5 Tips Every First-Time Homeowner Needs to Know About Heating & Cooling Their Homes
Congratulations on purchasing your first home! Being a new homeowner is an exciting venture that involves learning about the quirks around your property. Between unpacking, housewarming parties and exploring your neighborhood, it can be simple to overlook one of your home’s most important features—the HVAC system. Even though it seemed to run well when you purchased the home, it requires routine maintenance. By taking care of your heating and cooling system from the start, you’ll ensure that it runs efficiently and reliably, and gain a better idea regarding potential future costs.
1. Know the Details
Not all HVAC systems are the same as there are many types of equipment that heat and cool homes. For example, an HVAC system may have an air conditioner and gas furnace, or a heat pump and an electric furnace. If a home uses a boiler for heat, it might run on propane, oil, natural gas or a different type of fuel. If your realtor didn’t provide you with information regarding the type of heating and cooling systems in your home, now is the perfect time to learn more about it. In addition to knowing about the types of equipment used, it is also a good idea to know about their energy sources and any add-on systems, such as zoning systems, air purifiers and dehumidifiers.
Learn about the system’s age to get an idea about when it will need a replacement. In general, heat pumps and central air conditioners last between 10 and 15 years. Boilers and gas furnaces last between 15 and 20 years. It is also good to know the efficiency ratings of the systems, which are labeled as Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) for furnaces and boilers, and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEER) for heat pumps and air conditioners. A heat pump might also have a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) energy rating.
Homeowners who maintain their homes well complete annual HVAC maintenance and inspections to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Ask the previous homeowner for copies of past inspection reports to learn about problems that you might encounter in the future. These reports are also good to keep on hand if you need to take advantage of a system’s warranty.
2. Replace the Filters
Don’t assume that the previous homeowners replaced the filters in the heating and cooling units before they handed you the keys. Even if your home is brand new, contractors might have used the HVAC system to create an environment that’s ideal for drying paint, drywall, adhesives and other materials. When you move in, replace the HVAC filter to ensure the system works efficiently and circulates clean air throughout your home.
Once you locate where the filters are, changing them is as simple as pulling out the old ones and sliding in the new ones. Before inserting the new ones, write the date on one end for future reference. It is a good idea to replace the filter bi-monthly.
Depending on your home’s age, it might be a good idea to schedule a professional duct cleaning and inspection to maximize your HVAC system’s efficiency and improve the air quality in your home. If more than five years passed since the previous homeowners completed this maintenance task, or if you are not sure if this service was ever performed, now is a good time schedule a duct inspection and cleaning. Otherwise, the HVAC system may have to work harder to keep your home comfortable, which could shorten its life.
3. Schedule a Professional Maintenance and Inspection
Waiting until the HVAC system has a problem to call a professional could backfire on you because you might find yourself without heat on the coldest winter day. If your home is not brand new, hire an HVAC professional to inspect and maintain the system as soon as possible. The specialist will alert you to small problems that could become expensive repairs if they aren’t addressed, tell you more information about the system (e.g., the type and age), and give you maintenance tips that you can do on your own throughout the year to keep the unit running more efficiently. Schedule professional HVAC maintenance and inspection every year to prolong the life of your heating and cooling units and prevent the need for major repairs.
4. Know Details about the Warranty
Learn about the warranty that came with the heating and cooling systems in your new home. Details to pay attention to include the period of coverage and the types of repairs the warranty covers. Keep in mind that if the previous homeowners failed to hire a licensed professional to complete annual maintenance on newer HVAC equipment or failed to hire a professional to perform certain repairs, they may have accidentally voided the warranty.
If the warranty is still active, be mindful of activities that could accidentally void it, such as:
- Not hiring a licensed professional to complete annual maintenance and inspection services
- DIY repairs
- Not using approved replacement parts
5. Learn to Use the Thermostat to Maximize Efficiency
A programmable thermostat helps ensure your system operates efficiently throughout the year. Take advantage of its various settings to keep your home comfortable when it’s occupied and to save energy while you’re asleep or on vacation. An HVAC specialist can show you how to program and operate the thermostat, as well as make recommendations regarding the best temperatures settings.
Owning a home for the first time comes with as many thrills as it does challenges. Make caring for your HVAC system simpler, protect your investment and keep your energy bills lower by scheduling an inspection and tune-up with a specialist from AAA Heating and Cooling today. We look forward to serving your comfort needs.