Buy a better filter if you have not already. The new high-efficiency pleated filters have an electrostatic charge that works like a magnet to grab the tiniest particles — even those that carry bacteria.
Replace the filter at least every 90 days. But check it monthly. If it looks dark and clogged, go ahead and change it. If you have pets, you’ll probably need to change every month.
Make sure there’s at least two feet of clearance around outdoor air conditioning units and heat pumps.
Remove Debris such as leaves, pollen, and twigs weekly during spring, summer, and fall from top and sides of outdoor air-conditioning units and heat pumps. Don’t allow the lawn mower to discharge grass clippings onto the unit.
Monthly, inspect insulation on refrigerant lines leading into house. Replace if missing or damaged.
Make sure your unit is level. Annually, ensure that outdoor air-conditioning units and heat pumps are on firm and level ground or pads.
Fight Off Clogs. Annually, pour a cup of bleach mixed with water down the air-conditioner condensate drain to prevent buildup of mold and algae, which can cause a clog.
Shut off the water supply to the furnace humidifier in summer. In fall (or when you anticipate turning on the heat), replace the humidifier wick filter, set the humidistat to between 35% and 40% relative humidity, and turn on the water supply.
Never close more than 20% of a home’s registers to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the HVAC system.
Replace the battery in your home’s carbon monoxide detector annually.
Save Money. Preventive maintenance helps ensure that your HVAC system runs at close to peak efficiency. This can mean savings of up to 30% on your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Improve Your Air Quality. The EPA reports that indoor levels of airborne pollutants may be 2-5 times higher (in extreme cases more than 100 times higher) than outdoor levels. This is particularly significant if you or any family members suffer from respiratory issues such as asthma. Though we are not aware of it day to day, we share our homes with a variety of substances that we would rather not breathe. These common indoor allergens range from ordinary household dust that can contain dozens of respiratory issues to pet dander, dust mites, cigarette smoke, pollen and mold.
Improve Your comfort. You depend on your HVAC system to keep you comfortable year round. Regular maintenance helps your system produce and distribute the warm or cool air more evenly and steadily. It also reduces the odds that you’ll come home from work one winter’s day to find frigid air blasting through your vents.
But it can also be easy to take maintenance for granted, or to get used to the idea that a particular room is just too hot in the summer or chilly in the winter. Preventive steps like cleaning your ductwork can help ensure that your home heats and cools as evenly and efficiently as possible. Regular maintenance will also minimize the chances that HVAC noises or smells will disrupt your quality of life.
It is easy to forget about maintenance when temperatures are mild and other needs are pressing. However, failure to have your system’s tuneup completed prior to weather changes can lead to unexpected problems. A system that has a failing part, for example, might malfunction during initial use. However, preventive maintenance allows such an issue to be identified and corrected early.
Maintenance plans provide our customers with access to priority service and related benefits. Customers who sign up for our plans can receive discounts on a variety of products and services. A maintenance plan allows you to take care of your equipment and identify problems early. You will be able to manage your home comfort levels effectively throughout the year. Finally, investing in a preventive maintenance plan gives you the comfort of knowing that if something goes wrong, you’ve already taken steps to make the situation as painless as possible.
Your car needs regular maintenance and service to make sure it’s running well, why wouldn’t your HVAC system not need that either? By understanding the importance of a preventative maintenance you can take advantage of timely service and get access to important support solutions throughout the year. HVAC maintenance allows you to be prepared for whatever season you are in.
Having an HVAC preventative maintenance plan includes a plethora of benefits such as:
Improved efficiency – annual efficiency loss for normal system use can be five percent or more and a tuneup can counteract this loss.
Identification of faulty parts – a mechanical system experiences wear over time, and regular HVAC maintenance allows for worn out or broken parts to be repaired or replaced as needed.
HVAC safety – heating equipment that operates through the combustion of fuel can pose a safety risk through carbon monoxide (CO) leaks, making annual inspections a crucial safety measure for your household.
Longevity of your equipment – you can expect approximately 14 years of service from a heat pump or air conditioner and approximately 20 years of service from a furnace. Regular maintenance reduces the risk of early equipment failures and costly upgrade needs.
Use the sun for free heat. That bright orb in the sky should be the focus of temperature control in your residence throughout the year. Open the curtains on your south-facing windows during winter days to bring free heat into your home. Close your window coverings when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.
Bundle up with warm accessories. This is one of the easiest ways to save on your heating bill. Instead of turning the heat up, put on a cozy winter sweater and warm socks. Keep throw blankets on your couch, and add an area rug to insulate the floor.
Adjust the thermostat at night. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save about 10 percent per year on your heating bills by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours. Consider investing in flannel sheets and a warm comforter for your bed and keeping your apartment cooler when you sleep.
Keep your furnace clean and unblocked. Keeping your furnace and vents properly maintained will reduce energy consumption and help you save. Check your furnace filter monthly, and replace it when it gets dirty.
Use a space heater only in the current room you are hanging out in. This will take the nip out of the air to make you feel more comfortable without heating all of the other rooms in the house and wasting energy.
Use silicone to fill any cracks in doors, windows, etc, including the basement floor and walls. You would be surprised at how much heat is lost through cracks that seem insignificant. A tube of caulk or silicone will only run you a few dollars and it’s an easy weekend project.
Preparing for Winter
In the winter, either cover your room air conditioner or remove and store it. Covering the outdoor unit of a central air conditioner will protect the unit from winter weather and debris. Wrap vinyl ropes or bungee cords around the air conditioning cover to keep it secure. Make sure the cover is wrapped tightly so it doesn't blow away in strong winds.
