As the seasons change in Charleston, South Carolina, you may notice your monthly energy bills creeping up. Poor efficiency is a common culprit of rising heating and cooling costs, especially when the temperature shifts and your air conditioner or furnace has to work harder. Check out these 4 DIY projects to improve efficiency and keep your bills low.
Plant Some Trees
A properly designed landscape can make a big difference in the cost of heating and cooling your home. Trees and shrubbery can also help improve the air quality by reducing pollution and putting more oxygen into the air. Adding trees to your outdoor space is beneficial no matter where you live, but they’re especially useful in Charleston, where we have a humid subtropical climate.
Surrounding your home with trees and bushes can provide a good windbreak. During the summer months, additional trees surrounding your house can direct cool breezes toward the home while keeping your structure out of direct sunlight. When it’s cool outside, low-angle, winter sunlight can enter your home through the windows to maintain a warm temperature inside. Choose trees that will thrive in the climate to improve the landscaping and reduce energy waste.
Check the Vents
Some homeowners believe that closing the vents to rooms that aren’t in use lowers energy bills, but the opposite can actually be true. Since the rooms contain cold air returns and vents, closing those vents causes pressure to build up in the closed off room. As the system tries to push cooled or warmed air through the vents, that pressure often causes the air to seep through cracks in your ducts. Even if there aren’t any gaps or cracks in the ducts, the air will be forced back to the furnace, so you’re not saving any energy to heat or cool.
You can even cause damage to your furnace by closing the vents in certain rooms. Newer models designed for improved efficiency are calculated based on square footage, so altering that can cause unexpected blockages in the planned heating path. Not only do you run the risk of reducing efficiency when you close the vents, but you could also cause damage to a unit that’s expensive and time-consuming to repair. Check your vents and keep them all open at all times.
Protect the Outdoor Unit
If your air conditioner’s outdoor unit sits in direct sunlight, you might want to think about shading it and protecting it from the elements. Building a small structure to sit over the top of the outdoor unit can help reduce the exposure to the harsh rays, but make sure that the unit can still achieve proper airflow.
If the protection you construct sits too closely to the unit or restricts the flow of air in any way, you could end up causing damage or reducing efficiency further. It’s also smart to sweep out any leaves or yard debris from the unit and keep plants around it trimmed to prevent overgrowth.
As dust and dirt build up in your home, these contaminants can reduce efficiency. When the heating or AC system runs, it pulls air into the system for heating and cooling, then pushes that air back through the vents. The air often contains dirt and debris, which may settle in the ducts and lower the efficiency of your system. Regular duct cleaning by a technician will keep the air flowing smoothly and improve efficiency, which can help save money every month. You may also notice that it’s easier to breathe in your home after the duct cleaning. It’s a win-win.
Doing some light cleaning around the house is also helpful. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall every few months and use a vacuum hose to remove dust and dirt that collects on the coils. Keeping your home vacuumed and dusted will also help improve airflow, while ensuring that the space looks and feels clean and healthy.
If your heating or cooling system is still struggling with efficiency, give our HVAC experts a call at M&B Heating and Air at 843-628-1775<.
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