Maintaining Furnaces and Air Conditioners Efficiently and Greenly

Regular maintenance of furnaces and air conditioners helps keep them working at top efficiency, which reduces your energy use, and the less energy you use, the more eco-friendly you are. Use these tips to get the most from your furnaces and air conditioners for the least possible cost:

  • Replace filters. The most effective and easiest maintenance task is changing filters. Dirty filters restrict effective air flow through the appliance, which makes the motor work harder, which in turn burns more fuel. Replace filters monthly, particularly if you have pets, live in a dusty area, or are renovating.

  • Have the units professionally cleaned and serviced annually. Regular service protects against dust buildup that can damage sensitive parts and shorten the appliance’s lifespan.

  • Check ductwork for leaks. If your system runs on forced air and you can easily see or access at least some of the ductwork, run your hand, a sheet of thin paper, or even the smoke from an incense stick beside the ducts while the fan is on. Look and feel for air leaks around joints and seams. Seal seams with heat-resistant tape (not your everyday duct tape, despite the name).

  • Have the ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years. Cleaning helps reduce the dust blown through your home, which helps to keep the furnace filter clean, in turn helping the furnace to operate more efficiently. Between duct cleanings, vacuum forced-air registers occasionally to keep them clean.

  • Keep forced-air registers, radiators, and other vents unobstructed. Make sure that vents — including cold-air returns — aren’t blocked by furniture, curtains, or rugs. Clearing the way helps to ensure good air circulation, which improves system efficiency and room comfort as well as helps to prevent mold and mildew growth.

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