We do many things without realizing it. Some are harmless, like chewing with our mouth open, while other habits can be more harmful. Many homeowners in St. Louis, Missouri, have learned the hard way that unintentional neglect and bad habits can harm their HVAC systems. By not knowing what strains your system, you may be reducing its energy efficiency and increasing your utility costs. Here are four ways you may be unknowingly harming your HVAC system:

Heating and Cooling Inefficiently

Just like you’re more likely to harm your body through continually bad habits, rather than falling and breaking a bone, the greatest harm to your HVAC system comes when you mistreat it on a daily basis. When you push your system too hard, you burden it with unnecessary strain. As a result, it decreases energy efficiency, leads to broken or worn components, and reduces the overall lifespan of the system.

The closer your thermostat setting is to the temperature outside, the more efficient your system can operate. So the further away your thermostat setting is from the outside temperature, the more strain you’re placing on it. Don’t freeze yourself out or bake in your own home. But don’t force your system to keep your home at 50 degrees in the summer or 75 in the winter. Instead, find a happy medium.

Using a Poorly Sized System

When it comes to HVAC systems, size matters, at least in relation to your home. A properly sized HVAC system has just the right amount of power to efficiently heat and cool the entire home. When you install such a system, service technicians have taken into account the size of the home and the shape of its rooms.

A system that’s too large will constantly short-cycle, causing inefficiency and potential damage. A system that’s too small will strain to reach the thermostat threshold. To ensure that you’re not damaging your system by running a poorly sized unit, ask your HVAC service technician to check its size during your next maintenance appointment.

Avoiding Preventive Maintenance

Maybe you can avoid getting a physical for a year and still feel fine. But your HVAC system isn’t the same. It can’t force itself to eat better and exercise more. Your unit needs preventive maintenance at least twice a year, and some DIY maintenance on a monthly basis. Without regular maintenance, the small and seemingly inconsequential issues that creep up in your system can become expensive problems.

At least twice a year, preferably once in the spring and once in the fall, schedule professional HVAC maintenance. During a maintenance appointment, your service technician will check the components in the system, conduct necessary repairs and clean it.

To do your part, change the air filter once a month. Also, keep the area clean around the indoor and outdoor parts of your system.

Closing Vents

The idea that closing vents to preserve energy efficiency is a dangerous urban myth. Even if you close your vents, you don’t stop air from flowing through. You just restrict it from flowing freely. That restriction causes pressure to build in the ductwork, which can lead to leaks and decreased efficiency. By cutting off airflow to certain rooms, you can also cause humidity issues in those corners of your living space.

Don’t be afraid to leave your vents open, even if you rarely use a certain room. Look for other ways to cut your energy costs. Or if you really want to stop wasting air in those rooms, switch over to a ductless heat pump.

Ignorance isn’t bliss when it’s causing harm to your HVAC system, which in turn can harm your health, comfort and wallet. Care for your HVAC system, and it’ll take care of you. To get the professional care your HVAC system needs, call Averill Heating & Air Conditioning at 314-328-0437.

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