Many smart thermostats claim they can save you money on your heating and air conditioning bills. Indeed, you might save a considerable amount of money by getting a Nest or Ecobee3, but they can also cost you more money if your house itself isn’t optimized for good airflow.
If you constantly dread looking at your energy bill every month, it might not be the thermostat causing the problems, so a smart thermostat alone won’t be able to save you. But here are a handful of things you should keep in mind so that your HVAC system is heating and cooling your house in the most efficient way possible.
Closing off vents uses more energy, because your system is working harder in order to push past the increased pressure that closed vents create, especially if you have a variable-speed system fan that can change speeds automatically. If you have an older system, then it’s likely that the fan remains at a constant speed, which is still bad news if you close too many vents, as the increased pressure will simply slow down the fan’s speed, resulting in less airflow.
Plus, if your ductwork isn’t sealed (which it most likely isn’t), then that increased pressure can also push out fresh heated or air conditioned air through the small cracks in the ductwork and into your attic instead of your living space.
On paper, closing vents to push air to places where it’s really needed makes a lot of sense, and it should work, but because of how HVAC systems are designed, it’s actually the direct opposite. This is why smart vents are mostly a bad idea.You might be fine closing a few vents around the house, but even then, if your HVAC system and ductwork are old and inefficient, it’s probably not ideal.
So What's The Solution?
You can do a few things:
- Keep an eye on your air filter: Most air filter manufacturers will tell you to change out your system’s air filter every three months, but depending on how often you run your heating or A/C, you may need to change the air filter more often.
- Inspect your HVAC system: I would suggest you have a professional inspect it for you. But you can also do a few things in this area yourself. Go outside and take a look at your A/C condenser. If there are obstructions in the way, get rid of them, and I’m not just talking about debris. Many homeowners like to hide their A/C condenser with bushes, lattices, shades, etc., but it’s a piece of machinery that likes being completely free with the wind blowing all around it, so let it be free. Next, if it’s winter and you have the heating going, inspect the flames that the furnace produces. They should be steady blue flames that aren’t flickering orange (a teeny bit of flickering is okay). If they are flickering orange a lot, this indicates a problem that requires a professional to check out.
- Improve your attic insulation: Your house’s insulation is one of the main features that keeps the inside cool during the summer and warm during the winter, so it makes sense that one of the best things you can do to keep your energy costs low is improve the insulation. However, while you can’t just tear down drywall and upgrade the insulation, you can easily get into your attic and improve the insulation there.
- Install new windows: There’s no doubt that getting new windows for your house is a great way to cut down on energy costs, especially if your house is older and the original single-pane windows are still standing. However, the cost may not be worth it, and there are cheaper ways to modify your house to cut down in energy costs.
- Put a smart booster fan in your vents: In most homes design and implementation of ducting don't match. Bad implementation leads to trapped air in your ducts and so you end up cranking up and down the thermostat to get the perfect temperature in your bedrooms. By placing a booster fan in your vents, you can boost the airflow that is trapped and cool/heat the room much faster and so save on your energy bill. You can our smart booster fans and see how we are doing this!
If you are having issues with your airflow, do comment on this article and let us know if I can help you!