An easy way to be green in the home, and save yourself a lot of hassle, is by caring for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. And today, I’ll go over why it’s practical to spend a few bucks now to maintain your HVAC units.
Especially if you check the appliances prior to seasonal changes. Such as checking the heater a month or two before the temperature drops or the cooling unit before spring.
What is the HVAC System?
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air condition. This includes the furnace as well as the cooling unit of the home. Whether it’s central air, a swamp cooler, or a window cooling unit, it’s technically all the same thing.
These devices work to keep the home a specific temperature you set at the thermostat. And if they’re not regularly maintained, they have to work harder to achieve that goal.
These two appliances consume more power than most others in your house. Between temperature regulation and the blower, there’s a reason why most are on their own separate circuit.
At one point, I couldn’t run the vacuum if it was plugged into the same circuit as the window-based air conditioner from Walmart without tripping the breaker. That’s how much power even an $80 unit can consume.
6 Ways to Care for Your Home’s HVAC System
This list is mostly for homeowners or those who rent a house. People living in apartments probably don’t have to worry too much about the HVAC systems or have access to the heating and air conditioning units.
1. Replace or Clean the Filters
Filters essentially pull all kinds of airborne debris from the air before cycling through the system. If these filters are clogged, it means the HVAC units must work that much harder to move enough air to adjust the thermostat.
This means your heater can run almost non-stop as it tries to raise the temperature to whatever is set. Not to mention the wear and tear on the blower, reducing its lifespan and resulting in repairs much sooner.
2. Clean Your Duct Work
Ducts can quickly fill with all kinds of debris. From whatever the filter doesn’t catch to simple dust over time, keeping the ducts clean is as important as clean arteries for a heart.
If you have kids or pets, you might find all kinds of random things in your HVAC vents. Taking a few minutes now to clean them out can help improve air quality and keep your system efficient.
3. Clean Area Near the HVAC System
It’s important to keep the areas near the furnace or the cooling unit clean. Not only is it more sanitary, but it also gives the system a chance to do what it needs without posing a risk.
For example, when the furnace kicks on, is there anything nearby that can catch fire? Some furnace units ignite natural gas, which can have a bit of a blast radius, depending on the system.
I once saw an older furnace melt a nearby polyester-mesh clothes basket from its ignition flame.
4. Check Electrical Connections
Keeping an eye on your electrical connections is always a good idea whether it’s for the HVAC system or not. Loose power sockets, in-efficient wiring, or older connections can cause all kinds of issues down the road.
This is often best left for professionals. However, you can always perform a basic inspection by making sure plugs are tight and you don’t have loose dangling wires.
If you’re not comfortable with using a power meter and examining the wiring, always seek professional help.
5. Clean Condensation Drain and Hose
The condensation drain is part of the air conditioning unit. It takes water from the AC to dispose of without creating leaks, puddles, or damaging the unit. Keeping an eye on this aspect is vital.
For one thing, your condensation drain and hose can clog up with various waterborne debris, such as mold and algae.
Some people feed a bleach-water solution through the condensate system to keep it clean. However, the caustic nature of bleach can cause havoc on the tubing and other elements of the system.
Instead, use white vinegar. It’s a non-toxic, non-corrosive alternative that does a decent job of eliminating various debris from water tubes. It’s safer to use, especially if you have kids and pets in the house.
6. Schedule Professional HVAC Maintenance
It’s never a bad idea to schedule a professional to inspect the HVAC system. For one thing, they do far more than just make sure the unit is clean.
For instance, it’s common for HVAC experts to:
- Check the calibration of the thermostat.
- Verify the correct voltage and amps for motors.
- Check system controls to ensure they work properly.
- Clean condenser coils on air condition systems.
- Verify the air conditioning system is charged and ready.
- Assess the HVAC system and quote a price for any repairs or adjustments needed.
You might think that having an inspection is a costly measure. But think of how much money it’ll save instead of having to replace a blower motor or other major fix should the system fail.
Especially during the winter months.
And what about the cost savings every month from a heater or air conditioner that is working like it should? In reality, the HVAC could “burn” through thousands of dollars per year due to inefficiency.
An inspection today could mean the difference between Christmas with the family and spending your savings to replace the furnace.
How Often Should You Change Air Filters?
There is a lot of information online regarding how often you should change the air filters in your house. Some experts say 30 to 60 days for up to a 3-inch filter, while others claim 90 days as the sweet spot.
However, there are a lot of things that can alter how often you change the air filters.
For example, if you have a lot of pets or live in an exceptionally dusty location, such as a rural area, you might want to check it once per month. This is because pet dander and dust can quickly clog the filter.
And if you wait too long, the airflow will diminish making it more difficult for the HVAC system to get the home to a desired temperature.
Create the Ideal Environment in Your Home
Whether you want to save money on your energy bills or doing what you can to live more green, caring for your HVAC system is simply practical.
The cooling and heating system of your home consumes an incredible amount of power. Keeping them maintained reduces how often they need to operate to keep the home cool or warm.
Take a few minutes today to perform some quick maintenance. It’ll save you a lot of money and hassle later on.
Michael has been interested in the practicality of living green for quite some time. He works closely with GreenGeeks Web Hosting as the Content Marketing Team Lead and an author of various articles.