Spring break is right around the corner, and summer vacations will be here before you know it. While you’re planning your next trip, packing the sunscreen and arranging for someone to pick up the mail, you may not be thinking about your HVAC system or the optimal way to leave it as you leave your home empty.
This year, before you board a plane or hop into the car for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks away, try these tips for keeping your home in good shape, saving money on energy costs and maximizing the life – and efficiency – of your HVAC system.
Don’t Turn Off The Air Conditioner
If you’re going to be away, especially for a week or more, you may assume it’s best to turn off your air conditioner. After all, why spend money cooling and empty house?
Couple of good reasons, it turns out! First, if the weather is going to be hot, that heat can accumulate in your home and make it harder for other appliances – like freezers and refrigerators – to run efficiently. In very hot temperatures you risk damaging those appliances.
Plus, if it’s hot and humid (a real double whammy) then your air conditioner won’t be helping to keep either in check. Humidity can build up, causing moisture, mildew, or mold. You may return to peeling paint, mold damage, warped cabinets, or just an icky musty odor that will make your welcome home less than pleasant.
You’re better off setting the temperature to hold somewhere around 80 degrees. And if you have a smart wifi thermostat, you can adjust that up or down depending on the weather.
If you’re intent on saving money, unplug anything that doesn’t strictly need to be running. That includes lamps, TVs, computers and other electronics. You may not realize it, but even when those items are turned off, they’re still sucking up electricity and running the meter.
They also generate heat, which can make your air conditioner run more than it needs to. If you’ll be gone for a while – the whole summer, say – consider emptying and unplugging your refrigerator, too. You’ll save on electricity and you won’t be generating all that heat for your air conditioner to have to deal with.
Pull The Blinds
You don’t need anyone peeking into an empty house and scoping our your valuables while you’re away, nor do you need all the heat that the sun will generate. Lock windows, close blinds and curtains, and keep your home substantially cooler during the day. That will have the net effect of making your air conditioner work less, even on those very hot days.
Change Your Filters
Dirty filters are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to inefficient cooling. While we encourage you to change filters regularly – anywhere from every 1-3 months depending on your lifestyle, allergies and other conditions – go the extra mile and swap them out before you leave.
In fact, you may want to schedule your regular maintenance before spring break if you’re planning to be away. That way you can leave knowing everything is clean, safe, efficient and in top shape.
If you close vents to keep some rooms cooler than others, that’s a good habit to break! Closing vents can actually put more strain on your air conditioner and make it work harder, eventually leading to breakdowns and damage. If any of yours are closed, open them all before you leave. Let your air conditioner maintain your home’s temperature naturally.
And if you do have trouble cooling a particular area, that isn’t a problem with your vents. It could be an issue with the size of your unit, or its overall efficiency. Or it could just be a function of the characteristics of a room – like one over a garage, or one that gets a lot of afternoon sun. If you find yourself closing vents in other areas of the house so you don’t freeze to death while you try to cool problem areas, consider ductless cooling instead. It’ll be better for your comfort and a whole lot better for the long-term health of your HVAC system – and ultimately for your wallet.
Consider A Smart Thermostat
Lots of people have at least a programmable thermostat, but if you really want to maximize the efficiency of your HVAC while you’re away – and keep an eye on things just in case – then consider having a smart thermostat installed.
With a smart thermostat you don’t have to worry about whether you’ve left the temperature too high or too low. You don’t have to be tied to a set schedule, and you don’t even have to remember to set the thermostat at all. As long as you have a smart phone and an internet connection, you can check on the temperature in your home, even check the temperature and weather outside your home, and adjust on the fly.
Plus, you can adjust the temperature before you arrive home so that it will be comfortable from the second you open the door. Some units will even recognize when you’re nearby and adjust the temperature to your favorite settings for you.
Taking these simple steps can help save you money, keep your air conditioner working at maximum efficiency and even protect your home from damage while you’re on vacation this spring and summer. If you have questions about installing a new thermostat, maintaining your system, or even replacing an old and ailing one, let us know. We’ll visit your home for a free consultation and estimate. We care about your comfort!