Even though the Phoenix valley is more famous for heat and sun, we do get a few cool months each year. With those cooler days and downright cold nights around the corner, it’s time to prepare your HVAC system for winter. Not only does it help keep your home comfortable year-round, a more efficient HVAC system helps lower power bills. The following tips give you a more efficient heating system. They should even help you come summertime.
Change Your Filter
If you’re like most Phoenix homeowners, your air conditioner has been working overtime for months. You already know you need to change your filter monthly during the height of summer. Now that you’re transitioning into winter, you need to replace that dirty filter with a clean, new one.
A dirty air filter is the number one reason homeowners experience problems with their HVAC system. That’s because a dirty, clogged filter can’t do its job properly. During the winter, we Phoenicians only need to change our air filters every two or three months. However, you still want to check it monthly.
Each time you replace the filter, take a few minutes to clean the air vents, too. You can run the vacuum attachment over them or just use a damp cloth. It’s a step lots of people forget, but clean vents go a long way toward keeping the air flowing freely through your ductwork.
Test Your HVAC System
It’s always a good idea to test your system before winter hits. Even though it doesn’t get that cold here, we have plenty of nights where temperatures drop into the 30s and 40s. You don’t want to discover your heater isn’t working when it’s literally freezing outside. First, of course, you want your family to be comfortable. But a close second is the fact that you’ll be one of dozens of people calling your HVAC company for repair. If your pre-season inspection reveals an issue, you’ll likely have a much easier time getting a service tech out quickly.
Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you haven’t already upgraded your thermostat to a digital model, consider doing so now. Older thermostats are often inaccurate. The result may be a house that’s too cold, but it can also go the other way. That means you’re not only uncomfortably warm, you’re also wasting power – and money.
Digital thermostats are both more accurate and programmable. You can program it to warm the house before everyone wakes in the morning, cool it when everyone leaves for work and school, and warm it again before everyone gets home. Some digital thermostats even let you customize settings for each day of the week.
Re-Program Your Thermostat
If you already have a digital thermostat, don’t forget to reprogram it for winter temps. We suggest setting the at-home temperature at around 68 degrees when people are in the home. This setting maximizes energy efficiency. When people are away for the day, drop the temperature down to about 65. Setting it any lower makes the unit run longer and harder to catch up later, meaning you don’t really save any money. However, if you’ll be gone for a few days, you can drop the temperature to the lowest setting.
Clean Your Heating Ducts
Homeowners often forget about their ducts, hidden out of sight the way they are. Periodic cleaning makes the entire system more efficient and keeps the air in your home fresh.
This is also a great time to check your ducts for issues. You want them to be properly sealed and insulated so that you aren’t heating the outside, as your mom always said (or was that just us?). Also, check your ducts for damage such as dents, cracks or holes, and any gaps or disconnections. These also create spaces for heated air to escape. Finally, check for mold.
You can check your ductwork yourself, but you can also make it part of your biannual HVAC inspection. When you let the pros do it, we inspect your entire system, including motors, switches, belts, and your thermostat.
Make Sure You Have Sufficient Insulation
Maintaining adequate insulation is a key factor in improving your HVAC system’s efficiency. With the right amount of insulation protecting your home, neither your heater nor your AC has to work so hard to maintain a comfortable temperature.
EnergyStar recommends a simple visual test to determine whether you need additional insulation. If you can see the floor joists easily, you need more insulation. If not, you’re good to go.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
The easiest way to ensure your HVAC system remains in tip-top shape is routine maintenance. We recommend checkups every spring and fall. Your HVAC tech services the entire system, which helps stop problems before they start. When trouble does strike, it’s found early while it’s easier – and cheaper – to handle.
If you’re ready to schedule your HVAC service, call us at 480-352-8710 or fill out our contact form for a free estimate.