What are the Best Ways to Improve HVAC Efficiency?

Erin J. Hill

When a heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is running properly, a home should be kept at a relatively constant temperature. This temperature is generally set by the homeowner on a central thermostat, thereby allowing him or her to keep the house at a comfortable level. Sometimes, however, the system needs a little help in maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the home. HVAC efficiency can be improved by reducing the workload of the system.

Replacing older air conditioning and heating units with newer, energy efficient models can help reduce energy consumption.
Replacing older air conditioning and heating units with newer, energy efficient models can help reduce energy consumption.

One of ways of improving HVAC efficiency is to make sure proper insulation has been installed. Very old homes may have little insulation or the wrong kind altogether. This can result in rooms that do not hold hot or cold air efficiently, resulting in a system that runs longer and harder to make up the difference. Not only does this mean less comfortable room temperature, but higher energy bills as well.

Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.
Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.

Another way to enhance HVAC efficiency is to seal all windows and cracks to keep cold air out in the winter and warm air in the summer. Occasionally, the ductwork for the system will have leaks. These leaks can be sealed with special adhesives.

Keeping homes at a constant temperature, installing insulation, cleaning ducts and replacing dirty filters can improve HVAC efficiency.
Keeping homes at a constant temperature, installing insulation, cleaning ducts and replacing dirty filters can improve HVAC efficiency.

Proper maintenance is also very important for adequate HVAC efficiency. A system that is not running at optimum levels will not properly heat or cool any home. Any time a problem is noticed or suspected, maintenance technicians should be called. These professionals can generally find any problems and repair them before they get out of hand.

A programmable thermostat can reduce energy consumption.
A programmable thermostat can reduce energy consumption.

In some cases, poor HVAC efficiency is caused by an outdated system, or a system that is too small for the home. For an outdated system, repairs may be beneficial, but replacing the unit with a more up-to-date model may be the best way of improving performance. A replacement system will be in order for systems that are too small as well, but if the smaller unit is in good working order it may be sold to regain some of the money spent on a replacement.

Choosing the right system is another important factor in HVAC efficiency. Some units are more efficient than others. There are some heating and cooling systems that are sophisticated enough to change the temperature automatically while homeowners are away from home or sleeping. This can save hundreds per year on the home's energy bill.

The most important thing to remember in terms of HVAC efficiency, is to keep all doors and windows secured and to make sure the system has proper maintenance. Filters should be changed regularly, and vents should be kept open in rooms that need to be heated. Regular cleaning of the vents and outdoor components can also be beneficial.

A vent cover leading to an HVAC system.
A vent cover leading to an HVAC system.

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