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2 Key Factors that Affect HVAC Efficiency – Be Sure Maintenance Includes Them

Published on: August 23, 2012

There are many different factors that can have an adverse affect on your HVAC’s energy efficiency. The age of the unit, the house, the climate and more can cause the system to work harder than normal. This will result in a higher energy bill. Replacing the system with one that has a higher SEER rating will result in initial savings. Paying attention to these two main factors will result in higher energy efficiency for both existing and new HVAC units.

The first factor is air conditioner maintenance. No mechanical device can operate for any extended length of time without it. Parts wear out, hoses crack and the system can begin to operate differently. The energy bill will climb higher, the owner may have to lower the thermostat to “get the room to cool down,” and the system may make strange noises when it cycles on and off. Eventually, it will break down. Repairs on an HVAC system are expensive. Avoiding them is not.

Regular maintenance will increase the energy efficiency immediately. Begin inside with the unit that houses the blower, evaporator coils and the drain. Leave the furnace electronics and gas connections to a licensed professional. Use a flashlight to notice the condition of the hoses and wiring. Nothing should appear discolored, cracked or broken. If anything is, service is needed. Every month, pour a cup of bleach in the drain pan. The drain pump should take care of it quickly. The bleach will kill and prevent algae growth in the drain line. Ensure the insulation around the ducting connection to the blower unit is intact and well-sealed. This prevents condensation that could cause problems.

Change or clean the unit’s filter every month. The filter stops dust and other debris from coating the evaporator coils. The coils are filled with super-cooled refrigerant. The heat from the air moves into the refrigerant, cooling it. The temperature difference causes condensation that drains into the drain pan. If the coils are dirty, the air cannot be effectively cooled or dehumidified. If the vent grilles have filters, include them in monthly maintenance.

At the outside HVAC condenser unit, inspect the hoses as you did for the inside. Keep the unit clear of debris. Straighten any bent fins with a special comb. Do not attempt repairs on this unit yourself. A licensed technician should tune the system at the beginning of the spring and fall seasons. Be sure the ducting system is cleaned and inspected on an annual basis.

Insulation is the other key factor affecting the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. With proper insulation in the attic and walls, the unit does not have to work as hard to cool or heat the house. Be sure to provide proper ventilation to the attic with the insulation. The cooled or heated air will not be retained in the home longer, meaning the system will cycle on less and use less energy. Insulated windows and doors will also increase the energy savings of the home. It will also raise the resale value of the home.