Even for folks that live as far north as Calgary, air conditioning can be extremely important. Most scientists agree that the earth is getting hotter with each successive year. More and more research supports the idea that the increasing temperatures are only going to get worse, and that mild summers are a thing of the past.
Your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system is responsible for keeping the temperature in your home at the same level, regardless of the environment outside. In order to understand how to improve your HVAC system, it helps to know a little about how they work.
All HVAC systems run on the same basic principles. They function by circulating air between the inside and outside environments, both filtering and heating or cooling it in the process. The control, or thermostat, monitors the environment’s temperature, and regulates when the heater or air conditioner turns on and off.
Effectiveness and Efficiency
The effectiveness of an HVAC system refers to how well the system functions. This category tends to revolve around the comfort level provided by the system. Effective systems are capable of providing a high level of comfort in all parts of the space, while less effective systems have a hard time getting the entire space to the desired temperature.
The efficiency of an HVAC system refers to how much energy the system uses to do its job. Highly efficient systems are able to heat and cool a space using small amounts of energy. There are many factors that affect the efficiency of an HVAC system, including the type of insulation used in the space, the type of AC unit and heater, the size of the space, and the type, number, and placement of control units (thermostats) and sensors.
Increasing Efficiency without Sacrificing Effectiveness
Once you understand how HVAC systems work, you can better prepare your home and your equipment for the coming winter. Here are just three steps you can take to improve the efficiency and overall effectiveness of your HVAC system this season.
1. Add Insulation
One easy way to increase the efficiency of your system is to improve your home’s insulation. Putting plastic on your windows in the winter time, adding more insulation in your walls, and keeping your doors and windows shut throughout the day are all great solutions. This can also increase the comfort level provided by the system by eliminating the draftier areas in your house.
2. Upgrade to a Multi-Sensor Thermostat
Another great way to increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of your HVAC system is to upgrade your thermostat to a multi-sensor system. High-end thermostats and HVAC systems are capable of monitoring multiple sensors in your home, and controlling air flow to these locations. Instead of turning the heat on for the entire house when one room is cold, these systems only heat the areas that need it.
3. Close Off Air-Vents
A cheap and easy way to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your HVAC system is to shut the air vents in the rooms that you are not using. Almost all air vents come with an on/off valve. Turning off the air flow to certain parts of your house reduces the total volume of air that your HVAC unit has to handle. Make sure that you are shutting the doors to those rooms as well. If not, shutting the valves will have the opposite effect, and your HVAC system will have to work harder to heat those spaces.
If the steps listed above do not improve your HVAC system’s effectiveness or efficiency, you may have to take more drastic measures. You might want to consider making some significant upgrades to your equipment. It is important to consult with experts when evaluating which parts of your system to modify. There are lots of things that contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of an HVAC system. An expert will be able to tell you which parts are working fine, which ones need modifications, and what your options are moving forward.
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Michael David is a freelance journalist and blogger living in New York City. When he isn’t tinkering around the apartment, Michael loves writing about DIY projects and home improvement tips for Just in Time Furnace.