Common HVAC Myths

As Halloween approaches, we see more and more of the same horrors: ghosts and ghouls roaming the earth, zombies craving brains, and people who don’t know they can leave their AC on when they leave the house! Oh the horror! If the most terrifying thing you can imagine is a ridiculously high energy bill, this post is for you. We’re going to address some of the most common HVAC myths we see.

Myth #1 You should always turn off your HVAC system when you leave the house.

While you may want to turn off your HVAC system when you’re leaving the house for more than 24 hours, it’s not necessary when you’ll be gone for a shorter period of time. In fact, turning your HVAC off and on could be costing you more! HVAC systems work to cool or heat your home to a pre-selected temperature. Your home’s insulation helps to keep the heated or cooled air in your home, and keep outdoor temperatures out. Turning off your HVAC system every time you leave the house, especially in extreme temperatures, makes your system work harder and against your insulation to get your house to the appropriate temperature. A better idea is to adjust your thermostat by 5 to 10 degrees when you leave. If you have a programmable thermostat, this is even easier, because your thermostat will automatically adjust to those temperatures. If you have it set to 88 degrees during the day, for example, you can set it to start lowering as you’re leaving work. Your home will be the perfect temperature when you get home!

Myth #2 Setting your fan to “On” is better than “Auto”.

Your HVAC system comes with those two settings, ‘on’ and ‘auto’, but many aren’t sure of the difference since both keep your house cool. “On” is exactly what it sounds like; even after your home has reached your ideal temperature, the fan stays on, circulating that air around your home. It sounds good, but keeping your system switched “on” is a great way to run up your energy bill and wear out your system faster. We recommend keeping your unit set to “auto” in many cases, which will run the fan to circulate air until it reaches the designated temperature. The fan will then run periodically to maintain that temperature.

If you’re wondering what the “on” setting is good for now, don’t worry! It does have some specific case uses. If you need to drastically change the temperature of your home, “on” can help move the air faster, to make you more comfortable. It can also be good for allergy sufferers, since it will circulate the air more regularly, moving allergens into your HEPA filters. Finally, it’s also great when vacuuming. Since vacuuming kicks up a lot of dust, using this setting while cleaning will help that dust move into the filter- instead of settling back onto your floor!

Myth #3 Closing air vents will save you money.

This is something we see a lot of. If you close off vents to a room in your home, you won’t be heating or cooling that room, so you’ll save money, right? Actually closing off air vents can cost you more money. When you close off vents, you’re preventing air from escaping the vents, which build up pressure on those closed vents. The air pressure and subsequent attempts to recirculate that air actually make your system work harder to cool your home. Keep your vents open!

Myth #4 Having a service subscription is a waste of money.

This is absolutely not true! Just imagining the inconvenience, frustration, and repair costs when your system goes out unexpectedly (and it always goes out when you need it most!) should be enough to convince you otherwise. The cost of most service agreements are marginal when compared to the costs of having to replace your unit when it goes out. Most issues that call for the entire unit to be replaced can be avoided with regularly scheduled maintenance to your HVAC unit.

Maximizing your HVAC unit’s efficiency while saving money

If there were a magic thermostat, keeping your house comfortable and your energy bill low would be easy. This thermostat would know to anticipate your every move, knowing when you come and go, tracking outdoor humidity levels and watching the calendar to adjust by one degree with every half rotation of the Earth. Without that, most of us just rely on common sense. When it’s hot outside, indoor should be cool. When it’s cold, making your home warmer is essential.

While the magical thermostat doesn’t exist, the key is the same: Your home should be the most comfortable for you. There is absolutely no point in having an HVAC unit if you’re going to sweat all summer or freeze all winter. For most people, this means a daytime temperature of 70 to 75 degrees, and a nighttime temperature of 65 to 72 degrees. The keys to saving money on your energy bill are directly related to these temperature ranges, but in ways you may not know. Setting your thermostat to the top of the day range will be cheaper, especially during peak AC usage hours (3PM to 7PM), but again, it’s all about comfort. Don’t sacrifice your comfort in an effort to try to save a few bucks; just a 1 degree temperature increase can save you money.

At night, feel free to lower that temperature. Your HVAC systems actually does less work at night (meaning a lower bill for you!) You can turn it down without spending more since your unit doesn’t have to fight against the sun or warmer outdoor temperatures to maintain the lower indoor temperature.

In the winter months, the ideal range is between 60 and 65 degrees. During winter months, it’s easy to throw on another layer. The main concern with your home’s or business’s indoor winter temperature is keeping your home above freezing to prevent your pipes from freezing, so if it’s possible to keeping your home between 50 and 55 degrees for 7 or 8 hours a day, you can save you 30% on your bill.

While you may have heard some of that before, one of the biggest questions we get about heating and cooling your home is about leaving your HVAC system on while you’re away from home.

You probably turn off your air conditioning while you’re on vacation in summer or turn off thefurnace when you head to the slopes in winter; as you should anytime you leave home for more than 24 hours. However, turning your systems on and off while you’re gone for shorter amounts of time, particularly during very hot or very cold weather, can actually end up costing you more money!

It may sound counterintuitive to leave your unit running during the day, but think about your home’s construction. Each home is insulated to help maintain the internal temperature, and prevent extreme outdoor temps from sneaking in. If you turn it off while you leave on a hot day, and then turn it back on, it can take your unit hours to get through the insulation. Your unit will be working to cool a higher temperature for a longer amount of time, costing you more!

If you’re looking to save money and energy, let’s revisit those temperature ranges from above.

  • In the summer, boost your AC between 5 and 8 degrees above your ideal temperature.
  • In the winter, lower your heater between 5 and 8 degrees below your idea temperature.
  • Only turn the unit off if you’ll be gone for more than 24 hours.

Hopefully this will help you make the best decisions for your comfort and AC bill until the magical self-assessing and operating HVAC unit is invented! If you have more questions about insulation, updating your HVAC system, regular maintenance or just how to better optimize your unit, call BNG. We have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, or your money back.