There are a few factors that play into monthly heating and cooling costs. While system efficiency and mechanical malfunctions may be to blame, your behavior (i.e., the way you use your system) also has a big impact on your utility bills. Here are some common mistakes homeowners make that causes their monthly heating and cooling bills to soar:
- Closing forced-air vent registers
- Opening windows while the system is running
- Turning the temperature up or down without making adjustments in other lifestyle areas
- Leaving the system running when no one’s home
Some of these may be surprising, particularly the first and last two. The conventional wisdom is that shutting off airflow to parts of the house no one uses lets the system focus on areas where vents are open, therefore saving costs in the long run. But that assumption doesn’t actually line up with the way HVAC systems work, and closed vents actually make the system work harder. Similarly, the assumption that leaving the system on all day maintains a steady temperature and saves money seems like simple logic, but it’s not a realistic way to approach your HVAC system. Your system won’t “work harder” to heat or cool your house if you’ve turned it off for a while. Turning it off when no one’s home actually saves money.
How Can I Lower My Heating and Cooling Bills?
So what can you do to save money on your monthly HVAC-related utilities? One thing you can do is to run your ceiling fans all year long if you have them. Ceiling fans have switches that change the way the air circulates; one pushes air down, the other circulates air up. During winter months, you want to push that hot air down, and during summer months, you want to circulate the cool air throughout the room. Turn your fans on when you enter a room and turn them off when you leave. This may help you rely less on extreme temperature settings on your thermostat.
Open all the air registers all the way, don’t close doors or open windows during extremely hot or cold weather, make sure your home is properly insulated and close off any draughty areas around doors and windows. Turn your system off when you leave the house, take advantage of night time downtime to give the system a break, and generally use smart lifestyle decisions, like wearing a sweater around the house during wintertime rather than cranking the heat up and wearing shorts. Check your HVAC system’s filters and make sure you’ve got a clean filter properly installed. These suggestions should all help bring your bills down.
But what if you’re doing all of this and your bills don’t budge an inch? That’s when it’s time to call in a professional. Anything from HVAC equipment malfunctions to duct leakage can cause an expensive efficiency or functionality problem that you may not be able to fix on your own.