Heating and air conditioning maintenance companies often get calls for service during the winter. It’s common for homeowners to have HVAC issues for a number or reasons. For example, if you don’t maintain your HVAC unit, it’s likely that it will fail when you need heat during the winter months, as this is the time when it will be working the hardest.
Another reason could be that your home is losing a lot of heat. This usually happens if you don’t inspect it for air leaks. There are many areas where leaks can occur, such as around your windows and doors. Thermal bridging is also a common culprit. This happens when there are many conductive materials around your house and not enough insulation to prevent them from transferring heat or cold.
HVAC installation companies often stress the importance of keeping a home as insulated as possible so it can benefit from the continued use of an HVAC unit without wasting energy. In addition to energy waste, a home with poor insulation and multiple air leaks is likely to put a heavy strain on the HVAC unit that’s trying to keep it warm and comfortable. This is why HVAC units break prematurely, necessitating repairs or replacement.
If your home doesn’t waste energy, it won’t overwork the HVAC equipment and cause a spike in your utility bills. There are ways to make sure your home isn’t an energy black hole in the winter. Here are some of them:
Prepare your HVAC unit. Call your HVAC contractor and have your HVAC unit inspected at least twice a year, preferably before summer and winter, as these are the seasons that put the most strain on your heating and cooling systems. And if you need HVAC repair, at least it won’t be during the middle of a freezing winter or searing summer.
Call your technician even if you don’t notice anything wrong with your unit. The point is to maintain your equipment so it works efficiently all year. Besides, a routine inspection by an expert can help you spot potential problems before they become an expensive repair or replacement issue.
Replace your curtains. Sheer curtains or no curtains at all might work when the weather is moderate, but in the winter, thick curtains can help insulate your home from frosty outdoor temperatures and keep heated air indoors. You can even find curtains with thermal lining.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on thick curtains. You can use cheap fleece or even PVC shower curtains. Adding a second layer of blinds also helps.
If you’re worried about drafts coming in every time someone opens an exterior door, you can also place thick curtains over your doors for added protection.
One word of advice: allow the sun to come through your windows. This will help keep your home warm and reduce the load on your HVAC unit. This means opening blinds and thick curtains during the day and closing them when darkness falls.
Invest in double-glazed windows. Heating and air conditioning maintenance companies recommend saving up and replacing your old windows with modern ones that have double glazing. Choose ENERGY STAR®-rated windows with an inert gas fill between the panes. These windows are built to be highly energy efficient, especially if the glass is Low-E. They keep your home cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter.
Windows are notorious for leaking air, making your heating system work harder to achieve the right indoor temperature. This means your system could break down from all that hard work, and it will also consume more energy. When you replace your windows, you’ll see that the investment pays for itself over time. Homebuyers also favor houses with energy-efficient windows, so you can even use them as leverage to raise the price when selling your home.
If you can’t afford new, energy-efficient windows right now, you can still do something about your window heat loss problem and avoid frequent calls for HVAC repair: you can buy a special window film that’s meant to make windows more energy efficient. This film effectively seals your windows. The downside is you’ll have to break the seal if you need to open a window. That said, the film is cheap, so you can replace it if necessary.
One more thing you can do with old windows is to apply self-adhesive foam strips. These strips seal gaps along the edges of a window, stopping heat loss and also preventing drafts from entering.
Close or seal small holes. There might be some small holes around your windows, walls, ceiling, etc. You can seal them with a little caulk or weather stripping.
You probably don’t pay much attention to keyholes, but did you know that drafts can enter through them and make a room colder? You can buy cheap keyhole covers to solve this problem.
If you have a mail slot in your door, this is another reason your HVAC has to work extra hard to keep the house warm enough for comfort. Draft strips or brushes are popular for keeping drafts from entering the mail slot. You can buy these online for a few bucks and attach them yourself. You’ll immediately notice a difference.
Do something about that pet flap in your door, as well. You can buy simple wool insulation or even a blanket for the flap to keep the cold air out and the warm air in.
Keep furniture away from the radiators. If you have furniture blocking your radiator even partially, move it or find a new place for the furniture. You might think the couch is fine by the radiator, but it will absorb some of the heat from it, which means it will take longer for the room to get warm.
Keep doors closed. Unless you really need to, avoid opening doors. If you have rooms that you hardly ever use, shut and lock them. Heat likes balance, so it will move to a cold room immediately. This means the other areas of your home that you use often will temporarily lose warmth. It also means your heating system has to compensate, consuming more energy.
Add attic insulation. You can never have too much insulation in your attic. Adding insulation in this part of your home can help you stay comfortable, not just during the winter, but also during the hottest months of the year.
Heat naturally rises, so if there’s not enough insulation in your attic, heat is likely to enter that area and become trapped there if there isn’t enough ventilation. This will make your HVAC system work harder, your home feel less comfortable and your roof become too hot. This can also lead to the formation of ice dams, which can cause moisture damage
on your roof and to the rest of your home.
Prevent damage to your HVAC system and a surge in your electricity bills this winter by making sure your home isn’t wasting precious heat. The suggestions above should help get you started.
If you need help with your HVAC system this winter, get in touch with Cafco Services. We’re one of the most trusted HVAC installation companies in the area. Call us today at (513) 242-3400 or leave us a message here.