture or other objects hampers the free movement of heated air from the furnace into the rooms of your home. Keep furniture, curtains and houseplants away from all vents so that the air can flow freely.

3. Shutting Doors to Rooms Inside Your Home

Westminster homeowners with forced-air heating systems also need to be conscious about doors in their homes. In rooms without return vents, a situation that’s more common in older houses, closing doors doesn’t give air a chance to return to the furnace.

When air isn’t able to re-enter the furnace, the return-supply cycle gets disrupted, causing your furnace to work overtime and waste energy. Not only will this extended use of the thermostat create undesirable hot spots in some areas and drafts in other areas, but it can also affect the overall lifespan of your heating system. Even if you’re not using a room, keep the door to that room open to allow a free flow of air.

If you have an older home and you find that you have an insufficient number of return vents in your rooms, you can do an easy upgrade on your own. Trim off about an inch from the bottoms of the doors so that the doors don’t completely seal off rooms.

4. Ignoring Your Home’s Ductwork

Your home’s ductwork is the delivery system for cool and warm air to the rooms of your home. Problems with your home’s ductwork can impact the way your HVAC system does its job. Every two to five years, ask an HVAC professional certified by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association to inspect your home’s ductwork. Smokers and people with multiple pets in the home should have their home ductwork inspected more often.

5. Improperly Positioning Your Thermostat

You may not give much thought to the spot your thermostat occupies in your home, but, like real estate, location is everything.

Avoid areas that will bring your thermostat into contact with heat sources. Thermostats can sense heat from appliances, floor lamps, or television sets. When the thermostat picks up on false sources of heat like these examples, the thermostat will cause your air conditioner to run longer than necessary to cool your home. The best spots for thermostats are in areas that aren’t exposed to intense sunlight or heat sources.

6. Repeatedly Adjusting the Temperature Settings on Your Thermostat

If you think you’re doing yourself some good by repeatedly adjusting the temperature on your thermostat, think again. Setting the thermostat lower than the temperature you want when you first arrive home from running errands or work wastes energy and won’t cool your house any faster.

To save energy, consider installing a programmable thermostat. This type of thermostat will enable you to tailor your home’s heating and cooling system to your daily needs, which can keep you from having to repeatedly adjust the temperature settings on your thermostat.

Programmable thermostats can also enable you to arrange temperatures according to a preset schedule. This feature is useful if you’re someone who doesn’t always remember to turn down the heat in your house before you leave to go to work or do some shopping. New programmable thermostat technology can also enable you to remotely raise the temperature at specific times of the day, such as right before you arrive home from work.

7. Forgetting to Change Your Air Conditioning Filters

When was the last time you checked your air conditioning filters? Dirty filters lead to dirty coils in your air conditioning system. Those dirty coils will impede the exchange of heat, resulting in higher energy bills and reduced cooling efficiency, which could shorten the life of your air conditioning system. Change your filters at least once every month or two, depending on your home’s environment.

If you have allergies or you’re concerned about your home’s indoor air quality, consider replacing the standard fiberglass filter on your home’s central air conditioning unit with one that can remove small particles — dust, pollen, and smoke — from the air. You’ll find two types commonly available: media filters and electronic filters. HEPA (high-efficiency-particulate-air) filters do exist, though they’re usually too finely woven to work well with residential HVAC systems.

8. Improperly Sizing an Air Conditioning System for Your Home

If you’re building a new home, take time to consider the size of your home and the size of the air conditioning system you plan to install. Central-air systems, which work in tandem with a home’s heating system, use parts of the furnace and ducts for the heating system.

When you need to determine the capacity your central air conditioning unit needs, check with one of our Griffith Energy Services HVAC professionals. Our service professionals know the climate in Carroll County, Maryland, and we’ll be able to help you take your home’s ductwork and layout into consideration.

Make sure that any air conditioner you choose gets sized appropriately for your home. A unit that’s too small won’t remove enough heat and humidity from the air, particularly during the peak of the summer. One that’s too large for your home will cycle on and off too often. When this short-cycling occurs, you’ll not only feel uncomfortable inside your home, but you’ll also be wasting energy by having the system continually cycle on and off.

9. Operating an Outdated Air Conditioning System

In older homes, you may be dealing with an air conditioning system that may be more than 20 years old. Age on a system not only impacts the amount of repairs that you may need to make over time, but also the amount of energy that the system expends to cool your home properly.

With help from one of our Griffith Energy Services professionals, you’ll be able to determine whether your air conditioning system is at the end of its operating life and needs replacement. With a new air conditioning system in your home, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of energy savings.

10. Allowing Your Landscaping to Compete With Your Outdoor HVAC Unit

Central air systems have both an evaporator (cooling coils) often found in the furnace and a condenser located outdoors. Both of these parts can also be found in a single outdoor unit as well.

When your air conditioning system is operating, the system expels heat to the outdoors through the condenser unit. If you’ve planted shrubs or ornamental grasses around the condenser, you’ll want to make sure you keep an area around the unit free of interference from landscaping, leaves, weeds, and other debris to allow air circulation. When warm air isn’t expelled properly, your system will use more energy as it works harder to keep your home cool.

Understanding the operating requirements of your home’s HVAC system and dedicating time to a simple regimen of preventive care and professional HVAC system maintenance can help keep your home inviting and cut down on your energy bills. Start today with a call to one of our knowledgeable Griffith Energy Services home comfort specialists: 888-474-3391.

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