Heating and cooling systems are the main energy consumers in homes, accounting for over 40% of total energy usage.
With increasing energy costs and a growing environmental awareness, homeowners are seeking effective ways to reduce both their HVAC expenses and carbon footprint.
Fortunately, even small adjustments to daily habits and minor system upgrades can result in substantial savings. In this comprehensive guide, we present ten expert tips to help you cut down on HVAC costs and minimize your impact on the environment.
By implementing these practical strategies, you’ll not only maximize your system’s efficiency but also reduce your utility bills and contribute to a greener planet.
Must Read: Everything you need to get started with HVAC
Here are the 10 Effective Tips to save money on HVAC bills:
Tip #1: Adjust Your Thermostat Settings
One of the simplest yet effective ways to reduce HVAC costs is to change your thermostat settings. Both heating and cooling empty your wallet. By tweaking the temperatures, you can expend less energy.
Here are some thermostat adjustments to consider:
- In the summer, set your thermostat to 78°F or higher when you are home. For even more savings, you can opt for a higher temperature during peak hours.
- In the cooler months, keep your thermostat around 68°F during the day and 60-65°F at night.
- Install a programmable thermostat to automatically dial back temperatures 10-15 degrees when you are sleeping or away from home. This can reduce HVAC runtime by up to 33%.
- Consider getting a smart thermostat like the Nest Learning Thermostat. It learns your schedule and preferences, automatically adjusting the temperature to conserve energy when you are out.
With a few simple thermostat modifications, the average homeowner can reduce their cooling costs by up to 15% and their heating costs by up to 8%.
Tip #2: Seal those Air Leaks
Gaps and cracks in your home’s structure allow conditioned air to escape and unconditioned air to infiltrate, forcing your HVAC system to work harder. By sealing these gaps, you can significantly enhance efficiency:
Here are some common places to check for leaks:
- Window frames
- Door frames
- Electrical outlets
- Attic hatches
What to do after you find a leak?
Apply caulk, spray foam, weather-stripping, and expanding foam sealant for larger gaps. You can also opt for professional air sealing services if needed, costing between $400 and $1000. Annual checks are recommended to identify and seal new gaps.
Sealing air leaks can reduce heating and cooling costs 10-20% per year.
Tip #3: Install Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans circulate air, creating a wind chill effect that makes rooms feel more comfortable. Using them in conjunction with your AC allows you to nudge up the thermostat a few degrees without sacrificing comfort.
Run ceiling fans on high speed in the summer and reverse the direction so they blow downward. This creates a cooling breeze across your skin. Make sure to turn fans off when you leave a room to avoid unnecessary energy consumption.
In the winter months, set the fans to run clockwise on low speed. This gently circulates warm air from the ceiling throughout the room. Using ceiling fans can potentially help reduce cooling costs.
Tip #4: Minimize Heat Gain in Summer
During the hottest months, excessive sun exposure and internal heat generation can overburden your AC. Taking a few steps to minimize heat gain will improve efficiency.
On sunny days, close blinds, shades and drapes on windows getting direct sunlight. You’ll block out heat from entering your home. Open all window coverings on overcast days to take advantage of natural light.
Avoid using heat-generating appliances like ovens, dishwashers and dryers during the hottest hours of the day. The excess heat they produce will raise the temperature indoors. Run these appliances at night instead.
Ensure your refrigerator and freezer are properly maintained and keep their doors closed as much as possible. Reducing cold air leakage will cut down on heat emitted into your kitchen.
Ever wondered how Refrigerators work? Check out about the Vapour Compression Refrigeration Cycle (VCRS) the thing that makes refrigeration possible!
Tip #5: Use your Window Wisely
Strategically using windows can help minimize your reliance on HVAC systems:
- Create cross breezes by opening windows on opposite sides of the house.
- Use box or window fans to enhance air circulation.
- Heat and Humidity Control: Close blinds and drapes during the day to block sunlight and rely on AC when outdoor humidity is high.
Strategically utilizing natural ventilation can potentially lower cooling costs by a minimum of 3-5% annually.
