3 HVAC tips that will help first-time homeowners stay cool this summer
04/29/2016 | Author: James Richmond, guest expert
Owning your first home is an exciting time, but it’s also a learning experience. All of those issues that the landlord once took care of are now your responsibility, including those related to your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit. Here are a few things you need to know to keep your air clean and comfortable.
Frequency of filter changes
The best authorities on filter-change frequency will be the manufacturer of your unit and your HVAC professional. Consult both your manual and your service provider for specific recommendations. As a general rule, though, your HVAC filter should be changed every six weeks to three months, but certain factors may require more frequent replacement.
Allergies. If you suffer from allergies and live in an area with a high pollen count, consider changing your filters monthly, at a minimum. You may also look into allergen-reducing filters.
Pets. Fur is a force all its own, and will clog your filter quickly no matter what brand or type you use. In a single-pet home, you should change your filters at least monthly. If you have multiple pets, a new filter could be necessary as often as every two weeks. In these cases, consider using less expensive filters so you can change them as often as needed without breaking the bank.
The closed-vent myth
Many first-time homeowners assume they are saving money by closing heating and air vents in unused parts of the home. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, you are wasting energy—and money—when you close your vents.
When your new home’s HVAC unit was first installed, its air flow was balanced based on the assumption of open vents. When you block vents, your unit has to work harder to maintain the same temperature throughout your home. In the short term, that means increased energy costs, and in the long term, it can actually decrease the life of your HVAC.
Low coolant and what it means
AC coolant isn’t a fuel, so it doesn’t get “used up” by your unit naturally. If your unit needs a charge, there’s an underlying cause—usually a leak. Left unattended, these types of leaks can worsen and cause serious damage, so be ready to recognize the early warning signs.
Does your thermostat seem to be working accurately, or are you continually having to set the temperature lower to remain comfortable? Is the air coming out of your vents noticeably cold, or only a bit cooler than room temperature? Pay attention to these things as you settle in for your first summer in your new home. If you start to notice a change, you may have an issue that needs to be resolved.
The last thing you want during the peak of a Texas summer is a broken air conditioner. With proper care and maintenance, though, your HVAC unit can keep you cool and comfortable in your new home.
James Richmond owns and operates Richmond’s Air in Houston.
I’m so glad I found this article. My wife and I are new homeowners, and we didn’t know half the things on this list for saving energy and money! I especially found your tip on keeping vents open helpful. I never knew it wasted money to close vents while your AC is on. We will keep all of this in mind from now on.
These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to change your HVAC filters regularly. My husband and I just moved into our first house, and we want to make sure we’re taking good care of our heating and cooling system. We’re going to have a professional come and do some basic maintenance on it, and while they’re here, we’ll definitely make sure to ask how frequently we should change out our filters. Thanks for the great post!
My boyfriend keeps closing our heating and air vents to save money and its really starting to irritate me. However, I don’t think that he realizes that it is actually increasing our energy costs. Of course, I hadn’t realized this either and may have to check with my last few bills to verify that. I also hadn’t realized that it could possibly decrease the lifespan of hvac system and I know that replacing that would be expensive too. Yet, by how much would it be decreasing it?
I had no idea that filters need to be changed every six weeks to three months! I haven’t had mine changed in about five months! I will need to get those changed ASAP.
I loved your tip to change the filters on a monthly basis to help reduce allergy issues. If you are changing the filter frequently, that will not only help with allergies but also help maintain the unit. Marking on the calendar when to change the filter would be a good way to avoid forgetting to change it.
My AC unit broke and I’m trying to learn how to take better care of my new one. Thanks for the advice about the closed vent myth and how you should keep all the vents open. Now I just need to find someone to install a new AC unit.
I had no idea that closing vents in unused parts of the home is bad for the unit. Closing vents does not mean the unit will know that that part of the home isn’t being used, so it makes sense. It may help to do a check of the home and ensure each vent it properly opened.
I have really bad pollen allergies and this summer they have been extremely bad. So, I like what you said about how it would be smart if you have allergies to change your filters every month. It does seem like it would be a good idea for me to try that and see if it helps.
I agree that allergies can come if you are not keeping your HVAC system clean. I think that changing your filters monthly is a great idea. This way you are reducing the risk of allergies.
I like what you said about how you should change your filters frequently. It does seem like it would help your HVAC run better as well. It might be a good idea to also have your system inspected regularly as well.
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