Have your energy bills increased over the past few years? If so, it’s a safe bet that your heating and air conditioning system is losing efficiency. Consequently, it costs you more money to operate than it has in the past.
HVAC systems can become less energy-efficient over time for multiple reasons. Below, we’ll explain the most common causes in more detail and provide you with some possible solutions to get your energy bills back to a reasonable price.
1. You need to change your air filters more frequently.
Your system’s air filter has the task of keeping dust, hair, and other airborne particles out of the machinery that heats and cools your air. Even though the air filter is designed to get dirty, it shouldn’t get so filthy that it’s clogged with gunk. When dust blankets your air filter, it prevents an adequate amount of air from circulating through your HVAC system, which, in turn, lowers your HVAC system’s efficiency.
Solution: Replace your air filters more often. Check on them after the first 30 days and then once a week after that.
2. Your air conditioner’s coils are dirty.
Your air conditioner has two coils. The evaporator coil (located in the indoor unit) absorbs heat from your home's hot air. The condenser coil (located in the outdoor unit) releases that absorbed heat outdoors. Over time, these coils can get coated in dust, dirt, grime, and sometimes even mold! When that happens, the coils can't absorb and release heat efficiently, which decreases your AC's cooling power and can lead to a system failure.
Solution: Contact an HVAC company to clean your coils and service your HVAC system.
3. Your furnace burners are dirty.
Like dirty coils in an AC, if your furnace's burners are caked with dust and debris, your heating system will struggle to perform its job. Dirty burners don't burn fuel efficiently and can have ignition issues. An easy way to tell if you have dirty burners is to check the flame color. If it's blue, they're clean. If it's yellow, they need to be cleaned.
Solution: Clean the burners. While it's possible to complete this on your own, if working around equipment with flammable gas and fire makes you uncomfortable, it's best to involve an HVAC technician. Remember, safety first!
4. The motor is overdue for maintenance.
Your HVAC system's motor requires routine maintenance to combat the effects of normal wear and tear. The motor can suffer from dust buildup and should be routinely lubricated. When an HVAC technician services your system, they will not only perform these essential services but also check the motor for loose components and worn parts that could jeopardize your system.
Solution: Contact an HVAC company to service your HVAC system.
5. Your ductwork has leaks.
Unlike the hard, sturdy ductwork we’re used to seeing action heroes crawl through in movies, residential ductwork is often much more flexible and prone to damage. Gaps can form in the joints over time, and sometimes rodents can even chew holes in the sides. Even if your HVAC system is in peak condition, you could be wasting a lot of energy on air losses through leaky ductwork.
Solution: Contact an HVAC company to examine your ductwork for air leaks. Unless your air ducts are in terrible condition, they should be able to repair and seal your ductwork to make your system more efficient.
6. Your equipment is getting old.
Routine maintenance can prolong your HVAC equipment's lifespan and help maintain its performance, but old age can still cause the equipment's efficiency to decrease. These are the average lifespans you can expect from your heating and cooling system's major components:
Furnace: 15 to 20 years
Air conditioning unit: 10 to 15 years
Solution: If your energy bills become astronomical and your HVAC equipment is nearing the end of its life expectancy, it’s best to start getting bids for a system replacement. Keep in mind that most systems are made to be more energy-efficient than they used to be, and a trusted HVAC contractor can help you choose equipment with the proper capacity to meet your home’s unique needs. Remember: buying a system that’s “too big” or “too small” will give you expensive energy bills all over again!