Decoding Myths on How to Heat and Cool Homes



By Colin Martodam, Special to the Coastal Real Estate Guide


If you’ve been told closing air vents in unused rooms in your home will allow faster or more concentrated airflow into other rooms, or that leaving your ceiling fan on while you’re not home will help cool the house faster, you’ve fallen victim to two of the many heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) myths. American Residential Services, a residential heating and air conditioning company, is here to educate you on common myths so you can stop wasting energy and start saving money.

· Myth: If you close air vents in certain rooms that are not being used, you will help push air into rooms you are using to reduce the load on your HVAC system and save money on your electric bill.

· Fact: If you have a modern forced air and heating system, the pressure load is balanced throughout the house. Blocking the vent can impact how the system inhales and exhales air; in other words, it can throw the system out of balance, causing it to have to work harder or possibly break down. Shutting off air flow in rooms can eventually ruin the compressor, resulting in potentially costly repairs or unit replacement. Instead, leave all vents open so air can circulate throughout your home at a balanced rate.

· Myth: Leaving your ceiling fan on will cool a room, especially while you’re not home.

· Fact: Fans cool your skin, not the air. Fans do not lower room temperature. A fan works by circulating the air in a space; when the air moves across the skin, we feel cooler even though the air temperature in the room remains the same. If a fan runs in a room when no one is there, no one is feeling its benefits, so it’s just raising your monthly electricity bill.

Myth: Home warranties for new construction cover defects during the HVAC installation process and the materials used to make the unit.

Fact: Tasks such as changing your air filter, inspections, changing of the fan belt and lubrication are your own responsibility. If you choose to wait until your warranty period is almost up, or if you choose to do these tasks on your own, you could end up with a costly repair bill. Instead, find an HVAC provider that offers its own warranty for all repair and maintenance work performed on your unit.

Myth: Residential heat pumps do not have a long life cycle because they operate 12 months of the year.

· Fact: Dirt, improper application and service, and lack of preventative maintenance top the list for heat pump failures. If you uphold the maintenance on your pumps, just like your air conditioning unit, your pump will last much longer than if it wasn’t properly maintained.

· Myth: You need to change your air filter once a year.

· Fact: To save on your energy bill and keep your system running efficiently, your filter should be changed every two months, and even more often when you’re running your system harder, like during peak summer days. Dust, dirt, pollen and pet hair are just a few of the culprits clogging up filters and reducing the air flow. Get on a maintenance plan with your preferred HVAC services provider and you could save a lot of money in the long run.

· Myth: To cool off your home faster, turn the temperature a few degrees below the temperature you actually want.

· Fact: Your AC unit takes hot air in your home and replaces it with cool air at a set rate of speed; you can’t make the unit work any faster by lowering the dial beyond your desired temperature.

· Myth: There is no need to have your system checked unless there is a problem.

· Fact: Just like you maintain a car with fuel, oil, air in your tires, etc., you have to maintain your home’s HVAC unit. Holding off or avoiding routine maintenance checks until there is a problem could be extremely costly. Talk to your local HVAC service provider about affordable maintenance plans to keep your system running efficiently, effectively and safely, all year long.

Colin Martodam, regional manager of Tustin-based American Residential Services. CSLB Lic # 791820.