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How To Prepare Your HVAC System For Winter

 

The changing of seasons provides excellent opportunities to save money on your utility bills. Being able to open windows and keep your AC or furnace off can help reduce costs. But soon the cold winter air will come and it’ll be time to crank up the heat.

Following simple HVAC tips like replacing your air filter, cleaning up around your outdoor unit and setting up your programmable thermostat can drastically reduce your monthly utility bill costs.

Replace or Wash Your Air Filter

Replacing or cleaning your air filter can make a huge difference not only in money saved, but also in reducing the amount of dust in your home. A dirty filter restricts the air flow that your furnace pulls in to your home. This makes your system run less efficiently.

If you have a replaceable air filter, consider changing it out before the winter season. Most of these filters are rated for 3 months of use. But if your filter is filled with dust before the 3 months time, you should replace it. It’s also a good idea to replace the filter before a heavy use season like summer or winter.

These filters are usually fairly inexpensive and can be found at any hardware store or online. It’s important to note the size of the filter that your system requires and replace it with the same size. The filter size should be clearly labeled on your old filter.

 

If you have an electrostatic or washable air filter, then you should again inspect for dust or debris and clean if needed. These filters generally need to be cleaned once per month.

To clean the filter, follow these simple steps:

  • Remove filter from unit in home
  • Using a garden hose or something with a sprayer and spray the back of the filter forcing the dust and debris out and not further into the filter
  • Spray the front of the filter from the top down so everything runs off and not back into the filter
  • Let dry and put back in to the unit

If you haven’t cleaned the filter in a long time, use a mild solution with soap and get it totally clean.

A dirty filter makes your HVAC unit work harder when heating a cooling and reduces your indoor air quality so it’s important to make sure you follow these steps.

Do a Visual Inspection Around Your Outdoor Unit

Before winter hits is a perfect time to clean up your yard and ensure nothing has built up around your outdoor condenser unit.

Make sure you check all the way around your unit outside to see if debris, like leaves, have gotten stuck in the cage. Your HVAC system will run more efficiently if the outdoor unit is kept clean. If there is anything caught in the cage around it, use a garden hose to spray it clean. If you’ve left any outdoor tools or toys pile up, now is a good time to clean up.

An often asked question is whether or not you should cover the AC unit outside over the winter. We do not recommend doing this. Covering the AC unit can have a couple of unintended consequences: 

  • You can build up humidity under the covering which can lead to quicker rusting of the moving parts.
  • You can make a nice home for small animals for the winter that can damage the unit.

Both of these are not ideal for your air conditioning system so to prevent that, clean around your unit and leave it uncovered for the winter. Your unit is designed to handle the elements and should be left uncovered.

Get a Programmable Thermostat and Make Sure it is set up Correctly

A simple way to save money, not just during the winter, but year round is to make sure you have a programmable thermostat and set it up properly.

If you have a “smart” thermostat like a Nest or Ecobee then they will learn your schedule and start programming themselves for you. This is very handy when your schedule changes from day to day. These thermostats are also great to have if you want to have control of your thermostat when you aren’t standing right next to it.

Smart thermostats allow you to control your heating system either with your phone or by voice control, depending on the model.

If you have a non “smart” programmable thermostat then you’ll need to set up the day’s schedules in advance. 7 day programmable thermostats are pretty inexpensive and easy to work. 

While you have less control than a “smart” thermostat, you still are able to set up heating and cooling schedules that help reduce your energy bills by lowering or raising the temperatures at specifically set times.

Check the Air Vents around your house

After having your HVAC system off like most people do during the early fall months, it’s important to check all of the air vents around your house before kicking on your system for the winter. 

It’s easy to not think about, but covering up your air vents in your home can drastically reduce the energy efficiency of your system. Blocking intake vents puts strain on your system and covering where the air blows out means your room isn’t getting the heating it should.

Go around your house and check to make sure none of the vents are covered up or blocked in any way.

Schedule Your Bi-Annual Professional Maintenance

Before a heavy usage season like winter, is a perfect time to schedule a full system inspection by a trained professional. Having an HVAC technician come and check that everything is working well, or tuning up what isn’t, keeps your system highly efficient.

Keep More Money in Your Pocket With HVAC Maintenance

Following these simple HVAC tips for winter can help keep your furnace or heat pump working smoothly through the cold season. This not only keeps you feeling comfortable in your home, but also in your wallet.

If you have any questions on how to prepare your system for winter, give Ideal Comfort a call and we’d be more than happy to help out. If you need a professional tune-up, our expert technicians are ready and waiting to do what they’re highly trained to do. If you want to reduce the cost of the tune-up, consider signing up for our annual maintenance plan, the Comfort Club.

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