Increasing your current HVAC systems’ efficiency and lifespan go hand in hand. By increasing your efficiency, you are inadvertently increasing its’ lifespan too. Sound good? In this article, we will get into some of the things that you can easily do yourself today and increase your systems’ efficiency and lifespan.
There are a few, simple maintenance measures that you can take to increase the efficiency and lifespan of your equipment. The first is regularly changing your air filter. A dirty air filter causes unnecessary strain on your blower motor. Imagine running a marathon. Then imagine running that same marathon with a hand over your nose and mouth. Sound crazy right?! Who would do that?! Well, when you run your system with a clogged air filter, that is exactly what you are making your blower motor do! This causes the motor to have to work harder to attempt to draw air through the filter. This causes the motor amperage to increase and leads to lower efficiency, a higher electric bill, and decreased motor lifespan. On top of that, this can cause damage to your furnace from overheating and damage to your ac unit and cause your evaporator coil to freeze. As you can see, those cheap filters can cause some expensive damage when not replaced promptly.
I also recommend removing the blower door and cleaning the blower compartment regularly, paying special attention to the blower motor cooling plate. These can become clogged with debris over time and cause the motor to overheat. Simply vacuum the blower compartment out and use a small brush to loosen up any debris.
The next thing you can do is to be sure that all of your vents are open and unobstructed. Closing and blocking vents lead to a lack of airflow to the system which can cause similar symptoms as a dirty air filter. Each system is designed specifically to correspond to the number of vents in the home. Blocking vents would be mimicking an oversized HVAC system, causing poor efficiency and a shorter lifespan. An oversized system will rapidly heat and/or cool the home and shut down and repeat this process. A correctly sized system will heat and cool a home evenly over a slightly longer period, but not need to come back on nearly as often.
When it comes to air conditioning, the most common issue that causes a lack of efficiency and decreased lifespan is a dirty condenser coil. (Shown in the photo above) A dirty condenser coil causes a lack of airflow through the coil. This will cause the fan motor to have to work harder to attempt to pull air through the dirty coil causing an increase in amperage, power consumption, and decreased lifespan of the motor and compressor. When the coil is blocked, the unit cannot reject its collected heat. Many “poor cooling calls” are directly related to a blocked condenser coil. If you have a heat pump system, this will also cause a lack of heat during the winter months. All you need to do is get out the hose and spray it off from top to bottom.
Your thermostat controls the temperature and comfort level of your home. Many people believe that they can save money by changing the temperature drastically at certain times of the day and night. The reality is when you change the temperature more than a few degrees, then change it back, your system has to work twice as hard to get back to its original setting. This causes the system to have to work harder and stay on longer, essentially wiping out any money that you thought you were saving! By keeping the temperature setting at one, single temperature, you are saving money and efficiency because it is much easier for a system to maintain a set temperature rather than raise or lower it. If you have an old or analog-style thermostat, you may want to consider replacing it with a new, digital thermostat with more accurate temperature sensors. This will undoubtedly increase comfort and efficiency.
The last DIY project to take into consideration is insulation. By adding or upgrading your home’s insulation, you will have less conditioned air loss. This means that your system will have a lot easier time conditioning your home, increasing efficiency and lifespan. You may also want to consider insulating and sealing your ducts. Holes and gaps in ducts cause heat and cooling leakage to locations not intended for it. Seal any holes or gaps with some simple silicone and then wrap the ducts in insulation. This becomes even more important if your system is located in an unconditioned attic or garage where the temperatures are more extreme.
By following these simple steps, you will be on your way to a more efficient, longer-living HVAC system.