Get Your Home HVAC System Ready for Upcoming Indiana Winter
Although summer has lingered around the Indianapolis-Franklin area of Indiana, it’s now time to prepare your home HVAC system for winter. You’ll want to get it ready this year — gone are 70-degree Februaries without snow. NOAA, the Farmers Almanac, and the Old Farmers Almanac predict a colder and wetter winter than last year in Indiana, albeit still a fairly mild one. To help you prepare for cooler temperatures and save on energy costs, we’ve put together a list of six ways to prepare your HVAC system for the 2017-18 Indiana winter.
Change Your Furnace Filters
According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks. The agency recommends ventilating the home with clean, outdoor air. But doing so depends on outdoor air pollution (of which the Indianapolis-Louisville corridor has ranked the 10th worst in the country) and the weather.
As fall turns to winter, opportunities to allow fresh air to flow through your house or building diminish. Central Indiana isn’t Southern California, after all. And thus, when you turn on your furnace or heat pump, your HVAC system will begin circulating indoor air.
That air passes — or should pass through — a filter. Furnace filters remove unwanted particles and pollutants that contaminate the air you breathe. However, if the filter is neglected, air can’t pass through it as easily, and the filter won’t remove pollutants as well or at all. Dirty filters ultimately put stress on the HVAC system in your home or building, so they’re worth changing.
Change your furnace filters once a month. Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget — unlike that next Indiana University, Notre Dame, or Purdue football game you’ve been waiting to watch all week.
If you’re concerned about air quality, consider upgrading to a genuine HEPA filter. HEPA filters remove virtually all airborne pollutants, even viruses. Air filtration systems are available from local HVAC specialists and integrate with home or business HVAC systems.
Winterize Your Air Conditioner
While this past summer has been unusually mild, there have been a few days we’ve run the air conditioning. Now that summer is over, it’s time to get your air conditioner ready for winter.
To prepare it for the cold and save wasted energy costs, complete the following steps:
- Clean up around the air conditioner unit.
- Insulate the pipes.
- Remove any window air conditioner units so you don’t invite drafts.
- Hose off the AC unit.
- Check for cracks and damage in the unit. If you find anything that needs service, call a local HVAC technician to take a look and repair it as needed.
- After the air conditioner has dried, make sure there’s at least 12” of exposed coil to let air circulate, which will keep moisture from collecting inside the unit. You can place plywood over the top of the AC unit to protect it from ice and snow.
- During winter, remove ice, snow, and debris that collect on the air conditioner.
Inspect and Tune-Up Your HVAC System
Keeping your furnace tuned up can save you up to 5 percent in energy costs per year. What’s more, getting your furnace inspected will enable a qualified HVAC specialist to point out and repair anything that might soon stop working or otherwise need replaced, like bad electrical wiring.
Tune ups include lubricating and cleaning the motor and fan. They also typically include:
- checking for carbon monoxide,
- cleaning or replacing air filters,
- checking blower operation, and
- inspecting gas piping.
Many HVAC companies in central Indiana also offer energy-savings plans, which often cost the same as standalone inspections. A savings plan usually includes one or two tune-ups and a discount on all other parts and labor through the duration of the plan.
Patriot Heating and Air’s energy-savings plan, for instance, includes two tune-ups a year (one for the furnace, one for the air conditioner) and 10 percent off the cost of all parts and labor while the plan is in effect. The plan costs only $12.50 a month, so if you’re planning to upgrade your HVAC system or otherwise require work on your HVAC system, it’s especially a worthwhile investment.
On average, 10 to 30 percent of a home’s heated or cooled air escapes through HVAC system ductwork. As ducts age, seals may crack, and damage from moisture or accidents can damage the system, allowing air to escape. Over time, this can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars in heating costs wasted.
It could therefore pay to have a professional HVAC technician inspect your ductwork and fix and problems. Don’t let 30 percent of your heat escape into your attic. Make sure it’s getting where it belongs.
Install a New Furnace
A furnace is an essential part of your home HVAC system during winter. Upgrading to a new ENERGY STAR-rated furnace will provide you a bundle of energy savings in the long run. New ENERGY STAR furnaces will save you between 15 and 20 percent in energy costs as opposed to other new models. And compared to old models, the energy saving can add up to as much as 50 percent.
If you’re concerned about the up-front costs to install a new furnace, there’s good news. Between an energy savings plan and state incentives, you can save upwards of thousands of dollars on the installation costs.
Heat pumps are another energy-efficient way to save costs on heating your house this winter. Locally, Johnson County REMC, in Johnson County, Indiana, is offering a rebate program for heat pumps through 2017.
Take Advantage of Incentives
As mentioned, there are a number of financial incentives you should take advantage of to make your home HVAC system more energy efficient and prepare it for winter.
Incentives for Indiana, Indianapolis area, and Johnson County area include:
- Wabash Valley Power Association Residential Energy Efficiency Program
- Johnson County REMC – Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
- Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Duke Energy Smart Saver Program
- Indianapolis Power & Light – Residential Energy Incentives Program
- Indianapolis Power & Light – Business Energy Incentives Program
If you’re interested in how a HVAC specialist can help make your home energy efficient and ready for winter, contact us with your questions. Patriot Heating and Air Conditioning, located in Franklin, Indiana, and serving all of Johnson County, offers a wide variety of services and is available 24/7 for emergency repair.