The 411: HVAC Tips and Tricks to Save on your Electricity Bill This Summer

by Ben SanfordAugust 14, 2017

6 Ways to Make Your HVAC Run More Efficiently

The only thing worse than the heat and humidity of summertime is the massive energy bill you get every month from running your home’s HVAC system day and night. For many households, the added expense of air conditioning is expected, but the constant running of your AC places immense strain on it, which could wind up reducing its lifespan and creating even higher energy bills than normal.

Many homeowners are conflicted because they don’t want to sweat all summer long, but they also don’t want outrageous energy bills. Luckily, there are some measures you can take to help make your HVAC system more efficient. An efficient-running air conditioner will not only save you money on your energy bill, but it also helps extend the lifespan of the unit because it won’t have to work as hard.

Here are six tips and tricks that will help your HVAC operate more efficiently this summer. Do them this summer and every summer after for the best performance possible out of your system.

#1: Change the HVAC’s Air Filter

Changing your HVAC system’s air filter is one of the cheapest, but most important things you can do to help keep your system running efficiently — and best of all, even the least handy homeowner can do it.

Just turn off your thermostat, remove the old air filter from the furnace, and replace it with a new one sized to match. Make sure you insert the new filter with the arrow printed on it pointing in the direction of the air flow.

The air filter should be replaced at least every three months, but monthly replacements are recommended if you have a lot of pets or if you want your system to run as efficiently as possible all year long. We’ve also got information on how to change your HVAC system’s air filter.

#2: Clean All of Your Home’s Vents and Intakes

Vents are grates where the cold air blows out; intakes are usually larger-sized grates through which the system pulls indoor air in. Both of these can get congested with lint and other debris, and when this happens, it restricts the air flow in your home.

This causes the HVAC system to run harder and the result of this is a less-comfortable home and a higher energy bill. Be sure to clean them at least once a week.

#3: Open All of the Vents in the Home

It was once thought that closing the vents in unused or empty rooms would help to reduce the home’s cooling needs. But, this is now known to be false. Your HVAC system is specially designed to operate with all of the vents open. Closed vents will force the system to work out of balance and this can reduce the HVAC’s efficiency.

#4: Clean the Grills on the Outdoor Unit

If you look at the outdoor part of your HVAC system, you’ll notice thin grills surround the compressor. These grills are designed to allow air in to the compressor so the exhaust fan on top of the unit can use it to expel the high levels of heat being produced by the compressor.

If the grills get clogged with dirt, sand, or other debris or weeds grow up around it, the air flow will become restricted and this will cause your HVAC system’s performance to suffer while also putting your compressor at risk of malfunctioning well before it should.

#5: Keep the Outdoor Unit Away From Direct Sunlight

If the outdoor unit is in a place that gets hit with direct sunlight throughout the day, you should plant some shrubs or trees or install an awning over the unit to help keep it out of the sun’s rays. Just keep in mind that if you plant trees or shrubs near your unit, you will have to be vigilant about ensuring tree limbs or shrubbery don’t get into the unit.

#6: Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

If you’re still using an old mercury dial thermostat, your system will run according to whatever temperature you have set. This means it’s keeping your home at that temperature while you’re away for work and when you’re sleeping. By investing in a programmable thermostat, you can create a custom heating and cooling plan for your home based on when you’re actually home.

For instance, if you have your air conditioning set at 74 degrees in the morning, you can program the temperature at 85 degrees during the hours when you’re at work. Then, you can program it to cool the home back to 74 about a half hour before you get home.

With this type of thermostat, you’ll always have a cool home waiting for you and you won’t have to pay for energy that’s being wasted on cooling the home when you’re not at home to enjoy it.
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About The Author
Ben Sanford
Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.