Energy costs keep rising as the climate pushes thermometers past their averages. Since you have to use your HVAC system to stay cool, the only way to combat high energy bills in Columbia, Maryland, is to improve the efficiency of your system and your home.
Here are five HVAC cleaning tips to increase the efficiency of your HVAC systems and cool your home for less.
Clean and Cover the Outdoor Area Around the Unit
Leaves, dirt, and other debris often build up in your outdoor HVAC unit. Your cleaning list should include clearing away mulch, leaves, and soil from this area. Bushes and plants growing too close to the unit can obstruct it, so cut them back. Be sure that there is at least 1 to 2 feet of clearance around the exterior HVAC unit. Turn off the unit and vacuum it to clean the AC fins.
While cleaning the exterior unit, check the unit’s panels for damage or misalignment. Check the condition of the foam insulation around the refrigerant line between your home and the unit. If something looks damaged, don’t try to fix it yourself; call one of our HVAC service technicians to repair it.
A covered AC is up to 10 percent more efficient than one in the direct sun. Shade your HVAC unit under a tree or with an installed cover.
Clean and Change the Air Filter
Dirty air filters slow air circulation. Follow these steps to change or clean your air filter:
- Check the manufacturer’s instructions to find out whether the air filter you are using can be cleaned and reused.
- Turn off the AC unit and remove the filter.
- If you have a reusable filter, use a vacuum with the correct nozzle to suck all the dirt and dust from the filter. Even if you can’t see a visible change in the filter once cleaned, rest assured, it is cleaner. If you can still see a good deal of dirt attached after vacuuming the filter, give it a wash in your sink. For a larger filter, spray it down with a hose.
- Return the filter to your HVAC unit.
- If you do not have a reusable filter, skip steps 3-4 and instead simply replace the dirty filter with a new one.
Some modern systems are equipped with a cleaning function. Check if your HVAC system has this feature, and then be sure to set it to clean regularly.
Also, remember that despite your regular and careful cleaning, a time may come when your air filter must be replaced. When you notice holes, tears, or damage, replace the air filter.
Seal Air Leaks
Sealing air leaks around your home is a simple chore that can save you money on your energy bill and allow your HVAC unit to work more efficiently. First, visually check your windows and doors for leaks. Be sure to look from both the inside and outside of your home. On the outside, check for places where the old caulking has failed. For older homes, look for spots where the hard putting or glazing that hold panes of glass in place in the window has been damaged.
From the inside, check under each door. If you can see sunlight or other obvious signs that your doors aren’t sealing well, you may need to add weather-stripping. You should also check that any existing weather-stripping around your doors and window is in good condition. If not, replace it.
Use Ceiling Fans
Old-fashioned ceiling fans can assist your HVAC efficiency by creating a cooling effect via wind chill. When cool air passes you, your body sheds heat. The cooler the air is in your home, the better the effect. Use ceiling fans to supplement your AC unit and improve efficiency. With your ceiling fan on, you can turn down the AC a little on summer days and not feel warmer. Because your HVAC unit won’t have to work as hard, you’ll save money on your energy bills.
Ceiling fans can also help your HVAC system in the winter. If you reverse the fan’s direction, it will pull the cool air collecting near the floor up to the ceiling and force the warm air near the ceiling down, making your heating system more efficient. Of course, be sure to clean your ceiling fan to avoid dust spreading around your home.
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