- Adjust Your Thermostat: Take advantage of programmable thermostats. Especially if you have a furnace, set your thermostat to automatically turn the heat down at night and when you’re away. If you have a heat pump, use your smart thermostat to turn down the thermostat in the winter when you are away and at night when you are asleep, or to turn it up a few degrees in the summer.
- Use Your Windows: Add curtains to windows to reduce heat loss by 10%, according to Energy.gov. During the winter, open your drapes or blinds on the south side of your home to bring the heat of the sun into your home keeping it warm. In the summer, keep your blinds and windows closed to block the heat. If you have blinds, close them completely to reduce heat gain by 45%. If you have drapes, switch them out for medium colors with white-plastic backings to reduce heat gains by 33%. Let shrubbery and plants grow over the windows or add awnings to provide shade, which can reduce heat gain by 77% on west-facing windows.
- Keep HVAC Registers Clear: Your HVAC system uses energy to take air in, heat or cool it, and then push it through your home. Don’t make it work harder to get your home to the set temperature by placing obstacles over the heat registers. If you have furniture blocking the registers, rearrange the room to improve air circulation.
- Block and Damper your Fireplace: If you’re not using your fireplace, make sure to close the flu, preventing heated or cooled air from escaping through the chimney. Besides using the damper, you can install glass doors around the fireplace, or invest in a chimney balloon.
- Only Heat/Cool the Rooms You’re Using: If you have a storage or guest room that isn’t being used, block and shut off the registers for those rooms using less energy to keep unnecessary areas warm/cool, leaving the main areas of your home comfortable.
- Use Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans can be an excellent way to reduce your heating and cooling costs year-round. In the winter, you can use your ceiling fans to cut costs by changing the ceiling fan’s rotation to clockwise and set it to low, circulating warm air that’s risen to the ceiling back down to the living area without creating a draft. In the summer, make sure your ceiling fans are going counterclockwise and pushing cooler air down. Using your ceiling fans in the summer can make it feel 6 degrees cooler in your home, letting you increase your thermostat 6 degrees higher, saving on energy costs. But remember to turn them off when you leave a room to avoid wasting energy.
- Lock Windows and Doors: When you lock your windows and doors, they are usually pulled tighter against the weather stripping of their frames. This can help seal the windows and doors from leaks and won’t let the cool or warm air out.
- Replace Your Filters: A dirty filter makes your HVAC system work harder and reduces efficiency, increasing your energy use. Change your HVAC filter at least every three months, if not every month in the hottest and coldest seasons. According to the US Department of Energy, changing your filter can lower your energy consumption by 5-15%.
- Find and Seal Leaks: In the winter, as much as 38% of your home’s heat can be lost through leaks in ductwork, and around doors and windows. Sealing leaks can help minimize wasting money on heating and cooling your home. By sealing the ductwork in your home, caulking around windows, replacing the weather stripping around the outside or bottom of your doors, and insulating around outlets and pipes, you can help reduce the amount of leaks in your home, thereby saving you on heating and cooling costs year-round!
- Maintain Your HVAC System: Energy Star recommends regular maintenance and getting tune-ups on your HVAC system to ensure your HVAC system runs efficiently. This can not only increase efficiency and save you money on your HVAC bills but it can help prevent more costly problems in before they cause major damage to your system. Learn more about getting a system tune-up here.
Heat Pump Maintenance:
- Dirty filters cause the system to work harder, leading to higher energy costs. Check air filters monthly and clean or replace when dirty.
- Ensure there is at least 18 inches on all sides of your outdoor unit clear of snow, ice, shrubs, and debris.
- Keep the coils on your outdoor unit clean. Apex Heating and Air can clean the coils with an approved cleaner to ensure your unit is running at top condition.
- Call Apex Heating and Air to schedule an inspection of your heat pump before the cold weather sets in.
More Energy Savings Tips:
- Invest in a programmable smart thermostat and set it to turn the heat down when you are out of town or away from home. This easy home upgrade can cut energy costs by up to 12% and will continue to reduce AC costs in the upcoming spring and summer.
- Install weather stripping around doors and windows to help keep the cold out.
- If you have a traditional fireplace, be sure the flue is closed when not in use to avoid heat from escaping. Similarly, avoid leaving bathroom fans, range hoods, and exhaust fans running for long periods as they will suck heat from your home.
- Take advantage of the world’s best natural heat source — the sun! Open curtains of windows facing the sun during the heat of the day, then close curtains to hold the heat in.
- Reverse your fan’s blades to a clockwise rotation to help push the warm air down to where you are.
Have your summer cooling costs been creeping up despite keeping a consistent temperature on your thermostat? Sometimes the fixes are simpler than an AC unit in need of maintenance. Try these ideas first and then call Apex Heating and Air to handle the rest.
A huge factor in a warm house and an overworked AC unit is the amount of sunlight seeping through your windows. Luckily this is an easy fix. Adding window treatments that can be closed during the hottest parts of the day help trap the cool air inside and keep the warm air out. This can also be done with ‘solar screens’ or mesh window screens that prevent the UV energy from entering your home. It packs a double punch by keeping your home cool and preventing floors and furniture from fading in the sun. Another option is to create more shade around your home by planting trees and shrubs. Similar to the screens and window treatments, trees and shrubs prevent sunlight from entering your home. They also create shady space outside for more comfortable outdoor living.
