3 HVAC tips that will help first-time homeowners stay cool this summer

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Outdoor home air-conditioning unit against the side of a home

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.

Categories: Buyers, Homeowners, Renters
Tags: first-time buyers, hvac tips, home maintenance tips


Anderson on 04/26/2017

Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and also the rest of the site is also very good. Keep it up and I am looking forward to read more about your air condition tips.

Sarah Smith on 03/15/2017

I want to be sure I take good care of my HVAC services. Thanks for the information about how you waste energy when you close or block vents. Another thing to consider is to get your HVAC system inspected once a year. Then you can be sure everything is in working order.

siaosi on 03/07/2017

I have had some really bad allergies the last few months. I did not know that my AC could make such a big impact on my air. I would like to make sure that my system is going to be checked completely.

Johnny McCarron on 03/06/2017

I like that you touched on changing the air filters frequently. You really want to be sure that you are doing the right thing when it comes to taking care of your air conditioner. Filters are often forgotten, but they really can make a difference if you are taking care of them. Do you have any other tips about caring for your air conditioner?

Mesa AC Services on 02/20/2017

Great advice! Thank you for sharing post with us.

HVAC Experts of Arizona on 02/18/2017

Awesome information you’re sharing, thank you for posting. My Arizona company specializes in HVAC repairs.

Braden Bills on 02/07/2017

I want to make sure that my HVAC system works all summer. I didn’t know that it was so important to change the filter! I’ll make sure that I find out exactly how often I need to replace this specific filter.

Ben Allen on 02/06/2017

Thanks for the tips on how to stay cool during the summer. I agree that it is important to ensure that you are changing your air filters often so the air can move through the unit without any real issues. I would imagine that if you live in a dusty place you would have to change the filters even more often. I will be sure to share this with my mom who just got a new AC unit.

siaosi on 02/03/2017

I want to make sure that my air conditioning is cleaned up. I want to make sure my system is working efficiently. I want to make sure my pets allergies do not get stuck in the filter.

Green Energy Audits on 01/31/2017

Thanks for the great share about HVAC! It is much more convenient if you have a home more energy efficient, comfortable and safe to live in.

Johnny McCarron on 01/09/2017

I love that you talked about frequency of changing your filters. Often, we forget about the importance of changing those things. However, it really can help the air quality in your home feel much better. Do you have any other tips about getting your air conditioner working better?

Caden Dahl on 01/09/2017

Thanks for bringing to my attention that a need for a coolant charge means there’s an underlying problem. My air conditioner hasn’t been cooling the air as well as it should, and I think it’s because the coolant is low. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a professional come and charge that, and I’ll have them fix the source of the problem while they’re at it.

Davidson J on 11/15/2016

Great tips here. Maintaining your equipment is crucial to have it run properly! Thanks for sharing.

Lillian Schaeffer on 11/02/2016

This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that an air conditioner needing coolant indicates a leak. My husband and I recently moved into our first house, so we’re new to taking care of an HVAC system. The coolant seems to be low, so we’ll definitely look into having a professional come and inspect for a leak. Thanks for the great post!

Sarah Smith on 11/02/2016

I just got a new HVAC system, and I want to keep it in good condition. Changing your filter on a monthly basis is a great idea to keep allergens down. Another way to help your HVAC unit is to get it professionally inspected once a year so that you can catch any problems early on.

Braden Bills on 10/31/2016

I want to make sure that my HVAC system is healthy. It makes sense that I would want to have the air filter changed! I’ll hire a professional first so that they can show me how it’s done.

Eli on 10/14/2016

I am starting to think that everyone could benefit from a little training on HVAC use and maintenance. This article helps explain why proper air circulation is the key to saving energy and having efficient heating or air conditioning. Thank you for sharing these smart tips that everyone should follow.

Rosie Gaudet on 10/12/2016

I didn’t realize there are allergy-reducing filters! That is so good to know since I suffer from awful allergies. I would love to do all I can in order to limit the problems I have that are a result of allergies. It would be so nice to be able to breathe better in my home so it is more comfortable for me there.

Johnny McCarron on 10/11/2016

I really like that you talked a bit about allergies and the importance of changing your filters. I think that people often don’t weigh into consideration the positive kind of impact it can have on your health. However, it really does make a difference to have clean air filters. Are their particular filters that you would suggest over others?

Luke Yancey on 10/04/2016

I liked your tip about buying cheaper filters when you have pets. I have two cats and consistently need to change my filter. I never really considered looked for a cheaper filter to reduce the cost. I will go ahead and start looking. Thank you for the advice!

Jalu Saktii on 09/27/2016

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.

Lillian Schaeffer on 09/07/2016

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!

Faylinn on 08/12/2016

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?

Kendall Ryder on 08/04/2016

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.

Kendall Everett on 08/03/2016

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.

Sarah Smith on 07/19/2016

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.

Kendall Everett on 07/18/2016

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.

emily bennette on 07/12/2016

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.

Hazel Adams on 07/06/2016

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.

Emily Bennette on 06/01/2016

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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