Heating and cooling can account for as much as half of the energy used in your home. Making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your comfort — and your utility bills. Steps can be taken to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system in your home.

Regularly change your air filter

Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter can slow down the air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool in addition to wasting energy. Clean filters will prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system causing expensive maintenance or early system failure.

Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly

Yearly tune-ups of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.

Install a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats are ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

Seal your heating and cooling ducts

Sealing and insulating ducts improves the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent.

If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR. Depending on where you live, replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified equipment can cut your annual energy bill by nearly $200. But before you invest in a new HVAC system, make sure that you have addressed the big air leaks in your house and the duct system. Sometimes, these are the real sources of problems rather than your HVAC equipment. Ask about Proper Installation of your new equipment

Replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with new, energy-efficient models is a great start. But to make sure that you get the best performance, the new equipment must be properly installed. In fact, improper installation can reduce system efficiency by up to 30 percent — costing you more on your utility bills and possibly shortening the equipment’s life.

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