8 Tips for Running Your Heating & Cooling Systems Efficiently

HVAC TipsDid you know that, according to the American Lung Association, the average American breathes 3,400 gallons of air each day? That means that your heating and cooling system has a big job to do, each and every day.

We spend a great deal of time in our homes and Filtrete, a company I have used for years, wants to help–which is why I’ve partnered with them in this series of Healthy Home articles. (See 6 Steps to Cleaner Indoor Air & Naturally Deodorize Your Home)

Check out the tips below to help keep your systems performing properly and running efficiently — helping to make a healthier home for your family, and consuming less energy in the process.

1) Air Filter

Change your air filters regularly (At least every three months, or when your filter looks dirty). Your heating and cooling system moves some serious air flow. Help it run easier by keeping the filter changed so that your system isn’t working harder than it needs to by trying to force air through a clogged filter! We love the Micro Allergen Reduction Filter from Filtrete.

Thermostat2) Watch Your Thermostat

According to Energy.gov, you can lower your heating bill substantially by setting your thermostat to 68°F during wakeful hours, and setting it back a few degrees while you’re asleep – or while you’re away at work. In the summer months, you can follow similar rules by setting the A/C to 78°F during the hours that you are home, and higher when you are away for any measurable time.

A programmable thermostat can make all of this a breeze!

3) Open {or Close} Your Vents

If you have a basement, you may be able to close off vents in the summer months while nature works in your favor – just be sure to open them back up in the winter months. Additionally, keep an eye on vents in kids rooms. Not only can they get covered by toys or blankets, but kids love playing with the levers on vent covers. If this is a problem, you might consider looking for vents without a close option for childrens’ bedrooms and play areas.

4) Put Your Ceiling Fan to Work

Set your fan (with the switch often found on motor housing) counter-clockwise for summer months to help blow cooler air down your way, and clockwise in winter months at a low speed to help circulate air upwards and then throughout the room without blowing on you with a “cooling” effect.

5) Clean Air Return Vents

Air return vents tend to build up with dust and other debris. Be sure to clean these periodically to keep this gunk from bogging down your system and clogging up your filters.

6) Take Advantage of Nature

Take advantage of cool mornings in the summer and warm afternoons in cooler months to welcome fresh air into your home by opening windows and doors where possible.

7) Have Your Systems Serviced

Your HVAC system works hard. Help keep it running at optimal performance by having it service periodically by a professional. Get recommendations from local friends and family, or review websites, to help you locate a technician or service that is reputable and honest.

8) Go HE

If you’re running an older system, you could be throwing money right out the door. Consider having the unit replaced with a higher efficiency model, and see your investment return in no time!

This post has been sponsored by Filtrete. The content of this post is all my own thoughts, opinions and tips. I use Filtrete filters in my own home and was given the opportunity to work with them on a series of healthy home articles and am excited to be doing so! For more information about Filtrete filters, please visit their website and join them on Facebook & Twitter for tips, special savings and discounts.

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  • Great tips! We try to keep our thermostat set as low as possible during the winter. I actually prefer breathing in cool air. To stay warm, we layer up and use rolled up towels at the bottom of doors and windows to block any drafts (we live in an inefficient apartment). I also like your tip for the ceiling fan … it really works!

  • Thanks for the tips! It seems important for home owners to know how to run their HVAC systems efficiently to help them save money on repairs. I liked your tip about keeping an eye on the thermostat. It seems like setting a thermostat to run less heat when you’re not at home and when you’re asleep is a good way to save money on your heating bill.

  • Unfortunately, we live in the basement part of a house shared by upstairs neighbors, and the thermostat in our downstairs home doesn’t work. A lot of the time, the roommates leave the A/C on quite often. I spoke to my landlord, and we decided to set a maximum amount we would pay for utilities since it was out of our control until we get the thermostat fixed. As for the vents, I can definitely clean them and close them during the summer. This is good information for when we own our own house though 🙂 Thank you.

  • I have been noticing my utility bills going up lately, and it is making me wonder if my HVAC system is running efficiently. I really liked your tips about cleaning your filters and watching your thermostat. Both of these seem like really easy ways to make sure that everything is running more smoothly. Thank you for sharing, I will be sure to check these out.

