The improvement or repair likely to give you the most bang for your buck in improving HVAC efficiency is to seal your windows and doors. In most cases, this involves installing weather stripping (there are weather stripping kits available at home improvement stores,) and caulking around the exterior trim. If your windows are failing–signs of this include visible wood rot or glass panes that are loose in the frame–you might need to install replacement sashes or replacement windows.
HVAC Maintenance: Check the Source
For the most part, checking and repairing duct work is best left to professionals, but there is one area you can check and, if necessary, repair yourself, and that’s where your furnace connects to the main air duct. Begin by turning the heat up. Next check the seams around this connection. If you can feel any air escaping, then heat is being wasted. Turn the system off, and use foil HVAC tape to seal any leaks. For extra efficiency, also consider wrapping the main air duct in insulation.
Improve Heating Efficiency: Check Attic Insulation and Ventilation
Heat rises, so if your attic is inadequately insulated, all of your warm air will get sucked out during the winter, taxing both your HVAC system and your budget. In summer, this means there can be intense heat buildup in the attic, with temperatures that can exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Without proper insulation, this heat conducts through ceilings and walls, making it more difficult to cool your home. If your attic stays very hot through the night (check it just before sunrise) during the summer, this indicates poor attic ventilation, which can also increase heating costs. A roofing contractor can evaluate your existing attic ventilation and recommend improvements if needed.
Modern HVAC systems are generally capable of heating and cooling your home no matter what the conditions. But to do so efficiently, they need a little help and common sense.
About the Author: Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist who writes for ReliableRemodeler.com, a nationwide contractor matching service working to bring together homeowners and local contractors for free estimates on home improvement projects. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company.
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