An HVAC system consumes a large portion of energy in your home, making it a significant investment that should be considered carefully. It also plays a critical role in air quality, temperature regulation, and the level of comfort you experience on a daily basis.
With so much on the line, you’d think that each HVAC decision would be carefully weighed up before making a commitment. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Here are the common HVAC mistakes and how to avoid them:
Choosing an HVAC system that’s the wrong size
A common HVAC mistake is installing a system without first consulting a professional about the sizing.
A unit that is too small for your home won’t be able to regulate temperature or filter and circulate air optimally. An oversized unit, on the other hand, will cycle on and off repeatedly in an effort to regulate the interior environment. This will result in higher costs, energy inefficiency, and faster wear and tear.
Choosing the wrong MERV rating
Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) measures how efficient your air filter is at removing airborne pollutants and contaminants. The higher the rating is, the better the filter is at removing pollutants to improve overall air quality. With that said, a filter with the highest MERV rating is not necessarily the right fit for your home. This is because they are typically thicker and more restrictive, meaning that HVAC units have to use more energy to circulate air and regulate temperature.
For your home, filters with a MERV rating of 5–8 should be suitable for healthy air quality and getting rid of common pollutants and contaminants. If you or someone in your household suffers from allergies or other respiratory issues, we’d recommend using a filter with a MERV rating of between 9 and 12.
Contrary to popular belief, turning your thermostat higher or lower does not warm or cool your home more quickly. Your HVAC unit and system will still circulate the same amount of air throughout your home, regardless of the thermostat’s setting. Regular temperature fluctuations are actually detrimental to your unit in the long-run, as it forces the system to work harder, for longer, which consumes more energy and elevates costs.
For summer, we recommend setting your thermostat to 78°F when you are home. When it gets colder, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends changing your thermostat to 68°F when you’re home, and lowering it when you’re asleep or away to save on energy costs.
Shutting off your air conditioning system completely
Following on from the last point — it’s a huge mistake to shut off your air conditioning system when you leave home for an extended period of time. This is because the HVAC system will have to work overtime to regulate temperature when you get back.
Say your regular temperature is 70 degrees. If you leave for a week you should put it up to 80–85 degrees. If you shut it off and return, however, the temperature will be 90–95 degrees and it will take several hours to get it back to 70. If you leave the system on 80 degrees, it will work 10–20 minutes a day to keep it there, so over the week you are away the system is only working for roughly one hour in total.
To get it to 70 degrees will only take one hour, which takes less time and uses less heat overall.
Disguising units or installing them in restrictive locations
We understand wanting to cover your outside unit so that it blends in with your home’s exterior. But ‘disguises’ such as walls or foliage can damage your unit and restrict its ability to push the optimum amount of air into your home.
For a compressor unit to function optimally, it needs to be installed in a shaded area with ambient temperature. The good news is that most units these days are built to withstand harsh weather, so you don’t need to drape them to protect them. In fact, covering your unit could interfere with its critical inner workings.
For example: Throwing a tarp over an outside HVAC unit could trap rust- and corrosion-causing moisture in the space between the unit and the covering. This trapped moisture could also damage the electrics inside of your HVAC unit.
Our recommendation is to seek advice from your manufacturer, as the weather your unit will be facing will also be a location factor.
Not cleaning or replacing filters
Filters are like the lungs of your HVAC system — they ‘clean’ the air of contaminants and help circulate the air throughout the home. If they are blocked, broken, or just plain dirty, your home’s air quality will suffer and your HVAC system will have to work harder to push air into your rooms.
We recommend changing your air filters every 30 days, as even the thinnest particles of dust can reduce airflow by 50%.
You’re setting your HVAC system up for failure if you don’t get an experienced specialist to install it. A good contractor will put tape on all of the cracks and the windpipes so that no air is able to escape. They will also use long copper radius pipes instead of short radius pipes as the latter are more efficient. An experienced contractor with a demonstrated history of successful jobs will know how to ensure your HVAC system is energy efficient.
Not using adjustable grilles
For supply grilles, you'll want to use adjustable grilles so that your system can spread the air evenly throughout rooms. With adjustable grilles, the HVAC system is able to circulate the air more evenly, with less effort, which saves on costs in the long run.
If you don’t have adjustable grilles, consider installing magnet closures/covers and reflectors to redirect or deflect the air.
Avoid common HVAC mistakes by seeking professional advice
For more than a decade, HVAC Premium has provided over 5,000,000 happy customers with the parts they need for energy-efficient, cost-effective HVAC systems. We have also developed lasting working relationships with our peers and can point you in the right direction for guidance and advice.