14 DIY Tips to Get Your HVAC System Ready for Summer
How we love those days and nights in spring and fall, simply because they put the least amount of strain on our bank accounts when it comes to paying utility bills by putting the smallest workload on our HVAC equipment. While winter is still an unpleasant thought in the distance, summer is right around the corner. That means it's time to start looking for ways to cut back on your utility expenses while still staying cool and comfortable. One of the best ways you can do so is by making sure your HVAC system is as ready for summer as you are.
Getting your HVAC equipment ready for summer doesn't require a great deal of technical knowledge or herculean effort. To the contrary, there are many things you can do by yourself, without the need of a professional service technician, to help keep your heating and cooling system in optimal condition and operating at peak performance.
- Put your HVAC system through its paces before you actually need it for the summer. Running a test on the air conditioning part of the system will let you know if there are any issues that need to be addressed before summer arrives.
- Keep the area around your condenser free of any obstacles, including plants, shrubs, and other vegetation. Your condenser needs space to draw in air, and the typical recommendation is that you keep a border of two feet of clear space around all sides of the unit.
- Install a programmable thermostat to give you more control over the operation of your HVAC unit. You can program the thermostat to operate at times when a comfortable interior temperature is most needed. It also provides for more precise control of when the unit switches on or off by giving you a more accurate temperature reading.
- Make sure your doors and windows are sealed to prevent air loss. Surprisingly enough, you can reduce your monthly energy consumption from 5% to almost 30% by making sure there are no gaps, cracks, or crevices where cool air can leak to the outside.
- Provide some type of shelter for the unit that protects it from direct sunlight and rain, including any runoff from your roof.
- Set your thermostat where you want it and leave it alone. When you continue to make adjustments to the temperature setting, it requires your HVAC unit to operate more often. Setting it to a colder temperature does not make the unit cool down your home quicker, but it does make it work harder. This will only lead to an increase in your energy use and costs, as well as a higher chance of repairs or replacement of the unit before they should actually be necessary.
- Change or clean your filter(s) on a regular basis. Changing the filter is one of the simplest do-it-yourself tasks you can do to get your HVAC system ready for summer. A clean filter allows for optimal air flow, which means your system will not have to overwork itself to push air throughout your home.
- Use ceiling fans or portable fans to keep the air moving throughout your home. Warm air rises, either to the ceiling or upper floors, while cooler air stays near the lower parts of a house or room. By using fans to circulate air, you'll be able to maintain a more even temperature throughout your house, without requiring that your HVAC system work to keep the air cooler.
- Make sure there is no furniture, rugs, drapes, or other obstacles covering any floor vents, and check the ceiling vents to be sure they are open (where needed) and clear of dust and debris.
- Close the vents to rooms that aren't used frequently or don't need to be cooled as often. This will push more air into the rooms that you do want to keep cool, so your HVAC system won't need to keep working to maintain a comfortable temperature in your entire house.
- If your HVAC unit ices over, which isn't unusual, switch the thermostat's fan setting to "ON" to force it to continue operating while the unit defrosts. Make sure the condenser unit has proper drainage and have a technician perform a quick preventive maintenance inspection. There may be other issues with your equipment that aren't easily detectable without an evaluation.
- Close your blinds or curtains during the day, especially on the sides of your house that receive direct sunlight. This will prevent the sun from creating natural warmth within your home, and protect your furnishings and décor from UV damage.
- Buy a humidifier to increase the moisture level in your home. Humidity in a home is important for several reasons, if properly controlled, least of which is the fact that it contributes to a cooler feeling when your lightly moistened skin encounters cooled air or fan-circulated air.
- Avoid operating appliances or electronics that generate heat during the hottest part of the day. Use the oven, clothes dryer, large televisions, dishwasher, and other items early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This will keep them from adding unnecessary heat and requiring that your HVAC unit work harder to keep the temperature cool.
Last but not least, make sure you do have an HVAC technician perform an inspection of your equipment to make sure it doesn't need any repairs or replacement of parts. The technician can inspect both the condenser unit and your duct work, clean the fan blades, check and clean the coils, make sure the drain is free of clogs or debris, and let you know if any other professional maintenance may be needed. If your equipment does need to be replaced due to age, wear, or simply because it isn't efficient enough for your home, make sure you get an ENERGY STAR unit that is the proper size for your home's living space.
Keeping your HVAC system in good working order is one of the best ways you can reduce your energy use and save on your utility bills. By taking proper care of your equipment, it will last much longer and continue to provide you with a cool and comfortable home during the long, hot days of summer.