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7 ways to have more affordable heating and air conditioning

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Whether you're keeping your home cool in the hot summer or warm in the cold winter, you don’t want to lose your sense of comfort because of a high energy bill. Affordable heating and cooling are essential in a modern home. Luckily, there are ways to make any home more energy-efficient while keeping you at the right temperature. 

Heating and air are two of the most expensive home utilities. However, making them more efficient is easy and doesn’t involve replacing your entire HVAC system. Using a smart thermostat or closing the curtains can change the temperature of your home by a couple of degrees, which can save a lot on your bill. What’s more, regular HVAC maintenance can have a huge impact on its efficiency and prevent the need for emergency services to get it running again.

 

How to make your home HVAC system more efficient and affordable

According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling make up more than half of your home’s utility bills. So, any budget-conscious homeowner would want to make their home more efficient to help save money. Here are seven ways to make your heating and cooling more affordable.

Properly adjust your thermostat

While your thermostat regulates the temperature of your home, you regulate your thermostat. To help save money, try raising your temperature a few degrees in the summer and lowering it a few in the winter. Adjusting the temperature a degree at a time will help you acclimate to the environment in your home so you won’t notice the difference at all. Your utility bill will likely show an improvement. 

You can also save money by adjusting the thermostat to different degrees depending on the needs of your home. For example, using a smart thermostat, you can raise the temperature at night in the summer, keeping the AC from running while you sleep. You can also keep your home warmer or cooler during the day if the house is empty. 

Using fans to circulate air around your home can also help regulate temperature without wasting extra energy. Because hot air rises, ceiling fans are great to help pull hot air up in the summer and push it down in the winter. Combine this strategy with an adjusted thermostat, and your utility bills will improve.

Perform regular maintenance checks

Scheduling a pre-season checkup for your HVAC system is a great way to ensure your home runs efficiently. While this service will cost money, it can also save you money.

As a homeowner, you can do many DIY tuneups to ensure your heating system is ready for the season. However, it is a complex system, so hiring professional HVAC services is always a great idea to make sure everything is in working order. A pre-season checkup involves looking for refrigerant leaks, measuring airflow, and inspecting for wear and tear. A professional will clean your ducts, calibrate your thermostat, and provide general maintenance on your system. 

Clean your outdoor condenser unit

Before summer hits, make sure to clean around your outdoor condenser unit. Removing debris from the area is easy, but deep cleaning the blower is more complicated. If your condenser unit needs a deep cleaning, hire a professional. 

During your pre-season checkup, an air-conditioning service will help make sure your air-conditioning system is in working order and clean. So, if you need air-conditioner, boiler or furnace repairs, you can tackle them before the season begins. 

Change HVAC system air filters

Maintaining your HVAC air filters is an important home-maintenance task. Not only will it help keep the air in your home free from dust and mildew, but it also keeps your HVAC system working in top condition. According to energy.gov, you should change your air filters once a month or as recommended based on the filter brand. 

Here is how to change your air filters.

  • Find the air filter locations in your home. Some homes have more than one. These are commonly located in the return air register, the air handler cabinet, or the unit itself. 
  • Check the size and type of air filters you need for each location. 
  • Choose the air filter you want to use in your home. If you have air-quality issues or are prone to allergens in the air, consider a filter with a higher MERV rating. The higher the rating, the smaller the particles it can capture. (Be careful not to use a MERV rating higher than recommended for your system because this can cause further damage.)
  • Remove and dispose of the old filter.
  • Slip the new filter into the space, and close the space securely.

Clean ductwork and vents

No matter how often or at what temperature you run your HVAC system, if you block vents or ducts, your home won’t heat or cool. This is why it is important to unblock any vents and ensure your ducts are clean. 

Cleaning air ducts is part of your regular HVAC maintenance. Pests and animals can make homes in your ductwork during winter. So, add cleaning ductwork to your pre-season checkup before summer hits. 

Before you turn on your heating or air conditioning, go through your home and check your vents. Make sure that none are blocked by items or furniture. Make sure they are all open fully. If you’re able, clean dust and debris using a vacuum. You can also look inside the vents to make sure nothing has fallen in and blocked the airflow. Keep from blocking vents with furniture, toys, bedding or other objects for the season.

Insulate exposed ductwork and fix leaks

Another way to ensure your home is efficient during summer and winter is to check your ductwork for leaks or exposure. Insulate all ductwork in your home, including any that runs through your attic, basement or crawl space. Without insulation, your ducts could be releasing precious heat or cool air. 

If you suspect that your ductwork is leaking or exposed, you can inspect it yourself. If you find a  visible leak that is easily accessible and you are a handy homeowner, then you can DIY a fix. Simply get duct-sealing tape rated UL 181 and place it over the hole. However, a professional should inspect the ductwork during your pre-season checkup. You should also hire a professional to insulate the ductwork to the proper thickness. 

Close blinds and curtains during midday

A quick and easy way to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter is as easy as closing the blinds. On days you know it will be exceptionally hot or cold, walk through your home and close the blinds and curtains on all the windows. Doing this will keep your HVAC from working harder to regulate the temperature inside your home. 

Closing the curtains keeps the sunlight from streaming in and warming the air. In the winter, closing the curtains and blinds helps to insulate your home and keep the heat from escaping through the glass. This is a great way to keep your home efficient, especially if no one is home during the day.

 

When should you replace your home HVAC system?

The choice to completely replace your home HVAC system is a big decision. You should consider not only the costs of repairs versus a replacement, but also the unit's overall efficiency. What’s more, do you know if your cooling system can handle another summer, or should you replace it before it’s too late?

Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to replace your HVAC system

  • Age. Older HVAC systems are less efficient. Even if your system is running and maintained, technology has improved over the years. Moreover, your older unit could still use R-22 refrigerant, which is being phased out. Compared to repair costs, a newer unit could be a more affordable price.
  • Repair services. According to Trane and Amana, if you take the repair costs multiplied by the age of the unit and it equals more than $5,000, you should replace your system. The savings on future repairs and energy efficiency are worth it.
  • Energy efficiency. The more energy-efficient your HVAC system, the more money you will save on your utility bills. The SEER rating measures the efficiency of your unit. High-efficiency units have a SEER rating of 20 or more. If your unit has a SEER rating of 15 or under, consider replacing the unit.
  • Needs. If your unit is struggling to keep you and your home at the right temperature, it might be time to replace it. A new furnace, heat pumps, central air or A/C unit will meet your heating and cooling needs. 

 

Costly HVAC repairs are covered under a Cinch warranty

Don’t let costly heating and A/C repairs sneak up on you. Check out the Cinch Home Services Built-in Systems plan, a warranty that covers your HVAC system and ductwork. What’s more, you get an air-conditioner filter credit when you sign up. 

Cinch is accredited by the BBB and has an excellent rating — along with 40-plus years of experience. Join the nearly 1 million customers served and get a quote today

 

Save money on your energy bills and improve your home's energy efficiency with these seven tips for improving your heating and air conditioning.