It’s already September! Back-to-school has come and passed, and before you know it winter will be here. The heating and cooling effectiveness of your HVAC system is important during all seasons, but winter is one of the worst times to have to deal with problems with your home’s heating system. During the summer, a faulty HVAC system can cause great discomfort in the sweltering heat, but you can’t take the edge off a freezing winter with tower fans and ice water.
To ensure that your home is nice and cosy for the season, it’s best to begin preparing for winter as soon as possible. Here is some advice about how to prepare your HVAC system for the cold months ahead:
The Impact of Winter
The harsh weather conditions during Maryland winters can cause big problems for your family if your HVAC system isn’t operating at peak efficiency. Snowfall and cold winds threaten the longevity of your system so it’s imperative that you proactively conduct any necessary maintenance to make sure it’s in peak condition well before the first snow hits.
Maintain Your HVAC System
First of all, if you don’t do this already, you need to get into the habit of changing the air filters on your HVAC system regularly. It’s typically recommended that you change filters once a month, although the ideal periodicity depends on the specific system and how much you use it. You know best how often you circulate cold or warm air throughout your house, so if your consumption seems above average take extra care to stay on top of the filter rotation.
Another thing you can do to test if your system is working during this fall is using your thermostat to give your heating a ‘test run’ before the cold temperatures hit. A few quick tests to see if your system can rise to the temperature you set are a great idea to do as a preliminary evaluation of your HVAC system. If it takes too long, or cannot seem to reach the temperature you set, you should call a professional to address the inefficiencies before your system is needed on a daily basis.
Reduce Your Energy Bills
Keeping your HVAC system in good working order is one of many things you can do to reduce your energy bills. Prioritizing laundry items, sealing and repairing drafty areas, and turning off appliances when they’re not in use are some other useful tips for cutting down on utility costs. Just make sure you’re not like many consumers who buy into myths about energy that just won’t die.
One way to keep your energy costs down in winter is to acquire a programmable thermostat that allows you to switch your heating on and off in accordance with your lifestyle. For example, if you’re an early riser working nine to five, there’s no sense having the heating on at two in the afternoon. Similarly, if you work from home and enjoy sleeping in late, you can avoid turning your heat on until approximately one hour before you get out of bed.
If you have a furnace and want to reduce your energy bills during the cold season, think ahead and have a furnace inspection done in the late summer or fall. If a furnace isn’t properly maintained, it will consume more energy trying to perform its job, and you’ll soon see the results of this in your utility bill.
There are a number of things you can do yourself with regards to HVAC maintenance. If you have a dual system, the system’s cooling functionality experiences a great deal of stress during the summer, so once the temperatures begin to drop you should conduct a maintenance check. Getting your air conditioning ready for the winter is one thing, but you also need to make sure it is free of dust and debris for the next year. Winter is actually a good time to evaluate repair for your air conditioning system if you have a separate heating system, because you won’t be requiring cold air during any potential down time.
Although there are some valuable things you can do yourself to bolster system efficiency, there is other work that you would be best advised to leave to the professionals. First of all, if you’ve had your current system for a while and think it’s not running at full capacity despite your regular maintenance efforts, you may have to choose between getting your HVAC system repaired or replaced.
There are a few signs you can look out for to help guide your HVAC repair vs replacement decision. Consider how long you’ve been living in the house so that you can estimate the age of the system. If it’s ten years or older and consistently doesn’t respond well to small repairs or maintenance, replacement may be the best option. Additionally, if you notice huge energy bills no matter what you do or how economical you are with your system, this is a tell-tale sign that it has seen its best days and needs replaced.
Many homeowners deceive themselves into thinking that having the repairman out to their home regularly instead of having the system replaced with a new, modern model is a smart way to save money. Unfortunately, homeowners typically end up spending a lot more in the long run when putting off needed installation of a new HVAC system. Don’t forget, you’re not only spending money on regular repairs, but every energy bill you get in the mailbox is bigger because your system is no longer effective.