Spring is in the air and it’s that time of year again to clean up your home. As with all of the other areas in your home, your air conditioning unit (HVAC) needs to be checked over and cleaned to ensure that it will operate properly in the warmer months of the year. Over time dirt can clog your system, coolant can run low and your filter can become filled with debris, reducing the effectiveness of your air conditioner.
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, the average household energy expense is about $2,200 per year, and nearly half that amount can be tied directly to costs associated with heating and/or cooling your home. The costs associated with controlling the temperature in your home are significant, and if your HVAC system isn’t running efficiency, then your costs only go up. Fortunately, ensuring your HVAC system is running at peak performance doesn’t always require an expensive repair bill. There are plenty of things you can do to make sure your HVAC system is up to the task with a little preventative maintenance
There are several steps you can take to clean out your air conditioner and have it running effectively without any help from a service professional. All of these steps are easy to follow and will only take a few hours to finish. If your air conditioning system seems to have a serious issue, call in an expert to take a look at your unit.
- Change the furnace filter. Why is this tip number one? Simple: It’s easy to do and can have a big impact on the health of your HVAC system. A clean filter can reduce your energy usage by 15 percent according to the Alliance to Save Energy. If your filter is temporary, replace it every month on a day you’ll remember — like the first of the month. And if it’s a permanent filter, take it out and rinse it off monthly.
- Clear the drainage hole. Air conditioners commonly have a drainage hole located at their cabinet’s base. The hole is usually located beneath the evaporator fins. In order for your air conditioner to work effectively, this hole must be kept clear. While the hole may be too small for you to clean out manually, a paper clip or small piece of wire works wonderfully.
- Drying out your dehumidifier. Depending on the time of year, a dehumidifier can be invaluable. To be sure it’s working at maximum capacity, remove the outer casing and allow your system to dry. Once the system is dry, vacuum the entire unit to remove excess dirt and debris before putting it back together.
- Remove obstructions around your exterior system. Though the AC is located outside your home, you cannot afford to sacrifice your air conditioner to the elements. Inspect the unit at least twice a month and remove loose vegetation or debris. Standing vegetation surrounding your air conditioner should not be allowed to grow within two feet of the unit. This clear zone allows your air conditioner to pull in the air it needs to control the temperature in your home.
- Clean the bathroom fans. Your bathroom fans work hard all year and this is the perfect time to ensure the work they do is as efficient as possible. Remove the covers from your fans before washing them with soap and water. Once the covers are off, use a toothbrush to clean the fan blades before reapplying the cover. Just make sure the power is off before starting this task.
- Add a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats allow you to program the temperature settings in your home so you can set your home to be warmer during periods when you’re away and more comfortable when you’re home. The system will also communicate with you and provide ways of saving even more energy and lowering your monthly bill. Follow its recommendations and you’ll get new tips that can help you save even more.
- Schedule a tuneup. Once you’ve accomplished all the tasks above, it’s time to bring in the experts. Your local HVAC prfofessional will be able to take a more detailed look at your system and identify problems you may have otherwise missed. Follow them around during their inspection and ask questions. You may just learn some insights that will be invaluable in your ongoing efforts to reduce your energy usage and total bill.