For homeowners, HVAC equipment can take a real bite out of utility budgets. Heating and cooling costs make up roughly half of an average household’s energy spend. As appliances like air conditioners run overtime during extreme weather, energy bills skyrocket. Making matters worse, the HVAC components hiding in our basements and attics remain shrouded in mystery for most property owners.

However, you can uncover simple ways to realize savings and take control of HVAC costs. Homeowners like you can optimize these major energy consumers year-round through minor tweaks and adjustments and an improved maintenance program.

So, let’s explore tips across four key areas: servicing your equipment, tweaking thermostat use, investigating upgrades, and examining insulation. By better understanding how your HVAC system functions and the critical areas for concern, you’ll keep more green in your wallet and help reduce those utility bills.

Tips to Save on Utility Costs for Homeowners

  1. Perform Regular Maintenance
  2. Keep Consistent Thermostat Setpoints
  3. Upgrade Old or Inefficient Equipment
  4. Improve Insulation in Your Home

Perform Regular Maintenance to Avoid Shock Repair Costs

Urgent repairs or replacements can run into the thousands when an HVAC system fails outright. But many catastrophic, budget-busting issues arise from skipped maintenance, letting preventable problems spiral out of control. This is why consistency with servicing is key for avoiding big bills. As Northern Air Mechanical Services, a company offering Phoenix HVAC solutions, recommends, an ounce of maintenance is worth a pound of cure.

Most manufacturers prescribe two professional tune-ups per year to preserve performance and lifespan, commonly once before peak summer and again before winter. During checkups, a reputable technician will check refrigerant levels, test electronic components, clear any obstructed airflow, clean coils and filters, and ensure proper drainage.

While checkup costs range from $75 to $150, this modest fee prevents far more expensive issues later. Technicians can also advise on any equipment showing early signs of wear before they develop into enormous strains on your finances.

Homeowners need not totally outsource care either. Learning how to replace HVAC filters yourself every three months is not difficult. Beyond filter swaps, you can also clear any vegetation or clutter blocking outdoor compressor/condenser unit ventilation to increase efficiency and avoid unnecessarily high utility bills.

Stick to Your Thermostat Setpoints Judiciously

Many homeowners drastically overcool their spaces in summer and crank the heat excessively high once winter hits – habits that pad bills unnecessarily and overwork heating/cooling equipment. So, show your HVAC system a little mercy and be more judicious around thermostat setpoints.

As a rule of thumb, aim to keep home temperatures between 68° and 78°F year-round. Cooling to any temp lower than 68°F stresses AC compressors with little added comfort benefit. Nudging to 72-75°F sufficiently cools most homes without the drastic temperature extremes. Similarly, a 68°-72°F sweet spot hits comfort goals without overexertion for heating systems.

Installing a programmable or “smart” WiFi-connected thermostat can also make your life much easier (and cheaper). They learn household schedules and preferences, auto-adjusting to economize runtime. Programmable platforms allow easy seasonal setpoint templates where you simply tweak a few baseline settings every six months rather than constant manual overrides, wasting money daily.

If you can upgrade to an ENERGY STAR-certified smart thermostat, you can save around 10% annually on your utility bills.*

Upgrade Old/Inefficient HVAC Equipment

As with most home systems, HVAC components eventually age out. Air conditioners typically last 10-15 years. That’s why continuing to invest in maintenance on an ancient unit often makes less financial sense than replacement, especially considering modern HVAC efficiency gains. For example, a 20-SEER central air conditioning unit made in the past decade can be over 30% more efficient than older 10-SEER models, saving hundreds per year.

Rebates and tax credits are also available to help you with costs. For starters, ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment comes with varying rebates by state, topping out at around $800 per system. There are also federal tax credits and state/utility provider rebates to offset the cost of a  replacement.

While daunting, understand that replacing aged equipment typically pays for itself over 5-7 years of cumulative energy savings in many homes. If you’re unsure, An HVAC technician can assess existing units and advise whether replacement makes economic sense. They can also size and install appropriately efficient new systems.

Lastly, the obvious benefit of a replacement air conditioning system is that it will make a world of difference in home comfort and annual costs over limping on by with outdated equipment.

Improve Home Insulation

Even the most high-efficiency HVAC equipment struggles to keep spaces comfortable in leaky, poorly insulated homes. Heat escapes through thin attics and walls rapidly in winter. Likewise, indoor air leaks out quickly once ACs switch off, allowing homes to overheat again in summer.

Adding insulation minimizes transfer between your interior and outdoors, reducing the runtime required by heating/cooling equipment. While a DIY enthusiast can tackle small jobs, hiring insulation professionals for whole-home improvements guarantees expertise.

Specialists will assess where deficiencies exist, air seal penetrations, and pump cellulose or spray foam insulation into thinly covered cavities. They’re also much better places to address the intricacies around plumbing, wiring, and venting.

Even targeting just attic insulation provides a major bang for your buck. R-30-rated attic insulation meets code in most regions, but upgrading to R-38 or R-60 further reduces conductive heat transfer through ceilings and improves HVAC efficiency. If you can combine added insulation with sealing obvious gaps around pipes, wires, and vents, then you’re likely to enjoy even better results.

Keep Comfort Affordable Through Informed HVAC Savings

So there you have it – we’ve covered the minor upgrades and adjustments that can have outsized impacts on home HVAC efficiency.

Performing regular maintenance keeps equipment humming along reliably for years while heading off expensive reactive repairs. Adjusting thermostat setpoints eliminates overworking systems for marginal comfort gains. And investigating newer unit upgrades and insulation improvements builds energy savings for the long run.

When you try a few of these for yourself, remember to approach home HVAC health with a system mindset. Understand how each component functions and networks together for peak performance. Thermostats cue systems, filters and coils distribute air, insulation retains temperatures, and minor inefficiencies anywhere strain the whole.

Tackle your utility bill and keep comfortable by learning your equipment’s needs, upgrading pieces past their prime, and staying vigilant around preventative servicing. Little consistent tweaks balance the comfort you desire with affordable, responsible energy usage year after year. Here’s to staying comfortable while keeping costs in check.

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