Saving money is always an attractive proposition, but think twice when those savings involve a do-it-yourself job on your heating and cooling system. It’s inadvisable to try and fix most HVAC issues yourself; you may end up causing more damage, leading to more expensive repairs. There are some basic maintenance activities you can perform on your own, but avoid making these common mistakes that can prove costly.
- Installing a thermostat yourself
You've probably heard you can save money by installing a programmable thermostat - and it's true. These thermostats give you more control over your home’s heating and cooling functions, allowing you to set temperatures based on a schedule so you aren’t heating or cooling an empty home They’re an easy way to boost energy-efficiency, which can result in savings. However, if you want to maximize your savings it’s best to call in a professional to do the job to ensure your thermostat is installed properly and working as it should.
- Hiding your HVAC system
If you have an outdoor HVAC system, you may be tempted to camouflage it behind shrubbery. The urge is understandable - the unit probably isn’t the most appealing element of your landscaping. However, surrounding it with plants or shrubs could block proper ventilation and clog the system. Always make sure there's plenty of open space around an HVAC unit.
- Skipping annual maintenance
Energy Star recommends yearly maintenance of your heating and cooling system. It can improve efficiency and extend the life of your equipment, and an expert technician can spot small problems before they become large, expensive ones. Make scheduling a maintenance visit part of your spring cleaning and winterizing routines.
- Ignoring noise from your system
Loud noises aren't a normal part of an HVAC system. If you notice that your furnace or air conditioner seems to be making a great deal of noise, call a professional to make an evaluation. That excessive racket is a sign that your system isn't working properly and it should be examined.
- Ignoring stale smells
If you notice strange odors or the air in your home seems stagnant, it could also be a sign that something is wrong with your HVAC system. Don't cover these smells up or ignore them - call a heating and cooling professional.
- Placing appliances near the thermostat
Make sure that no lamps, TVs or other heat-emitting appliances are too close to the thermostat. Your thermostat can register the rise in temperature and respond accordingly, leading to higher bills in the summer and a colder home in the winter.
- Abandoning your ceiling fans
Purchasing an HVAC system doesn’t mean you no longer need overhead fans. The two should be used together: fans assist in circulating the air in your home, helping you get the most out of your HVAC system. Set your fans to turn clockwise in the winter, creating an updraft that will push warm air downward. Reverse the motor to move the blades in a counter-clockwise rotation to create a breeze effect in the summer.
- Skipping filter changes
The filters on your furnace and air-conditioning system need to be checked and changed regularly [link to article]. A dirty or clogged filter will impact efficiency and could even cause damage to your system. Change filters every 1 – 3 months, per the manufacturer’s instructions. You may find you need to change them more frequently during times of heavy use, or if you have pets or live with a smoker.
- Trying to fix things yourself
Unless you're a registered heating and cooling contractor, keep in mind there are no consumer-serviceable elements on your HVAC system. While you may think you’re saving yourself some money by trying to make your own repairs, you could actually end up causing greater damage to your system and costing yourself more money in the long run.
- Calling the cheapest service people
An HVAC system is a critical part of your home and a big investment. You should only trust it to highly-qualified technicians, even if it means spending a little extra.
As a homeowner, it’s important to have a highly-qualified HVAC professional whom you can contact when you encounter problems with your furnace or AC. Your local One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating® technicians are always here to help.