Find the air conditioning circuit near your unit. Usually, it has a plastic or metal lid that covers the electrical circuit. Open the lid and flip the switch to turn the unit off. This prevents the unit from turning on during an unusually warm winter day, keeping water out of the unit that could potentially freeze.
There should be a few pipes running between the air conditioner and your home. These pipes contain water, so it is a good idea to ensure that they are not directly exposed to freezing temperatures. Wrap the foam insulating strips around the pipes and secure them with duct tape. A more permanent option is to cut foam blocks to fit around the shape of your pipes and duct tape them into place. While this takes a little bit more time, you will likely be able to reuse the same blocks year after year. Solid foam is also an even better insulator of heat.
Finally, check your air conditioner once a week to make sure the cover is secure. Brush water, snow and ice off the unit. Remove twigs, pinecones and leaves from the cover.
Air Conditioner Filters
The most important maintenance task that will ensure the efficiency of your air conditioner is to routinely replace or clean its filters. Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system's efficiency significantly. With normal airflow obstructed, air that bypasses the filter may carry dirt directly into the evaporator coil and impair the coil's heat-absorbing capacity. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5% to 15%.
Air Conditioner Coils
The air conditioner's evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over their months and years of service. A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly. In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary.
Check your thermostat to make sure it’s working properly and keeps your home at the right temperature. If you have an older, mechanical type thermostat, you may want to consider upgrading to a programmable model.
Window Seals for Room Air Conditioners
At the start of each cooling season, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and the window frame to ensure it makes contact with the unit's metal case. Moisture can damage this seal, allowing cool air to escape from your house.
Hiring a Professional
When your air conditioner needs more than regular maintenance, hire a professional service technician. A well-trained technician will find and fix problems in your air conditioning system.
Your home’s outside air conditioning unit is probably the last thing you think about once the temperatures go down. However, there are a few simple things you can do now to make sure your AC is in working order once the temperatures are back on the way up. (Before you do anything, turn your air conditioner off.)
Give it a nice cleaning.
When you use things a lot, they get dirty, plain and simple. Changing the air filter is a good first step toward air conditioner cleanliness, but it’s not the only one. Wiping down inner coils, outer casings, and frequently used controls before the air outside gets frosty can help homeowners to avoid any gunk-causing issues when they start it back up in the warmer months. As an added bonus, it just looks nice and there’s nothing bad about taking pride in your air conditioning unit.
Once it’s clean and dry, check to see if anything needs fixing or replacing on the unit like the air grille fan guard or fan blade. If it’s really damaged, we recommend replacing now. If it’s just a dent, you can wait until spring.
Look into the possibility of getting a new unit
The best time to buy a swimsuit is during winter, because it’s the one time of year that no one is buying them out of necessity. That same logic goes toward purchasing new air conditioning units. If you’re thinking about switching yours out for a newer, shinier model, the best time to talk to someone about it is when other people aren’t as likely to be buying. You’ll have better chances at getting more proverbial bang for your buck and installation professionals are going to be more likely to have plenty of openings to fit your busy schedule.
With back to school time and the expenses that go with it around the corner, paired with the fact that it is the hottest time of the year, it makes sense to consider back to school tips on energy efficiency and saving. We have found the best tips for energy saving that you can put to work right away.
If your thermostat is still operating on summer schedules, it may be running the system more hours per day than necessary. Usually, back-to-school means the house is less occupied during daylight hours and so doesn’t require the extended summer schedule for air conditioning. Also, as cooler outdoor weather begins to arrive, you’ll be able to bump up temperature settings a few degrees without affecting indoor comfort.
Savvy homeowners understand the importance of a clean air filter in the air conditioning unit. Dirty air filters can reduce the efficiency of the unit as a whole, costing you both money on your monthly bill and comfort in the home's temperature. A clogged air filter can also create unnecessary wear and tear on the air conditioner. This will result in a shorter lifespan for the unit, and force an early and expensive replacement.
- Set your programmable thermostat to a higher temperature while you are at school.
- Use appliances efficiently by running full loads only in your washer, dishwasher and dryer.
- Your HVAC systems air filter should be changed every 3 months. A new air filter will ensure your system is not working harder than it should to keep your home comfortable.
Don’t turn it off
To understand why you shouldn’t turn off your air conditioner while away, you should first understand what an air conditioner does.
Yes, it cools your home. But it also removes humidity. And in a climate like Kansas City that’s an important function.
For optimum comfort and for the health of your home, the humidity in your house should be no higher than 50%. More than that and you run into common humidity problems, such as:
- Musty smells and odors
- Peeling paint
- Warped wood furniture (floors, cabinets, etc.)
A long weekend is a great time to save money on your utility bills, but not at the expense of comfort when you return. If you’re only going to be gone for a short time, just a day or two, it’s better to keep the air conditioner on, but set at a higher temperature. Your ideal compromise between energy efficiency and comfort when you come home is probably somewhere between the recommended 85 degrees and your usual thermostat setting. If you normally like to turn the thermostat down to the low 70s, bump it to 80 when you leave.
Want to save even more money? Talk to an HVAC company about upgrading your thermostat. Newer thermostat systems give you the power to change your home’s temperature remotely with smartphone apps, allowing you to adjust based on changing temps outside. At the least, you can enter a new setting as you head back from vacation, so you don’t walk into an uncomfortably muggy or chilly home. Instead, your A/C or heater will be busily plugging away to get to the new temperature while you travel back.