HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Most modern homes have an HVAC system. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that 91% of American homes have a centralized system, and a majority have all three components. Despite accounting for more than half the energy usage in the average home—according to the U.S. Department of Energy—home heating and cooling is something many of us take for granted. Until it breaks down that is. With that in mind, let us consider seven items that apply to the average home and which every homeowner should be aware of.
1. Your Heating and Cooling May Cost More Than It Should
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the typical household could save 15% of its current costs related to heated and cooling. Another way to look at this is that the average home is spending too much. So, what is the average homeowner doing wrong? The first common mistake is cooling and heating the home unnecessarily, such as when you are sleeping or when the family is at work and school. The easiest way to correct this is to invest in a programmable or smart thermostat.
The EPA also estimates that the average home is experiencing unnecessarily high air infiltration—or leakage. This can be fixed by sealing the attic and foundation and investing in storm windows and doors. Another issue is that the R-value of the typical home is too low based on current standards. The EPA recommends upgrading home insulation and insulating uninsulated areas, such as crawlspaces and basements. Industry trade associations also suspect that a lack of seasonal tune-ups is leading to an inefficient operation that causes more energy to be used and monthly utility bills to be higher.
2. Your HVAC System Determines Your Indoor Air Quality
Most Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors—in school, at work, and on the job. The EPA warns that indoor pollution is a serious health risk and that indoor pollution levels are at all-time highs. This is largely occurring because construction techniques are more sophisticated than ever. Better seals exacerbate issues related to poor ventilation and indoor pollution sources.
Your HVAC determines your indoor air quality because ventilation introduces fresh air to dilute pollution. In addition, heating equipment can cause pollution, such as carbon monoxide, and air conditioning can lead to the presence of mold. The EPA recommends having your ventilation inspected annually, your heating and cooling tuned up seasonally and your ductwork cleaned every three to five years—depending on the dustiness of your environment—in order to maintain good indoor air quality.
3. Static Pressure Is an Essential Aspect of HVAC Operation
Static pressure is a drag. It is the resistance to air being moved through your home whether that air is fresh or conditioned. Your equipment is designed to operate within a particular static pressure range. Your ductwork and vents are designed to allow the necessary airflow to achieve that target pressure.
If static pressure is too high, your HVAC equipment has to work harder. This can lead to a number of problems, including uneven heating and cooling, reduced efficiency, and thus a higher utility bill and, eventually, shortened equipment lifespan. The most common causes of increased static pressure are dirty air filters and closed air returns. You should generally not close vents even in unused rooms. The exception is zoned systems that have multi-stage air handlers that can adjust based on pressure.
4. Regular Maintenance Will Save You Money
Industry surveys reveal that many homeowners approach their HVAC with a break-fix mentality. In other words, they do not schedule service unless something goes wrong. While the break-fix approach is sound in some industrial scenarios, it is not financially sound when it comes to your home HVAC.
There are a number of reasons for this. Seasonal tune-ups are relatively inexpensive. That seasonal maintenance avoids surprises and staves of the vast majority of HVAC repairs. Regular maintenance also helps to maximize product lifespan and is, in fact, a requirement of nearly all HVAC warranties.
5. Losing Refrigerant Is Not Normal
There is a common but mistaken belief that air conditioning refrigerant—sometimes called Freon, which is a brand name—is something that your AC unit uses up as it cools your air. That is not to say that refrigerant will last forever in a perfectly sealed system. It will not. Refrigerant will last about 15 years before breaking down chemically and no longer allowing your AC to cool as it should.
Refrigerant leaks, however, are among the most common home AC problems. Even small leaks can lead to reduced comfort, higher energy costs, and increased equipment wear. Repairing a small leak can be an expensive proposition, and if the leak is severe or left unchecked, repairs can get so expensive that it may make more sense to replace your system depending on its age. This is one of the reasons that seasonal AC tune-ups are so crucial. A refrigerant issue can usually be identified before a leak occurs.
6. Your Ductwork Affects Your Comfort, Health and Wallet
Your ductwork is out of sight and therefore often out of mind. But it is an integral aspect of your HVAC system, and we mentioned earlier how important cleaning your ducts are. It reduces dust in the home, helps to keep pollution levels low, and can make your home less prone to viruses and the like. Your ducts will be inspected as they are cleaned. If seals are worn or other issues have occurred, these can be fixed while the damage is still relatively minor. Failure to fix these issues will generally result in air leakage, and that will cause your entire system to run less efficiently and thus at a higher cost to you.
7. SEER and AFUE Ratings Are Relative
SEER and AFUE are efficiency ratings for air conditioning and heating equipment. These ratings are relative in that they are achieved within the context of an ideal environment. Your home is not an ideal environment for conditioning air. No home is, and older homes are even less so. When judging whether a particular unit is worthwhile to you, you must take the entire home into account. In some cases, it may be worthwhile to perform a home energy audit and make home improvements based on that. In older homes, it may be better to target a more modest rating rather than one you will not benefit from.
Let Us Provide the HVAC Information You Need
Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating has been serving homeowners in San Antonio and throughout the surrounding areas since 1990. That means we have more than 30 years of experience meeting the needs of the Greater San Antonio area. Our team includes NATE-certified technicians, and we are BBB-accredited with an A+ rating, Dave Lennox Award winners, and proud ACCA and TACCA members in good standing. Our services include air conditioning and heating installation, maintenance, and repair. We also install, maintain, and repair air ducts, and our indoor air quality services are a great way to keep your home healthy.
Call us today or contact us online with any questions about our services or to book an appointment!