Heating and Cooling Your Home

Are your utility bills too high? Studies reveal that most home heating systems, whether electrical or gas units, are less than 50 percent efficient. It may be that your home's ductwork needs to be insulated and sealed to enable proper air flow. Or it may turn out that a separate system and thermostat must be added to a particular area of the house.


Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are reversible air conditioners. In the summer, the pump collects heat from the house and vents it outside. In the winter, the pump pulls heat from the outside air and circulates it inside the house. Because heat pumps are the most efficient electrical heating system, they are preferred by many homeowners. However, they may be inadequate for less-than-moderate climates.

If you're considering installing a heat pump, be aware that you may also need to change the ductwork in an existing home, as heat pumps require larger ducts than central heating systems.

Programmable Thermostats

By allowing you to operate heating and air conditioning units at temperatures you desire at certain hours, programmable thermostats can help lower utility bills. Before installing one in your home, be sure it's compatible with your current heating and cooling system.

In most instances, you will need a screwdriver, an hour or two, and the ability to follow instructions. If your home has dual systems or a sub-base switching station, it might be a good idea to contact a professional to install the new programmable thermostat.

Solar Power

Increasingly, new homes are built with solar-powered systems. You can add to the value of your home, reduce energy costs, and help the environment by investing in alternative power systems.

Heating and Cooling Systems: Do-It-Yourself Maintenance

There are two types of filters for heating and cooling systems:

  • Disposable
  • Reusable

Depending on usage, disposable filters should be changed once a month. Regularly cleaning and changing the filter will prevent dirt from blocking the airflow, reducing energy costs.

Reusable filters can be removed and cleaned with a vacuum cleaner or water hose. If cleaning with water, make sure the filter is completely dry before putting it back into the vent. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommended cleaning schedule.

Also, clean around the filter frame to remove dust whenever you clean the filter. In older homes with baseboard heaters, clean the vents to make sure they are free of dirt and dust. If you are using ceiling fans to circulate air through your home, clean the blades at least once a month.

Heating and Cooling System Maintenance: Consider Hiring a Professional

Consider hiring a licensed professional to inspect and adjust your heating and cooling systems at least every other year. If you have ceiling and attic fans or a heat pump, those should be checked at the same time as the system's inspection. In addition to making changes that will save you money to heat or cool your home, inspections can also extend the life expectancy of your systems by several years.