10 HVAC Tips for Winter Weather in Annapolis
A chilly winter is a given in the Annapolis region. While this might give visions of snow days and cozy moments spent indoors sipping hot cocoa, the reality is that this can be a tough time for your HVAC system right now.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. Taking the time to give your HVAC the TLC it deserves means that it will run more efficiently. Likewise, emergency repairs are less likely to occur. If you want to avoid the unexpected expense of a late night repair in the middle of a winter storm, here are a few HVAC tips for winter weather in Annapolis.
1. Check Registers and Vents for Blockages
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any obstructions in your HVAC’s vents. However, everything from unwanted pests to random debris lodged against exterior vents can cause problems. Ideally, before the winter season approaches, you should contact Werrlein Services to have them perform routine HVAC maintenance before the bad weather sets in. This includes cleaning your HVAC ducts and exterior vents to ensure that there aren’t any obstructions.
But another HVAC tip for winter weather in Annapolis is to do your part by checking interior vents for blockages. While this is less likely to be an issue for ceiling vents, if your home has floor or lower wall vents, ensure that rugs, carpeting, or even furniture aren’t reducing full air flow.
Replace That Air Filter
Just like with an air purifier or the air filter in your car, your HVAC’s system also needs to have the filter routinely replaced. Old filters aren’t efficient at removing impurities, and that translates to terrible indoor air quality — which is a rampant problem no matter the region.
A good filter, especially one that incorporates True HEPA, can effectively remove over 99% of common contaminants such as pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and dust. Especially if anyone in your home suffers from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions, don’t skip this important HVAC tip for winter weather in Annapolis.
Ensure Thermostats Run Efficiently
Your HVAC can only run as effectively as the thermostat is able to control it. This means that if your thermostat has a faulty sensor, it may read that the temperature is warmer or colder than the rest of the house. This translates to not being warm enough or needlessly paying for wasted energy.
Avoid this problem by having your thermostat checked to ensure it’s running efficiently. This includes having the sensor checked, replacing batteries as needed, or even optimizing functionality by setting the temperature properly. This can be 70 degrees when people are home, and lower when the house is empty.
Alternatively, if your HVAC system supports it, switching to zone controls can also ensure that you’re not wasting energy keeping areas of the home warmer when no one is in those spaces.
Perform an Energy Audit
One of the best HVAC tips for winter weather in Annapolis and smart ways to avoid overpaying for unnecessary energy usage is through a home energy audit. Along with checking for things like outdated thermostats or faulty HVAC components, this can also include checking for drafts. Common culprits include poorly sealed windows and doors.
Ideally, this should be performed before the winter months so that you’re not attempting to fix a problem when you need to run your HVAC system the most. This is because in milder months like in the spring or early autumn, you can opt for more efficient long-term solutions like replacing old windows or completely fixing and replacing cracked window sills.
If you wait until the winter, you might have to rely on temporary solutions like adding caulking to gaps around your windows or using under-the-door sleeves to block drafts. Thankfully, the experienced HVAC specialists at Werrlein Services can help you perform an audit.
Have Your HVAC Checked for Damage or Problems
Even if you regularly perform HVAC maintenance, that doesn’t mean that issues can’t arise. Specifically, weird noises or odd smells can be a sign that your system needs to be cleaned or might have a breakdown that needs to be repaired.
They usually mean that your furnace isn’t working efficiently. This can either foreshadow a more expensive and untimely breakdown, or simply that your furnace is dirty. Sometimes, simply replacing the air filter might be enough to fix the problem. But if you still can’t figure out the cause, it’s time to call in the professionals.
Check the Insulation
Similar to performing an energy audit, poor insulation is another common cause for high energy bills and an HVAC system that runs inefficiently. While checking for obvious air leaks around windows and doors is one way to control energy usage, confirming that there’s sufficient insulation in the walls or especially in the attic is critical.
Without sufficient insulation, warm air escapes either out of the home or upwards into the attic — an area that typically doesn’t house occupants. This means you need to run your HVAC longer or harder to effectively heat the home. Once you properly insulate your home, you can run your HVAC more efficiently, and save money.
Keep the Chimney Clean and Close the Damper
If you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, this is for you. Not everyone uses their fireplace during the cooler months. If this sounds familiar, close the damper to prevent hot air from escaping through the chimney.
Similarly, be sure to have your chimney properly cleaned. This is a matter of health and safety as a dirty chimney can encourage the release of carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals when you light a fire.
Don’t Skip Routine HVAC Maintenance Appointments
Preventative maintenance will always be cheaper and more efficient than waiting until your HVAC system breaks down in the middle of the winter during a cold snap. Ideally, you should book an appointment to have your HVAC inspected and cleaned during the early fall months when you’re less likely to need to run it. Proper maintenance extends the lifespan of your HVAC system, and can minimize the chances of costly repairs when you need heating the most.
Don’t Forget the A/C Condenser
From unwanted pests to frigid weather, your HVAC’s condenser shouldn’t be neglected just because you’re not using it during the winter. Protect your investment by covering it during the months when it’s not in use. This will ensure that unexpected guests don’t set up shop there.
Likewise, ice, freezing rain, or even extreme winds that blow debris, can all cause damage which translates to an air conditioner that doesn’t work when the mercury starts rising. Avoid this by investing in a properly fitting cover. Alternatively, you can create a shelter that prevents snow, ice, or even excessive rain from coming into direct contact with your condenser.
Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Furnace
Routine maintenance can only do so much to prolong the life of your HVAC’s components. Eventually, sustained use and aging materials will either result in increased breakdowns or higher energy bills. In short, whether you want to or not, you’ll be forced to replace your furnace. Rather than having a breakdown cause you to go hunting for a new furnace, plan ahead.
For a well maintained furnace, the average lifespan is 15 years before you need to replace it. When you know your furnace is reaching the end of its lifespan, talk with an HVAC specialist to determine the best replacement that not only meets your budget, but can meet your home’s heating needs.
Plan Ahead for the Winter
In a perfect world, your HVAC system would operate smoothly and never need routine maintenance. But this is an unrealistic dream. One of the realities of being a homeowner is that — just like you have routine physicals to keep on top of your health — you need to preserve the various systems that keep your home functioning by relying on routine maintenance. This includes your home’s HVAC system.
Many of the tips listed above are easy fixes that can be managed by scheduling an annual HVAC maintenance appointment for your furance. And if you’re unsure of your home’s energy efficiency, don’t hesitate to request a home energy audit to identify areas that might need repairs. Your wallet will thank you as you spend less on energy costs in the future.