What's your HVAC IQ?

No...you don't have to take a test! But, as we are in the thick (seriously THICK) of the hot, humid, RVA summer, it's time for your HVAC system to shine. (Or cause untold amounts of profanity to ricochet around your house...or so I've been told...) 

When we're home shopping, that's one of the most important things I like to make note of. How old is the system? Is it still under warranty? Is it working well? If not, making sure my buyers either get a home warranty, or are prepared for possible (big) expenses down the road, sooner or later. 

As I type this, I'm pretty cool. (Well, I'm always cool- ask my teenage son. Actually don't. But I digress.) But for the last day, and for the second time this summer, my HVAC was dead out. Off. Caput. No action. Not cool. So not cool. Who has time for this?? 

Aside from those things that we already do and know, here are some tips on making sure you don't end up drenched in sweat at the most inopportune time. Not foolproof, because, you know- life happens, but maintenance is a huge help with efficiency and life expectancy of these systems!

  1. Change the filter regularly. Seriously. This is one of the biggest things to ensure your system is working well, keeping clean air flowing, and continuing to operate well as long as it can. There are some great companies online that have filters at a terrific price, and they'll auto ship to you so you always have one handy (in the right size, even!). Mark it on your calendar and just do it!
  2. Keep the area around both your interior and exterior units clear. Keep the clutter away, whether it's in a closet, garage, or outside. This will also help get air to and from the system and keep it working smoothly. 
  3. Add a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats allow you to program the temperature settings in your home so you can set it to be warmer during periods when you’re away and more comfortable when you're home. The system will also communicate with you and provide ways of saving even more energy and lowering your monthly bill. Follow its recommendations and you'll get new tips that can help you save even more. And maybe it will play you some Christmas music if you ask it to...  When you’re away from home or at night when sleeping, allowing the temperature to fall (in the winter) or rise (in the summer) by 10 degrees for 8 hours or more can save 5%-15% on heating and cooling costs. *With a heat-pump, however, only use this tip during the summer, as the heat pump’s heating cycle is more efficient when left at a steady temperature.
  4. Have your system serviced by a licensed technician once a year. No, really. Do this. Just get on their schedule, and they'll usually remind you. That's one way to at least head off the notion that you're going to find yourself too hot at 2 am in August, or freezing your fanny off at 7 am on a Sunday morning in February. Plus, bonus! You'll have a relationship with them, so they're more likely to be Johnny on the spot when/ if you do have a problem!
  5. From an efficiency standpoint alone, you can save lots and lots of money on power bills by ensuring the "envelope" of your home is efficient. Do your windows close well? Are they insulated/ double paned glass? Do you have storm windows? How about your doors? Can you see light around the door? A few dollars worth of weatherstripping can make a big difference here, and it's too easy to do to skip this step. As I write this, I realize this really is another whole post, but it's a good start. 
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Keep in mind, I'm not an HVAC tech, nor do I play one on tv. I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. BUT, if you find yourself cooking in your house, and don't know who to call- reach out. I have some GREAT resources that can help! 

Stay cool friends!