What is your home’s best defense against the cold of winter? It’s an efficient and effective home heating system. But to get the highest level of performance from your gas, electric or fossil-fuel powered system, you’ll need to give it some regular TLC by way of seasonal or regular maintenance.
Most HVAC work should be done by a professional, but you can take some steps yourself to ensure the longest life for your system:
Change the filters regularly: This is one of the most important steps in system maintenance. Dirty filters mean your system has to work harder to move the air, causing poor performance and creating more wear and tear on the system. A clean filter also lowers your energy costs, since the system uses less power to do the same amount of work, and improves indoor air quality.
To maintain a unit’s peak efficiency, Energy Star recommends changing the air filters every three months at a minimum. A fresh filter traps contaminants such as dander, pet hair and dust and helps the system run more efficiently, prolonging its life.
During high usage months in the winter or summer, check your air filters at least once a month and change them as needed.
Perform a visual inspection: Check your HVAC system regularly for warning signs that you need a professional to take a look. Catching problems early can save expensive repairs later on. Frozen coils, water leaks, and dirty evaporator or condenser coils could require an HVAC contractor’s help.
Watch the thermostat: Turning your thermostat even one or two degrees higher in the summer or a few degrees lower in the winter can save wear and tear on your system and make a big difference in energy usage.
Beyond changing the air filter on a regular basis, one of the best ways to ensure your home’s HVAC system is operating at peak efficiency is to have a qualified professional HVAC contractor tune up the system on a biannual basis. Energy Star recommends scheduling your system tune-up around the beginning of daylight savings time in the fall and its end in the spring. It’s an easy way to remember to have your system serviced before the peak heating and cooling seasons. A standard tune-up is likely to cost you between $70 and $100, but it’s money well spent.