Green Talk: Make a New Year’s Resolution to give your HVAC a Tune-Up - Garden Voices
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January 12, 2009 6:07 PM

Green Talk: Make a New Year’s Resolution to give your HVAC a Tune-Up

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 energy star

Every year, we make New Year’s  Resolutions to lose weight, get more sleep, and eat healthier.  However, we never seem to make those resolutions about the structural components of our house.  Do you ever hear, “I vow to weather-strip my house, give my HVAC a yearly checkup, or check for leaks in my house?”  Ur, no.

Don’t get me wrong, New Year’s Resolutions to make you healthier are wonderful, but how about giving some love to the structure who shelters you from the cold and heat?  I have covered how to lower your energy consumption via your attic last year.  Try to cure your energy blues, and even try to help you close up your leaky house without telling the neighbors.  Yes, I have been that loyal friend trying to save you some green to be green.

I know energy conservation is just not as sexy as discussing red hot green tips for Valentines or discussing the pleasure of amazing, down to your toes, organic chocolate.  However,  it is one of those “do I have to?” concepts that everyone has to do to reduce our energy consumption.  Your wallet will thank you.  Even so much that you will be able to afford one of those extra naughty ideas from my Valentines’ post.  (I’m not telling, if you are not telling.)

Let’s make this as painless as possible!  We already had a lengthily discussion about how to give a little heating and cooling duct TLC, right?

Move the couch.

Check around your house and look if your registers are blocked by furniture.  All you are doing is heating the back of your couch. So, move the couch that is blocking the register!

Program it, Baby.

Get a programmable thermostat so you are not cooling or heating your house like it is full of people when you are at work. According to Energy Star, a programmable thermostat can save you $180 per year in energy costs.

Change the Filter.

Don’t forget to change the filter at a minimum every 3 months. Dirt will slow air flow and increase energy costs.  I have an electrostatic air filter which is supposed to capture 97% of the airborne particles.  My thermostat reminds me to clean it.  I simply wash off the filter in my shower and let it dry.  I really should have another backup filter for the system while the other one is drying. Ask your HVAC contractor, if  your system can utilize  this type of filter.

What about when you spackle or sand? I noticed the other day that there is always white gritty dust right by one of my register.  I asked my geothermal service person what the gritty stuff was.  He told me it was spackle and my filter could not pick it up.  He advised me to shut down my systems when I am either spackling or sanding especially since he noticed in the attic there was spackle dust in the ducts.

No kinks, please

Check to make sure there are no kinks in your duct vents.  Think of when you are vacuuming and the line gets kinked.  You lose suction. Well, your ducts are no different. See this article for how your flexible ducts should be installed.

Seal around the vents

When we were building, in order to obtain an energy star certificate for the house, we were required to seal around all of the vents.  Without these vents being sealed, air is lost under the floor or in the attic since many people have vents in their ceilings of their second floors. (See page 3 of this Department of Energy article as to how seal around the vents.)

Have your system checked

Treat your air condition and heating system like you treat your car.  Have the system checked yearly to make sure the supply and return air are balanced and whether or not the duct sizes are adequate for your system.

 ”The efficiency of air distribution systems has been found to be 60-75% or less in many houses because of insufficient and/or poorly installed duct insulation and leaks in duct systems. Properly designed and installed duct systems can have efficiencies of 80% or more for little or no additional cost, potentially saving a homeowner $50-200 or more per year in heating and cooling costs. Moreover, efficient duct system installations can reduce equipment size, further saving money for new or replacement equipment, according to the Department of Energy.

A simple yearly maintenance will be worth the cost.  I am on a yearly plan with my service provider.  They come in the fall and spring to check the system.

Replace any inefficient or broken systems

Is it time to replace your system?  Energy star has a list of tell tale signs that it is time for you to say good bye to your heating system. If your system is in need of replacement consider replacing it with an energy star approved system.  States rebates may be available. Check here for energy star rebates or credits.

Now, was that painful?

Photo courtsey of Energy Star.

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