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5 of the Best HVAC Investments You Can Make
With heating and cooling accounting for roughly 50% of your home’s energy consumption, things that decrease your monthly energy costs or help your HVAC to be more efficient are the best investments you can make. Here are the 5 best ways to optimize your HVAC investment:
1. Adding Attic Insulation
Close to 30% of your energy costs are due to heated air rising and escaping out the attic (during cold weather), and warm air coming in causing your air-conditioning to work harder (during warm weather). Laying insulation is an easy DIY project which can be done in a weekend with fairly inexpensive materials. It is the one most cost-effective thing you can do to improve comfort and lower your bills year-round. Tip: When laying insulation, don’t forget the attic access door, including weather stripping!
2. Upgrade Your Thermostat
Using a programmable thermostat is one of the best investments you can make to your HVAC system. By automatically setting the temperature down a few degrees when you are away and while you are sleeping, you could save up to 10% per year on energy costs year round, without sacrificing comfort. Upgrading your thermostat can be a DIY project, with companies like Honeywell and Nest offering installation tutorials on their websites, and it takes only minutes. Some new thermostats can be controlled using a smartphone or voice control, and can learn your habits or sense when you’re home, and adjust the temperature accordingly. Tip: Check out our posts on the new crop of thermostats here: Smart Thermostat Comparisons, Giving Away Smart Thermostats, Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat Case Study, Smart Thermostats, and Results of Our Smart Thermostat Poll. Let us know if you need help installing one!
3. Get Your HVAC Serviced
Money Magazine states that regular HVAC system maintenance is one of the best investments you can make. A professional inspection twice per year can find and fix minor problems before they turn into major ones, and makes sure your system is tuned up to operate most efficiently. Get your system checked before air-conditioning season in the spring, and before heating season in the fall. The bottom line is that regular HVAC maintenance saves you money! Tip: The easiest thing you can do to help maintain your system is to change out the filters on a regular basis. See our posts: Air Filter Fundamentals, Selecting an Air Filter, Are More Expensive Air Filters Better?
4. Replace Your HVAC System
If your system is more than 10-12 years old or has become a maintenance hog, you’re best served by investing in a new HVAC system. Since the R-22 refrigerant used by older systems has become increasingly expensive and scarce, an upgrade to a new unit that uses R-410A coolant makes sense. Plus, a new HVAC unit will offer greater efficiency, making your monthly bills much lower (see our post What’s Your SEER?). If you are buying or selling a house, there is no doubt that an up-to-date HVAC system is an attractive value – and an old HVAC system a significant deterrent. On the fence about replacing your system? See our posts Repair vs. Replacement, and Repair/Replacement – What’s the Real Question?
5. Beyond the HVAC System
Some of the best HVAC investments are things you can do which will lessen the need for your HVAC to work so hard. Using ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat 4 degrees without sacrificing comfort. Replacing windows with energy-efficient ones, and using caulk and weather stripping around windows and doors will save energy year-round. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with LED lights, which generate less heat. Use curtains or blinds inside and landscaping (trees) outside to lessen the amount of sunlight into the home, particularly on south-facing windows. This can save you up to 25% on summer energy costs. Despite what you may think, closing vents actually strains an HVAC system, resulting in more energy use, not less, so keep them open! Need to section off an area of your home? Consider zoning (see our post Is Zone Control for your HVAC the Answer?).
Let Interstate AC Service help you make wise investments when it comes to heating and air-conditioning. If you live in the Nashville or surrounding area, give us call at 615-832-8500.