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Keep your HVAC system purring like a kitten.

Nothing affects the comfort of your home more than your heating and cooling systems. Yet unless the heater goes on the fritz during a blizzard or the air-conditioning conks out in the middle of a heat wave, most of us pretty much ignore our heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment.

Even the best heating and cooling system can cost you by wasting energy. How much? Depending on how you heat and cool your home and the climate of the area you live in, clogged filters, dirty thermostats, sooty flues, leaky ductwork, and unlubricated fan motors can reduce heating and cooling efficiency by up to 25 percent.

Some of these maintenance jobs are fairly simple, while others require a trained pro. You’ll also need an HVAC contractor if your system is at the end of its useful life. Here are some tips for dealing with your HVAC equipment and the pros that service it.

3 simple things you can do right now:

  • Check the filter on your furnace or central AC. Just like the lint filter in your clothes dryer, filters trap dirt and dust. To learn more about replacing filers read this previous post

  • Buy a new “Smart Thermostat.” Chances are your thermostat is over 10 years old and not connected or easily programmable. Smart thermostats connect to WiFi, can be adjusted from smartphones and are easily programmable so that you don’t needlessly heat or cool your dwelling when not at home. According to a recent study smart thermostats save homeowners 10% to 12% per year on heating and 15% on cooling.

  • Check to make sure your vents are free of build-up. The air in your house must circulate easily through the different vents. Your furnace is more efficient when the air can circulate properly, free of blockage.

For maintenance jobs that require a pro it’s important to find someone you trust. When searching for a company to maintain your system, look for one that designs, installs, and services the type of system you have. Full service companies also tend to be up to date on the latest and greatest technologies in the industry.

Aside from checking for appropriate liability insurance and workers’ compensation, ask for recommendations or check with neighbors, friends, and family who have used the company over several years.

Find out:

  • How well did the system run under the company’s care?

  • Did the technicians leave the working area clean?

  • How quickly did the contractor respond to emergencies?

  • Were the service people responsive, polite, and punctual when you called with a problem?

A quality provider will have an emergency number that’s staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and enough technicians to respond during harsh weather when the calls are most likely to pile up.

Your relationship with your HVAC company is a personal choice and while you want to see as little of them as possible, when you do see them you want the interaction to be as pain-free, cost-free, and frustration-free as possible.

We have compiled a list of pros that we recommend. You can find them here.


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