A programmable thermostat is another great way to save on heating and cooling. Being able to program the temperature of your home to a higher temperature when no one is home can save you tons of money. This ensures your house is only being cooled for the times that people are in it. There is no sense in cooling an empty house! Most programmable thermostats come with detailed installation instructions, but if you need help with installation, Apex Heating and Air is just a phone call or email away!
The best way to save on home heating and cooling is to have an energy audit done. This evaluates how efficient your home is in its energy use. Everything from age and efficiency of your AC unit, to air leakage from windows will be evaluated. A home audit really does ensure that you’re not ‘cooling the neighborhood’ along with your home. Apex Heating and Air can perform a home energy audit for you, as well as maintain or install new AC units to make sure your home is as efficient as possible — saving you money in the long run!
Discover issues before they become a problem by calling Apex Heating and Air Conditioning today at (919) 467-8823 to schedule a checkup, or signup for our annual maintenance contract.
Neglecting HVAC maintenance ensures a steady decline in its performance while energy use steadily increases.
The main purpose of preventative maintenance is to keep your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system up and running all season long with no surprise breakdowns—all while operating at top efficiency. You rarely see your HVAC system, so it’s easy to forget about it and its importance.
Imagine doing the same with your car: Without scheduling regular oil changes, rotating the tires, or performing basic tune-ups, you can’t expect it to last very long. Your HVAC system is the same way! The price or brand name of the system’s manufacturer doesn’t matter—it’s a complicated piece of mechanical equipment and requires occasional tune-ups. A smart homeowner can greatly reduce the incidence of repairs by keeping on top of annual maintenance.
Now that summer has ended, it’s the perfect time to prepare your HVAC system for the cold with a bit of TLC.
Homeowners should schedule a professional HVAC system maintenance once in the spring for cooling equipment and again in the fall for the heating system. Between these visits from the professionals, plan to complete a few maintenance tasks yourself. The following DIY tasks can help keep your equipment running smoothly until the next visit from the pros:
- Before the first frost, test your heater to see if it runs. Contact a professional if you don’t feel any warm air coming from the vents.
- Check the pilot light if you have a natural gas system. The flame should always be clear blue. A yellow or orange flame could be a sign of a problem.
- Change your furnace filters each year. Dirty filters cause the unit to work harder to push the warm air through the filter, causing your unit to run less than efficiently and possibly break down.
- As with air conditioning, make sure there are no drapes, furniture, or plants blocking the vents. Proper flow of air from the vents will ensure that the heat coming from the system will reach all spaces that need it.
- Clear any obstructions from outside vents to allow for proper air flow.
Prep You Should Leave to the Pros
With the change of the seasons, your heating system needs more than just regular maintenance. A professional service technician will provide a complete maintenance inspection and recommendations based on the condition of the equipment. His understanding of the most common winter failures can provide a starting point to help determine whether a repair or replacement is needed.
A technician will:
- Check for the correct amount of refrigerant;
- Test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector;
- Capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system, instead of illegally releasing it to the atmosphere;
- Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems;
- Measure airflow through the evaporator coil;
- Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure the heating and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously;
- Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a non-conductive coating if necessary;
- Oil motors and check belts for tightness and wear;
- Check the accuracy of the thermostat;
- And so much more.
As you can see, annual HVAC system maintenance is something you should take very seriously. Schedule a visit now to protect your family, improve efficiency, prevent possible breakdowns, and to save money! Heating and cooling systems seem to have a way of breaking down when the weather is at its worst—on the coldest night of a frigid winter or during a sizzling summer heat wave—times when your comfort system must work the hardest and you need it most. Conducting regular HVAC preventive maintenance with knowledgeable professionals is the best way to ensure trouble-free operation and optimum performance all winter long.
For more information on preparation for the winter months, call (919) 467-8823 or (919) 367-0102 or click here.
(Sources: U.S. Department of Energy; HomeAdvisor, Inc.; HGTV.com; HVAC.com; Direct Energy, Inc.; and HVACmaintenance.org.)
General Household Summer Cooling Tips
Did you know that over 50% of annual energy costs come from a home’s heating and cooling system? The following energy efficiency tips could save you a significant amount on your summer cooling bills.
Energy Saving Tips:
- Setting your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher can save you money. Keep in mind that a single degree of change on your thermostat can increase or decrease your energy use by 3 percent to 5 percent.
- Use ceiling fans or portable fans in addition to your air conditioning system to aid in the cooling effect. Be sure to turn off fans when no one is in the room.
- Keep windows, drapes and blinds closed during the hottest times of the day — generally noon to 5pm.
- Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to reduce the amount of hot or moist air circulating in the house.
- Programmable thermostats can save you money when you are away from home at work.
- Clean or replace air filters as recommended by manufacturers once a month or as needed.
- Make sure all your ductwork is tightly sealed and there are no leaks.
- Have your heat pump coils cleaned by a professional to ensure the system is operating at peak performance. Call us at 919.367.0102 for details.
- An annual maintenance contract with Apex Heating and Air can extend the life of your system significantly and ensure your system is ready for the summer heat.
Call us at 919.367.0102 or contact us using our website form.
Apex Heating and Air Conditioning
1231 Perry Rd Suite 106
Apex, NC 27502
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