Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, or HVAC, is extremely important to the comfort level of your home. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of false information out there about how to care for your HVAC system and the best ways to conserve energy. Here are some of the most common myths you’ll find about your HVAC system, and the truths that will keep you comfortable in any weather.
- Closing the Vents in Empty Rooms will Save Energy. This one sounds like it makes a lot of sense, but unfortunately it doesn’t work. Closing vents has the potential to increase air pressure in the air ducts which can cause leaks at their seams.
- The Location of the Thermostat Doesn’t Affect Heating or Cooling. If you put your thermostat too close to vents, radiators, or windows, it may cause the system to continuously shut down before it’s supposed to or leave it running for too long.
- You Should Cover Your Outdoor Unit During Winter. If it’s expected to snow, you should place a board over your system’s fan, but otherwise it’s best to keep the area clear. Covering a unit can trap moisture and speed up corrosion. Also, try to keep it clear of surrounding plants as they can hinder air flow. Keep plants at least 3 to 5 feet away, but see if you can’t keep your unit in the shade as it will then use approximately 10% less energy.
- You Only Have to Change Your Filter Once a Year. Though that would be nice, it is recommended that you change your filter every six months, and even more often if it’s in constant use, subjected to dusty conditions, or you have pets that shed. Dirty filters can block airflow and reduce your system’s efficiency, but changing the filter routinely can lower your HVAC energy consumption by 5 to 15%.
- Turning Your System Off When You Leave is a Waste of Energy. Many people believe that turning your AC up or you heat down a bit saves more energy than turning the whole thing off when you leave. In reality, it is always more beneficial to switch off your system when it’s not being used. Programmable thermostats are worth the investment as you can set them to automatically turn off at your usual time of departure in case you forget.
Of course, your HVAC maintenance is only one part of the efficiency equation. An energy-efficient unit cannot reduce your electric bill alone. Work to keep up regular home maintenance like replacing window seals, loose siding, or poor insulation.