Tip #6: Insulate Your Home
Proper insulation slows the transfer of heat into or out of your home and is crucial for maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature while minimizing energy consumption. Adequate insulation levels can vary across different areas of your home:
- Recommended Insulation Values:
- Attic: R-38, Walls: R-13 to R-21, Crawl Space: R-19.
- Regular Inspection:
- Check insulation levels in the attic, walls, and floors, and add more insulation if necessary.
- Cost and Application:
- Blown-in or batt fiberglass insulation costs $1-$3 per sq. ft. while ensuring proper installation is vital.
In addition, ensure insulation is evenly distributed without gaps or voids. Addressing insufficient insulation can lower HVAC energy use by up to 20%.
Tip #7: Don’t Forget to Change Air Filters Regularly
Frequently changing your air filters is a simple yet effective way to improve your HVAC system’s efficiency. Dirty filters hinder airflow, making your system work harder and consuming more energy. Consider these points:
- Filter Types: Standard fiberglass filters are affordable (around $1-2 each), while electrostatic and pleated filters that capture more particles cost $10-$15.
- Monthly Check: Check your filters monthly and replace them when dirty. Increased system usage may require more frequent changes.
- Mark the Date: Write the installation date on each new filter to track replacements.
Changing a dirty air filter can reduce your electricity bill by 5-15%, while also extending your system’s lifespan and maintaining indoor air quality.
Tip #8: Use a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
As mentioned earlier, programming your thermostat to reduce runtimes when you are sleeping or away can generate major savings. Today’s models make this process easier than ever.
With a programmable thermostat, you manually set the desired temperatures and times. For instance, you could set it to turn up to 82°F at 8 am on weekdays, dial back to 78°F by 6 pm, and adjust to 68°F by 10 pm.
Smart thermostats like the smart thermostats like Nest, Ecobee or Honeywell take efficiency a step further. They intelligently determine your schedule and make automatic adjustments to optimize settings for comfort and savings.
Programmable and smart thermostats lead to an average savings of $150 per year. The initial investment pays for itself in lower energy bills within a short time.
Tip #9: Embrace Solar Solutions
Harnessing the power of the sun to run your HVAC system can significantly reduce your energy costs and environmental impact. Solar panels generate clean, renewable electricity that can meet some or all of your heating and cooling needs.
Benefits of Going Solar for HVAC:
- Reduce electricity bills by 20-40% or more by lowering grid dependence
- Solar works well for HVAC because peak energy demand aligns with peak sunlight hours
- Lower your carbon footprint since solar emits no greenhouse gases
- Take advantage of tax credits, incentives, and accelerated depreciation
- Lock in lower, more predictable energy prices for years
- Increase your home’s value by adding modern solar amenities
Getting Started with Solar HVAC:
- Consult solar experts to assess your home’s solar potential based on roof space, orientation, and local weather patterns
- Choose a grid-tied system to supplement some power needs or off-grid for total energy independence
- Install an adequately sized solar array, typically 8-12 panels for an average home
- Connect the solar PV system to your HVAC unit or ductwork
- Add net metering with your utility company to get credit for excess solar energy fed back into the grid
- Maintain panels and trim any shading trees to maximize solar collection
The upfront investment for solar HVAC ranges from $10,000-$30,000 depending on system size, electric rates, and incentives. This pays off over time through 20+ years of free fuel from the sun. Going solar lets you take control of your energy costs while treading lighter on the planet.
Tip #10: Schedule Annual HVAC Service:
Regular maintenance by HVAC professionals is essential to maximize your system’s efficiency, longevity, and safety:
- Maintenance Tasks: Thoroughly clean ducts, coils, drains, and other components, inspect and repair refrigerant leaks, adjust airflow, and verify combustion system safety.
- Benefits: Proper maintenance can save 15-30% on annual HVAC energy costs and extend your equipment’s operating life.
Routine HVAC service reduces emissions by 500-1000lbs of carbon dioxide per year by enhancing efficiency and reliability.
Small daily practices combined with key equipment upgrades go a long way towards lowering HVAC costs and environmental impact. When implemented together, these home energy tips can reduce your annual heating and cooling expenses by hundreds of dollars.
As you take control of your energy consumption, you’ll not only enjoy reduced utility bills but also contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet. Consult HVAC professionals to ensure the successful implementation of these strategies and enjoy both financial and environmental benefits.