You probably notice your HVAC system only when you turn it on. Otherwise, you pay the utility bill each month until it stops working properly. However, an HVAC tune-up and management can keep this essential home appliance from driving up your energy costs. Ignoring proper care of your HVAC unit and making these HVAC mistakes can not only raise electricity bills but also decrease efficiency and ultimately lead to an AC repair or replacement.
Here are 15 easy-to-make mistakes to avoid so you can reap year-round rewards!
1. Not Replacing Old Filters
A cool house during the hot summer months is something everybody wants. But, unfortunately, forgetting to replace the filters increases your energy bill. In addition, continuously using air conditioning filters cause the coils to become dirty and hinder airflow.
As a result, your HVAC system does not perform at maximum efficiency. Not only will you have higher electricity bills each month, but also dirty filters will shorten the life of your unit. Frequent replacement of the air filter has the opposite effect.
You could save money, lower energy consumption by up to 15% and your AC unit last longer.
Typically, replacing filters every month during the summer season is a good idea. However, if it seems the air filter collects excessive debris and dust, you may need to change it more often.
2. Running the AC with Clogged Fins and Coils
Two more essential parts of an air conditioner are the coils and fins, which can get clogged with dust and grime. Both work with evaporators inside your house and outside condensers to absorb and reduce heat. Impeding this necessary airflow reduces their performance.
To avoid clogged coils, never have an HVAC installation that places the system near dryer vents. Additionally, regularly remove grass clippings and fallen leaves. Finally, keep shrubs near the unit trimmed to allow for adequate airflow.
Running the AC unit without checking the coils for grime build-up decreases the efficiency of your unit and the money in your wallet. Cleaning the AC unit before the weather gets warm is a good practice.
3. Placing Your HVAC Unit in a Bad Spot
Although your HVAC unit does not spruce up the landscape, hiding the unit in a Bad spot, such as in direct sunlight, is a mistake. The location of the air conditioner significantly impacts energy efficiency. As such, try having it installed in a shady area.
Otherwise, the system works harder when it faces too much sunlight. Additionally, do not block the sun with plants or shrubs too close to the AC unit. Doing so might clog condenser coils and impede ventilation.
4. Installing the Thermostat Near Heat
Having your thermostat installed in the wrong place is another mistake that creates unexpected increases in your energy bill. During an installation or AC system replacement, make sure the thermostat is not close to heated objects such as a lamp.
Just as you want to protect the outdoor unit, the thermostat should not be exposed to sunlight indoors. Too much heat could give a higher temperature reading in the house. This could make the AC run longer than necessary. Extra energy use translates to a higher utility bill.
5. Using an Outdated Thermostat
While a programmable thermostat may sound like another technology intrusion, it may do wonders in lowering your utility bill. Generally, a programmable thermostat lets you set the temperature to match the activity in your home.
For instance, you can program the thermostat to run the AC at different temperatures throughout the day. Then, on weekday mornings, the thermostat will automatically change when you rush out the door, allowing you to manage cooling with minimum attention.
Many advanced thermostats match your technological proficiency level, such as using an app to change the temperature. An upgraded thermostat, particularly if your current one is a few decades old, is another way to save money on the electricity bill.
Speak with an HVAC expert for advice on choosing one that fits your home’s rhythm.
6. Keeping the Temperature on a Low Setting
Setting the temperature too low with or without a programmable thermostat can raise your electric bill too high. Break the habit of putting the thermostat below 70 degrees because you think that will cool the house faster.
On the contrary, adjusting the temperature to a higher temperature setting saves big bucks on electricity bills. In fact, for every degree you raise the thermostat, it is possible to cut 3% off your energy costs.
Your air conditioner works just as hard to lower the temperature in your house by 20 degrees as it does by two degrees. Therefore, never set the thermostat lower than what you need.
7. Ignoring the Drain
Many AC units include drain lines that are crucial to the system’s performance. Drains collect condensation to prevent moisture issues. If the drain line becomes clogged from moisture build-up, your AC can freeze internally and have difficulty blowing cool air inside your home.
A clogged drain can cause the AC unit to struggle, and surrounding walls and floors may sustain permanent damage if water is not channeled outside. Therefore, keeping the drain line clean is important. In addition, an HVAC technician can ensure gunk does not accumulate.
8. Closing Off an Empty Room
Even though closing off an empty room that few people use seems like an excellent way to save energy, it can make your HVAC system work harder. Keeping your HVAC unit working efficiently means keeping interior doors open.
Generally, a key is having good ventilation since inside air constantly circulates in your home. While hot air rises, cooler air sinks. For example, the intake vent draws the air out of the house during summer.
This same air travels across evaporator coils before returning to your house as chilled air. Keeping the door closed in an unoccupied room traps the air inside whenever the air conditioner is in its cooling cycle.
