An efficient HVAC system is crucial to ensuring the comfort of your home while maintaining energy efficiency. In fact, a report by the Department of Energy has found that HVAC energy efficiency can reduce your overall energy usage by as much as 35%. But maintaining proper energy efficiency can be difficult, as compromising issues can crop up from several different places.
Here are some steps to determine the efficiency of your current HVAC system, identify detrimental factors, and improve overall performance.
Your first step in assessing HVAC energy efficiency is to check the temperatures in every room of your house. You’re looking for even temperature readings across the entire home; if there are any areas where the temperature is significantly warmer or cooler, that would indicate that air is not flowing properly throughout the entire system.
Next, you should check the age of your HVAC unit. HVAC units should be replaced roughly every ten years, and if the unit was already installed when you purchased the home then there’s a chance that it could be very outdated.
Finally, you should check the vents themselves to determine the temperature of air flowing in and out of your system. You can do this accurately by holding a basic thermometer up to each vent for about five minutes. The air exiting your vents should optimally be 14 to 20 degrees cooler than the air going in. If you see a consistent variance from this temperature, it would indicate that your HVAC system is not operating efficiently.
In improving your system’s performance, you want to start simple and monitor your HVAC system as you increase your efforts. The first step is to thoroughly clean your outside unit. Sometimes something as simple as poor sanitation can have a considerable impact on the energy efficiency of your home.
You should make sure that you’re changing out your air filters every three months. If you’re on a regular changing schedule and still seeing energy issues, it might indicate that conditions in your home like pets or excessive dust are causing the filters to wear out early. If this is the case, you should try increasing the changeout rate.
If you’re still seeing issues, your next step is to check your air ducts or schedule a professional inspection. Cracks, holes, and damage in your ducts can greatly compromise the functionality of your HVAC, along with warping from high temperatures. You can repair small holes and cracks with duct tape, but larger issues will require professional assistance. You’ll also want to have your ducts thoroughly cleaned, as dust and debris buildup can hamper performance in addition to causing health and sanitation issues.
If you’re still seeing performance and energy issues after this, it could indicate that your HVAC system is outdated or was not installed properly.
At this point, you should reach out to a seasoned professional to evaluate the system, identify the root issue, and determine the most effective solution to improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC system.
Take a good look at how you have organized the furniture in each room. Are the registers blocked, making it harder for warm or cold air to circulate properly? If so, it’s time for a little reorganization! This step may seem small and unnecessary, but a blocked register can significantly hinder your HVAC system’s ability to keep a room comfortable and cost you more money as your system cycles on more frequently to compensate.
Washing and drying clothes in larger loads is another easy-to-tackle hack that will lower your energy bill. While it may be inconvenient to wait until you have a full load of wash, using your dryer more efficiently is one of the many tips that the US Department of Energy notes in their fact sheet, “Top 10 Tips for Renters.” They explain: “The lint trap is an important energy saver. Dryers work by moving heated air through wet clothes, evaporating and then venting water vapor outside. If the dryer cannot provide enough heat, or move air sufficiently through the clothes, they will take longer to dry, and may not dry at all. One of the easiest things you can do to increase drying efficiency is to clean the lint trap before each and every load.”
Because apartments are generally smaller spaces, our last HVAC hack is simply adjusting the thermostat when you are leaving for the day. In the summer, we suggest setting your thermostat somewhere between 78 and 80 degrees before you depart. In the winter, try going as low as 62 degrees. You can install a programmable thermostat to do this for you at the times you leave for work.
This simple measure will take the pressure off of your HVAC system, giving it a rest from constant cycling. Because apartments are small, it won’t take long at all for your system to cool (or warm) your indoor environment when you arrive home again.
At Vaughan, we have the expertise to provide the ideal targeted performance solutions and major overhauls for your HVAC system. For more information, contact us at (856) 627-0303 or use our contact page today!
NJ LIC. NO.13VH01727600
Robert W. Vaughan,
Master HVACR Contractor Lic. # 5842
Thomas J. Weaver,
Master Plumber Lic # 9521