It is important for all homeowners to consider the regular care and maintenance of a home’s air conditioning, or HVAC system. The proper maintenance will not only save energy, but will also save you money. A well maintained system will keep a home comfortable and will ensure the system is running as it was intended to.
The regular steps in maintaining an HVAC system are fairly simple:
- Check the filter every month. The filter is usually located in a grille on the wall or ceiling, usually in a hallway.
- Clean or replace the filter at least every three months.
- Remove debris such as leaves and dust from the outside unit.
- Check the thermostat.
- Have the system scheduled for tune-ups twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall.
By performing these tasks the system will run efficiently and save you money. The unit will not have to work as hard to pump the air throughout the house, thus saving energy and keeping the bill lower. The harder a unit has to work the more energy that is consumed, this is one way that our energy bill gets higher than usual.
Maintenance reduces repair costs
With the proper care you are preventing the possibilities of repairs. Regular cleaning and inspections of wires and fan blades will help things functioning right and reduce the chances of dealing with repairs. Repairs can be costly and stressful, especially in the hot seasons.
Inspect the ductwork periodically for punctures, leaks, and blockages. Make sure there is nothing that can fall and puncture the lines.Check for leaks. Leaks can be costly, plus that much needed air is being released into areas that do not need it. Leaks usually happen at the joints and bends. Blockages make the system work harder and will increase the energy bills. Check for debris in the ductwork. Usually a collection of moisture occurs where a blockage is found.
Having to replace a system prematurely will be costly. If you can avoid replacement as long as possible it will save you money in the long run. You are losing money if your system is being replaced in only a couple years, or in half the time it is expected to last. Maintaining the HVAC system will ensure that it reaches it’s maximum intended life expectancy before you have to replace it.
Perhaps you need to call a professional, but aren’t exactly sure! Check out our article on “when to have AC repair”
During the late spring and summer seasons, many people can experience an increase in allergy symptoms, for those with regular allergy problems this tends to be the worst season for flare ups. This is due to the increase of pollen in the air. It is nearly impossible to escape air-born allergies, but you can limit your exposure to allergies with a few simple tips.
Avoid high pollen count
The pollen count and other allergens are highest during days that are dry, breezy, or just really warm. Limit outdoor activity to early mornings, evenings, and windless days. Stay indoors when possible with windows closed, especially on windy days.
Run the air conditioner and use a HEPA filter
Avoid the urge to “air out” the house. Keep your windows and doors closed when your allergies are bothering you. Use the air conditioner to keep the temperature cool. Invest in a high-efficiency particulate accumulator filter, known as a HEPA filter, that will remove most of the pollen from the air. In addition, portable devices that can be used in individual rooms are especially helpful in reducing animal allergens. McCalls offers regular air conditioning service plans that includes regular inspection of filters and systems. You can read about our air conditioner service plans here.
Use and maintain the air conditioner in your car
While driving with the windows or top down can be appealing for warmer months, it is a sure way to induce allergy symptoms. When out during the day avoid having the windows down while in the car. Run the air conditioner and use the “re-circulate” setting. Make sure you have the car serviced regularly to remove any mold or dust that may form in the system.
Get some relief with nasal spray
To help with the relief of allergies, keep nasal spray with you. Cleanse your nose out periodically. Many sprays are available over the counter at local stores. Allergy medications are also available for those that tend to suffer daily with severe allergies. Decongestants and antihistamines can relieve symptoms but consult a doctor before use.
Dealing with Indoor allergens
Keep indoor allergens at a minimum and keep your home comfortable. Besides running the air conditioning, take a few more steps. Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. If there are pets in the house, keep them well groomed. Avoid irritants such as chemicals that can worsen airborne allergy symptoms during flare-ups. These include insect sprays, tobacco smoke, air pollution, and fresh paint.
Keeping the family cool in the summer and warm in winter is high on the list of any homeowner. Yet the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is the most expensive part of the home outside the actual structure. Getting the money to replace or upgrade an HVAC system can be difficult but there are ways to do it and all it takes is a little bit of research and planning.
The First Step
Obviously what is needed depends on if one is replacing an older unit or adding to an existing system. Luckily for most people, the former is more likely and has the best chance of there being programs to help defray the cost. There are both state and federal programs out there which are there to help homeowners upgrade older HVAC systems for newer, greener and energy efficient models. However there are many that this is done.
The most common method is through tax credits. There is the Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency program which helps lessen the cost of many types of HVAC systems. Many states have similar programs which can be compared via the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. (DSIRE) The advantage to this site is that it not only lists state programs but also incentive programs sponsored by local utilities. Many larger cities also have their own programs.
One can take a small home loan by borrowing against the home’s equity. This could be done via a normal banking lender or could be done through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) home improvement loan program.
There are also many governmental and utility sponsored grant programs (some of which will show up on the DSIRE website) for low income families. At the federal level, there is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which aim to help reduce heating/cooling bills via newer and more energy efficient HVAC models.
Not every HVAC upgrade is planned. There are many difference grant programs which are targeted towards those whose system suddenly fails and needs to be replaced especially in the winter. While most are offered by governments or utilities, many are available from church and charity organizations. These emergency grants are usually to the tune of $1,000 which won’t pay for a full HVAC system but can certainly go towards helping paying that months mortgage!
Not sure who to go to for an installation, or more info on HVAC matters? Check out how to find the right HVAC professionals for you, HERE.