You don’t need to check the thermometer or tune in to the local news to figure out that winter is once again closing in on us. In New England, this inevitably means battening down the hatches and preparing for the weather that’s sure to come. But before you crank up your thermostat and pull on that extra thick sweater, there are a few things you can and should do to help keep your energy costs from skyrocketing. In particular, winterizing your HVAC system.
In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that giving your HVAC system a little bit of TLC before winter can reduce energy consumption by anywhere from 15 to 25 percent. Here’s what you need to do to get your unit prepped for the coming months.
Shut Off Power to Your A/C Unit
Believe it or not, one of the most common service issues come spring time is mice. Even though you’re not actively using your air conditioning, if you don’t disconnect its power source the unit can become a haven for tiny rodents seeking shelter and warmth from the weather and cold temps. To prevent unwanted guests from taking shelter in your A/C unit (and all the damage that comes as a result), be sure to shut off its power source as part of your winterization plan.
Get it Serviced
Having your HVAC unit serviced professionally can also do wonders for extending its life and maximizing its efficiency. Investing in a regular tune-up, clean-out and safety inspection will pay dividends in energy savings in the long run. Furthermore, if you do your homework, you can save even more by signing up for a service agreement. For instance, Wilson Bros. offers a Preferred Customer Agreement, which includes an annual 32-point inspection and maintenance checklist, priority service and more.
Winterizing your HVAC system can increase its lifespan and improve its overall efficiency, saving you money and unnecessary hassle in the long run. A few simple steps – like those listed above – and your home will be ready for whatever the New England weather has in store.
Clean Your Registers and Air Returns
Over time, dust naturally builds up on an HVAC’s vents and registers. If left unaddressed, that grit and grime can cause your system to have to work harder than it should just to blow enough air to heat your home and keep your family comfortable. Before the season gets any colder, remove and clean all grilles and registers and wipe around the openings to clean out your ducts. As a bonus, when you clean your registers, the air quality of your home will also improve.
Change Your Filters
If you’re like most home owners, changing your HVAC filters isn’t always at the top of your to-do list. But doing so frequently – particularly at intervals such as the transition from fall to winter – is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to prolong the life of your unit. Furthermore, because clogged filters can reduce airflow, your HVAC system will have to work even harder to maintain the temperature on your thermostat, reducing efficiency and driving energy costs up.
Change Thermostat Batteries
Without adequate battery power, your thermostat will not be able to properly control your HVAC system. This could lead to excessive heating of your home or possibly no heat at all. The changing of the seasons serves as an excellent reminder to replace existing thermostat batteries with new ones to avoid any potential heating issues over the coming months.
Seal Your Ducting
Poor insulation and unused vents can cause cold air to seep into your home, driving your energy bills up and keeping your family from being as warm and cozy as they could be. That’s why sealing all of your ducting is so important. The DOE recommends using foil, mastic or other heat-resistant tape as opposed to traditional duct tape which, ironically enough, is not nearly as effective on HVAC duct work. This is important because if your tape dries up, degrades or comes apart, it can result in leakage at the seams where heat can escape and outside air can permeate.
Tidy Up the Area
HVAC units that are located outside the home can easily become inundated with seasonal issues, like falling leaves, heavy snow and trickling icicles. You can protect your outdoor system from rust, clogs and other wear and tear by cleaning up the area surrounding your unit. Remove anything that could potentially clog your system and keep an eye on things as the weather worsens. A quick tidying up can do wonders for your system’s performance over the coming months and years. (If cleaning your unit isn’t your cup of tea, consider covering it for the winter instead.)
Have a Backup Plan
Another important way you can prepare your home for the cold winter months is to have a plan B, such as investing in a backup heating source or whole-house generator. That way in the event of a power outage due to inclement weather (something we are all too familiar with here in the Northeast), or your primary source of heat fails, your home and your family can remain warm and safe all season long.
If you are still concerned about your HVAC system’s performance, consider having one of our experienced technicians out to inspect it. We can make the necessary adjustments and provide professional advice and expert guidance on how to keep your family warm and comfortable over the coming months. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.