Closing the door when the AC is not in a cooling cycle starves the room of the airflow circulating throughout the rest of the house. Both situations waste energy and create pressure problems.
9. Keeping the Same Temperature Setting in an Empty House
On one hand, running your air conditioner when no one is at home is an inefficient way to have higher electricity bills. On the other hand, turning the unit off is not an efficient trade-off. This is especially true during hot Carolina days when the temperature inside your home rises.
So, the solution is to increase the thermostat by at least five degrees when you and your family leave for the day. Don’t worry about returning to a warmer house. This simple change only takes approximately 30 minutes to cool down the house when you return.
Fortunately, you can do this with or without a programmable thermostat to ensure the air conditioner benefits your household. A fixed schedule works just as well as manually changing the temperature to save money.
10. Ignoring Drafts and Leaks
Disregarding drafts and leaks cause more heat to escape from your home. To compensate for this loss, your furnace has to work harder to keep your family warm. Keep in mind that your HVAC system is around 40% of your utility bills.
Most cold air enters your home through window sills. Check these areas for drafts, caulking, and weather stripping around exterior doors. The attic is another common area for drafts and leaks.
Neglecting these escape routes means your money goes out the door with the heat. Not only are you paying more, but drafts and leaks create mold-causing moisture. Prolonged exposure to mold puts your family’s health at risk.
Closing drafts and sealing leaks helps to reduce your electricity bill and keep your family safe.
11. Not Using Ceiling Fans
A well-maintained air conditioner has the best cooling power. However, that comfort can come at a price. One way to possibly reduce the monthly bill is with a ceiling fan. While a fan and AC unit work differently, both can keep you cool in different ways.
Fans work to cool you down while the AC cools down your home. Used together, you can use less electricity without sacrificing having a comfortable home.
Typically, any fan helps to keep cool air circulating throughout the house. For maximum effort, install a ceiling fan near the vent. During the summer, run ceiling fans counterclockwise. This pushes the air downward. Place a pedestal fan or tower fan beside or underneath the vent.
12. Installing an Ill-Fitted AC Unit
Paying close attention to sizing requirements is crucial before an HVAC installation. If the unit is too small for your home, it might not regulate the temperature correctly. In addition, the unit will need to work overtime to deliver any level of comfort.
Alternately, installing an oversized HVAC system also leads to an overworked unit. It will turn on and off constantly as it struggles to meet demands. Over time, the unit becomes undependable. As a result, you will find yourself needing another AC system replacement too soon.
Although you might be able to determine a general estimate, calculating the correct size can be complicated. HVAC professionals can carefully size a unit to match the square footage of your home.
13. Running an Older AC Unit
Relying on an inefficient HVAC unit is a quick way to higher electricity bills. A system over 20 years old is the likely driver of high energy costs. Older systems are usually more expensive to operate, requiring frequent furnace maintenance and AC checks.
In most cases, an older HVAC unit consumes an excessive amount of power. Wear and tear over time adds to your repair costs, especially if during an HVAC tune-up the technician has to order hard-to-find parts.
Therefore, consider replacing an inefficient unit with a more energy-efficient HVAC system. The upfront costs might seem daunting but will pay off over time.
14. Not Scheduling Regular HVAC System Maintenance
Whether you have an older or newer HVAC system, keeping up with the maintenance is what counts in having a unit that works when needed. The last thing you want is to pay for an expensive HVAC installation and ignore regular maintenance.
Making sure you stay on schedule with tune-ups, check-ups and repairs are important if you want to stop paying more than necessary on electricity bills. Regular maintenance visits keep your system in good working condition for as long as possible.
During a biannual visit, the technician will:
• Inspect the seals
• Check fuses, wiring and other areas for corrosion
• Evaluate the drain line
• Examine all moving parts for wear
• Replace or repair issues
15. Not Calling an HVAC Pro
Although you might consider yourself the best at DIY projects, there are times with your HVAC unit has a problem that only a professional can fix. These individuals are trained to check specific areas that an untrained eye can overlook.
Additionally, an HVAC professional can spot things early enough before they turn into serious, more costly issues in the future.
Make that routine service call for an inspection and HVAC tune-up. You will be glad you did to prevent outages and an emergency repair!
Take Care of Your HVAC System to Reduce Your Electricity Bills
Not keeping your HVAC system in good working order increases your electricity bills and heating and AC repair costs. If you want to reduce both expenses, stop making the mistakes mentioned above.
Also, make sure you hire an HVAC company that you can trust. Not only will they send technicians to diagnose and repair issues properly, but they will also share cost-saving tips on the best ways to keep your HVAC unit performing at its optimal level for years to come.