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Getting the Most out of your HVAC System

The average U.S. household spends about $1,300 each year on utility bills. While there are a number of factors that affect energy consumption - efficiency of major appliances, thermostat settings, etc. - it is possible to make a home more energy efficient, creating the potential for big savings on future bills.

Simply by choosing ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and making energy-saving improvements to your home, you could save as much as 30 percent on your energy bills.

Here are some basic tips:

  • Have your heating/cooling (HVAC) system maintained by a professional.
  • Between service visits, follow the manufacturer's routine maintenance directions
  • If you are purchasing a new HVAC system, look for the ENERGY STAR label to get the highest efficiency available in the market
  • Check the filters in your HVAC unit. If they're the permanent kind, they should be cleaned with mild detergent every 30 to 60 days. Replaceable filters should be replaced just as often
  • If the HVAC system is running, keep the windows and doors closed
  • Caulk and weatherstrip to close air gaps
  • During cooling season, don't wash/dry clothes during the warmest times of day (late morning and afternoon).

One of the reasons why a new system may be a good long-term investment is that technological improvements, combined with governmental regulations, have led to more energy-efficient appliances. Even the least efficient systems currently available in the U.S. will generally cost less to operate than a system that was installed 10 years ago.

Most manufacturers offer higher-efficiency models which will save you even more in utility bills. However, these systems generally cost more initially, so it's a good idea to look for the right balance between first cost and longterm savings.