Keeping your home cool and comfortable on hot summer days doesn’t need to cost a fortune. These tips can ensure your heating and cooling equipment lasts a long time and operates at maximum efficiency:

• Clean and change filters: Dirty air filters can cause a system to suffer from pressure drop, which can lead to reduced air flow or “blow-out,” which can result in no air infiltration at all. When this occurs, your HVAC equipment is working harder, which means increased energy bills and ultimately, more wear and tear. To avoid costly repairs and replacements and enjoy lower utility bills, clean your air filters monthly.

As far as replacing air filters is concerned, one general guideline to follow is to change them every three months. However, the truth is that optimal frequency for this maintenance task depends on a variety of factors, including the type of filter in your HVAC unit, the size of your home, if anyone in your family has allergies and whether or not you have pets. No matter how often you change air filters, be sure they are properly-sized for your system.

The importance of cleaning and replacing air filters can’t be overstated. Dirty air filters won’t just cost you more money, they can compromise your home’s indoor air quality and aggravate allergies and respiratory issues.

• Get annual service: Your HVAC or furnace technician should service your unit annually in order to check that all its various components are in working order. A service check may actually detect a problem before you notice it, and catching it in time could extend your unit’s life. Be sure to schedule this service before it’s an emergency (i.e. don’t wait until it’s the hottest day of the year and your unit is in disrepair.)

• Replace older units: Consider whether it’s time to replace your unit, factoring in its age and regularity of service. Newer units, especially those with ENERGY STAR labels, operate more efficiently. Indeed, a properly sized and installed ENERGY STAR air conditioner uses up to 20 percent less electricity than older models. So, even if your heating or cooling system is properly maintained, you may be spending more money than is necessary each month.

• Do it right: For ultimate savings, it’s best to ensure your HVACR equipment is installed and serviced properly. The best way to ensure fast, efficient service done right the first time is by hiring a technician certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE) for all installations, repairs and maintenance. NATE-certified technicians have demonstrated their knowledge of today’s increasingly sophisticated heating and cooling systems by passing a nationally recognized test developed and supported by all segments of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning industry. To find a NATE-certified technician in your area, visit Natex.org.

If reducing cooling costs, increasing home comfort and helping protect the environment are all important to you, there’s good news, with proper HVACR installation and maintenance, these don’t need to be competing priorities. (StatePoint)