Back to School Heating and Cooling Checklist
August 17, 2018
With everyone heading back to school, things are going to change — and fast. Along with your kids, your heating and air conditioning system will be on a different schedule too. With the kids gone and the weather cooling off, here’s a list of things you should take care of this fall.
1. Air filter
It’s a good idea to keep your indoor air quality as clean and healthy as it can be. To help facilitate your healthy indoor air, it’s important to check your air filter every 30 days and wait no longer than 90 days to replace it.
Back-to-school time is the perfect time to replace or clean your air filter to improve airflow, energy efficiency, and clean indoor air.
If you have pets or feel like your air is dirtier than it should be, consider checking and replacing the air filter a lot sooner.
2. Check humidity levels
Indoor humidity is important for your health and the health of your home and possessions. You can measure your indoor humidity levels with a hygrometer. Ideal relative humidity levels should fall somewhere between 30 and 55%.
If you want to raise or lower the humidity in your home, you may be able to add a portable indoor humidifier or dehumidifier, but the best way to maintain ideal humidity levels is by installing a whole-home humidification system.
Whole-home humidification systems are installed directly into your HVAC system so you get the same indoor humidity throughout the entire home as opposed to one room at a time. Additionally, the excess moisture is drained out of the home automatically as opposed to having to empty it yourself.
All you have to do is set your preferred humidity level and the machine will do the rest for you — either adding or removing moisture as necessary.
3. Thermostat control
Now that everyone’s schedule is changing so drastically, it’s important to reprogram your thermostat to fit the new school/work schedule.
For the best savings, set your thermostat back around 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for e8 hours or longer.
Read the owner’s manual and make sure to lower the thermostat setting when you are away from home. Raising or lowering the thermostat while you are away from home can add up significant savings. Additionally, you can set the thermostat to turn on about 30 minutes before you wake up so you can wake up to a warm or cool home as opposed to clinging to the blankets and wishing someone would turn the heat on and let you sleep for another 15 minutes.
Remember, setting the thermostat to a higher or lower temperature will not heat or cool the home any faster. No matter what temperature your thermostat is set at, your HVAC system outputs the same amount of air. Cranking the thermostat up or down will simply run the HVAC system longer, not faster.
Learn more about the different types other thermostats available to you.
4. Inspect Outdoor HVAC unit and Gutter system
Every 3 months or so, it’s a good idea to inspect your outdoor heat pump, condenser unit. You want to make sure there isn’t a lot of dirt and debris around the outdoor unit. It can clog the unit up and cause airflow problems, raising your risk of high energy bills and frequent repairs.
While regular professional tune-ups will hopefully professionally clean your outdoor condenser unit, it’s a good idea to supplement it with some cleaning of your own. To do this, first you need to remove any large pieces of debris by hand. Put gloves on first. Next, turn off power to your HVAC system and use a garden hose to rinse the unit off. There are some more steps involved, but that’s the gist of it.
Be careful not to spray the outdoor unit with any high-powered hose. Use a gentle spray to prevent any potential fin bending or damage.
Make sure any plants or shrubbery are cut back at least 24 inches away from the unit. When planting, keep in mind that the plants will grow.
Don’t forget to check your HVAC system’s wires for any damage or corrosion.
5. Check Your Refrigerant and Age
It’s a good idea to know what refrigerant your HVAC system uses as well as how old it is. If your air conditioner uses r-22 refrigerant, keep in mind that it is in the process of being phased out.
You can find out what kind of refrigerant your heat pump uses by looking at the nameplate information attached to your outdoor heat pump unit. It should tell you what kind of refrigerant it uses, along with bran, model, serial number, and a lot more. Learn more about the R-22 phaseout on the U.S. EPA website.
To find out the age of your outdoor heat pump unit, take a look at the serial number. While many nameplates have the manufacturer date printed on it, you may need to Google the serial number to see what year pops up. Either way, with the nameplate information, you should be able to tell how old your outdoor heat pump is, even if you have to use Google’s help.
If your air conditioner is over 10 years old or uses R-22 refrigerant, speak with a professional about modification or replacement options.
6. Eliminate Air Leaks
When it comes to saving money on your heating and air conditioning bills, insulation is important, but air sealing is probably more important.
If you haven’t gone around your home and replaced old caulking and weatherstripping, now is the perfect time to do so.
Use weatherproof caulk outdoors and expandable foam spray for any large gaps larger than ¼ inch. Look for areas around pipes, wires, vents, and other utilities that enter the building. Inspect your doors, windows, and attic hatch for proper weatherstripping.
You can test for air leaks around your home with a thin piece of toilet paper or incense stick. If the paper or smoke begins to move erratically, you have an air leak.
In addition to sealing air leaks around your outdoor shell, it’s important to also inspect leaks around your air ducts. While you can try sealing your air ducts yourself with mastic sealant or aluminum foil tape, it’s recommended that you contact a professional for the job.
Since around 20-30% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts, it’s important to address this problem sooner rather than later (Energy Star).
7. Schedule a Professional Tune-Up
September isn’t called Furnace Tune-Up Month for no reason. It’s highly recommended that you schedule professional air conditioning maintenance in the fall of every year.
Our technicians follow a strict HVAC maintenance checklist to make sure everything is running as smoothly and efficiently as it can. With regularly scheduled tune-ups, you can double the lifespan of your HVAC equipment, lower monthly energy costs, and improve indoor air quality, comfort, and efficiency.
Schedule your heating tune-up in September before the heating season starts up again. This way, you’ll know exactly what to expect for the upcoming heating season and make sure there are no heating breakdowns during the winter.
Fix-It 24/7 is here to check off all your back-to-school needs, including your electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems.
Contact us today to schedule your next HVAC tune-up to make sure everything is ready for the change in seasons.
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