Conditioning the temperature inside a home is an expensive process. In fact, the two most expensive home appliances to operate are the furnace and the air conditioner. One of the reasons for this is that you have to run these appliances more often than other appliances like the dishwasher, and the power draw is greater for an AC unit than for other constantly running appliances such as the refrigerator. On the other hand, there are steps you can take to improve your HVAC efficiency.
The Case for Year-Round Optimization
Some tricks for optimizing an AC unit will not help when it comes to heating your home. For example, you can decrease summer heat gain by installing metal roofing. Because the metal reflects heat away from your home, it can decrease your cooling bills by up to 25%. The problem with metal roofing is that heat gain is only a problem during the summer. If the sun heats up your home during the winter, it helps decrease the load on your furnace and can help your system to run more efficiently. Thus, if you have to contend with harsh winter cold and soaring summer temperatures, you want to make sure that any upgrades you undertake will benefit your home year round.
Any step you take to isolate the environment inside your home from the fluctuating temperatures outside will be a benefit to your HVAC system. One inexpensive way to improve the efficiency of your heating and your cooling equipment is to install window films. Window films will filter out UV rays, which will help to reduce heat gain during the summer. In fact, window film will help to reduce your cooling costs by up to 23%. But as mentioned in the analysis of metal roofing, heat gain is only a problem during the summer. The same window film that keeps heat out during the summer can help to keep heat in during the winter and thus reduce your heating costs by up to 25%. Now that's a year-round solution to HVAC inefficiency.
Isolating your home from the outdoors is important, but you also have to make sure that your system runs as efficiently as possible. Both your AC unit and your furnace have to push air through your ducts, and if your ducts leak, they can decrease your overall system efficiency by up to 40%. As long as you have exposed ducts, you can repair leaky ducts on your own in this way:
- Turn your thermostat to the fan setting.
- Light a stick of incense and run it along the joints and seams in your ducts. Mark anyplace where air escaping from your ducts disturbs the smoke from your incense.
- Once you have inspected the full length of your ducts, turn off the fan.
- Use a putty knife to slather duct mastic over leaks. Make sure the mastic extends for a couple of inches beyond the leaks.
- Give the mastic time to dry.
- Turn your thermostat to "heat" or "cool" depending on the season
Thus, for the price of a few sheets of window film, duct mastic, and a putty knife, you can give your HVAC system a shot of performance-enhancing efficiency. Just remember that if you live in an area that has four seasons, any upgrades you make to your home or your HVAC equipment should improve performance year-round. For more information, visit Reliable Building Services.