  • I really wish I was in an area where I could take advantage of nature like you say. For me, it is always cold and I’m always running my heater. On occasion, I do get a nicer warm day and I try and take advantage as much as possible! Thanks for posting these great tips on heating and cooling your home.

  • My HVAC unit hasn’t been running as efficiently as it used to, so I’m hoping to find a way to get it to work better. Your tip to have my system serviced probably applies the most to my situation. It’s been a long time since I’ve last had it serviced by a professional. That could help by fixing anything that’s wrong with my unit, so I’ll be sure to hire someone soon. Thanks for the tips!

  • Thank you for the help. This winter I tend to think that I am paying too much for heating usage. Now that you mention it, I cannot remember the last time that I had the system serviced. How often do you recommend having it inspected?

  • For the past few months, I’ve been watching my heating and cooling bill. What I’ve noticed is that my system isn’t working as efficient as it should be. I’ll have to see if you tips help improve it at all. Thanks so much for your help.

  • I’ll never turn down advice when it comes to improving efficiency. I’ve seen how changing air filters regularly can help the system run easier. I didn’t realize the importance of cleaning air return vents though. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  • I think using nature to keep your house warm or cool is the best way to save energy on heating and cooling your house. I always open my windows at night in the summer, and I close the curtains when the sun is shining directly through the windows. It isn’t much, but it does help keep my AC bill down every month. In the winter, I do the opposite and leave my curtains open when the sun is out.

  • Do you have any suggestions for locating a contractor to come and service your HVAC system? That is something that you recommend and it seems like a really great idea. I think that the optimal time to do that would be just after winter so that your air conditioning can be ready for the summer. Our system doesn’t seem to be running as well as it could so we want to see what’s going on.

  • We will soon be moving into our new home and are looking to find ways to save money with the heating bill. Thank you for your tips related to this topic. I find that cleaning the air filters would be an effective way to improve the flow of air through the ducts. Also, it is a great idea to control the temperature in the home by watching the thermostat. Thanks again for this information.

  • I didn’t realize having an older HVAC system would be wasting money. I have noticed that my air and heat bill has been higher than most years. I moved into this house a few years ago and haven’t gotten my units replaced for newer ones. I will definitely look into getting a newer HVAC unit to help save money with a more efficient system. Thanks for all the useful information!

  • Thanks for the ideas. I have been trying to maximize the efficiency of my house. I had not thought about having my heating system serviced as a way to do that. How often should I have someone inspect my system?

  • These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to have your heating and cooling systems serviced by professionals regularly. My husband and I just moved into our first house, and we want to make sure that our HVAC system remains in good condition, but we haven’t had to care for one before. We’re not sure when the last time it was serviced by a professional was, so we’ll definitely look into having someone come soon. Thanks for the great post!

  • I love the feeling of fresh air in my home. I always like to keep my windows open when the weather allows it. That way, I don’t have to run my heater or AC as much. That saves me money and saves the HVAC system from having to work all the time!

  • These are wonderful tips! I am always looking for ways to save on our energy bills and have a clean comfortable home. I didn’t know that the ceiling fan had different rotations that moved air differently. This is definitely going to come in handy the next few months! I also think it isn’t a bad idea to look into a clean air system. It makes all the difference in my home. Thank you for sharing!

  • I like your suggestion to get your heating supply checked bi-annually. I haven’t had mine checked in a while, so I wouldn’t know if it was leaking gas or had broken parts. It would be awful to be caught in winter without a working furnace, so I’ll be getting it checked before it gets cold.

  • If you have the budget to do it try to get a ductless HVAC system, It will be more efficient, eco-friendly and cheaper in time.

  • I do not usually change my air filter every 3 months. I had no idea that is how often I should be changing it! Thank you for letting me know. Hopefully that will help things run smoother. I would not like it to clog in any way.

  • The suggestion of replacing your old system with a newer one is a great idea. So many things today are much more energy efficient. I imagine that it might cost a little more than you’d like, but it would be worth the investment in the long run.

  • My wife and I love finding ways that we can increase our energy efficiency, so I really appreciated your suggestions in your article! I really liked the tip to take advantage of cool mornings in the summer as well as warm afternoons to increase energy efficiency though! I think that’s something my wife and I could get a little bit better at rather than leaving our thermostat on all the time! We’re going to have to give it a try and see if we can find an increase in our energy efficiency!

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