Signs Your HVAC System Is Wasting Energy

Especially in Southern California, we need our air conditioners and cannot imagine life without them. We are even willing to pay higher electric bills in the summer to keep our family comfortable. But they were not meant to last forever. They often need to be serviced and they all eventually stop working.

An inefficient HVAC system can lead to high energy bills and increased maintenance costs. As units age, they become less efficient resulting in increased monthly utility bills. This is no small matter—these incremental changes add up over time, especially considering that keeping a house at a comfortable temperature accounts for about a quarter of the total electricity used in U.S. homes.

If you are tired of wasting energy and money every month, your HVAC system could be responsible for around half of your energy bills. If something is wrong with it, it could be costing you more than you realize.


Here Are Some Common Signs That You Need An Energy Audit:


The Temperature Fluctuates From Room to Room

Several factors, including poor insulation, air leaks, and a malfunctioning HVAC system, can cause uneven temperatures. If you notice that some rooms are too hot or too cold, it is crucial that you have your HVAC system inspected for any issues. An inefficient HVAC system will struggle to maintain a consistent temperature throughout your home or commercial building. You may notice that some rooms are too hot while others are too cold, leading to discomfort and reduced productivity.


The House Remains Humid When the AC Is Running

If you feel clammy indoors even when you are sitting in an air-conditioned room, it can be a good sign that something is wrong with your AC. That sticky feeling is a symptom of higher than usual humidity. An efficient HVAC should be able to control both temperature and humidity.

As warm air passes over a unit’s frigid evaporator coils, the moisture condenses, thereby removing moisture from the air. If, however, an AC unit’s evaporator coils are not cold enough—due to a loss of refrigerant or a maintenance issue—it will not remove as much moisture from the air. As a result, homeowners will often lower the thermostat even more to find some relief, forcing the HVAC to work harder and consume more energy.


Your System Runs Constantly

Not only does an undersized HVAC system struggle—and fail—to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, but it also wastes a lot of energy since it is constantly struggling to achieve the desired temperature. Perhaps your system does not provide sufficient power for your region’s climate, or maybe you added on to your home without updating the HVAC to match the new, larger footprint.

If your system is constantly struggling to keep up with the desired temperature, consult with an HVAC professional at the next system checkup. If they determine that your system is oversized or too small for your home’s cooling and heating demand/load, consider upgrading to a more adequately sized unit.


Your HVAC System is Short Cycling

HVAC systems run in cycles rather than operating continuously. If you notice that your system is going through cycles rapidly (i.e., turning on and off frequently), then something is wrong. The same is true if the system runs non-stop. As the system moves away from optimal cycling, it operates less efficiently.

In many cases, short cycling is an indication of some other problem. Your HVAC system might not be able to keep up with demand because it is damaged. It might also be due to faulty control systems. Or the building is not insulated well. In any case, the result is more wasted energy and costly energy bills.


You Are Cooling (or Heating) the Entire House

Traditionally, older HVAC systems feature a single system, with a single temperature setting, to condition the entire house. A common complaint centers around keeping the temperature set to satisfy one area and other areas experience discomfort from overheating or cooling. Not only does this approach require large amounts of energy to condition the air in every room at once, but it also does nothing to guarantee individual comfort for everyone in the house. A better approach for comfort and efficiency is to zone the home by living areas. This way, you only condition the space as you use it.


You Are Still Using a Manual Thermostat

Are you still using a manual thermostat to adjust your HVAC system’s settings? Getting up and walking to the thermostat every time you want to change the temperature is a hassle, and you waste energy not doing so. Smart thermostats are state-of-the-art devices packed with a long list of features that help you stop wasting energy, including:

  • Offer pre-programmed settings for every day of the week
  • Learn your habits and automatically adjust the temperature accordingly
  • Give you remote control over your HVAC system from anywhere in the world
  • Send you energy usage reports that help you pinpoint problematic areas
  • Alert you when you need to change the filter or schedule maintenance
  • Provide updated weather reports so that you can plan ahead


Utility Bills Have Increased

This may seem obvious, but unless your utility company has increased your gas or electric rates, or you have recently installed another energy-intensive appliance, monthly costs should be consistent year to year. An inefficient HVAC system will consume more energy to maintain a comfortable temperature, leading to higher energy bills. A slight increase in costs is normal with older units, because systems inevitably lose some of their efficiency to normal wear and tear, but big fluctuations are not. Check your billing history. If you notice that your energy bills have increased significantly without any changes in your energy usage, it’s time to inspect your HVAC system.


An Increase in Consumption Year-Over-Year

Just like the increased utility bills, seeing a year-over-year (YOY) dip in efficiency is normal. However, it should be gradual. Unless something breaks suddenly, you are not going to notice a major spike. However, you can still compare electricity consumption YOY to determine whether you are wasting energy or not.

It is always best to compare electricity consumption for the same month in different years. Ideally, you can compare many years in a row to develop a trend. However, keep in mind that there are many other factors at play. Building use, outside temperature, and more will vary independently. If you see anything more than a 5% decrease YOY, you want to have your system checked out.


You Need Frequent Repairs

Having a repair occasionally is not out of the ordinary. Like all major appliances, HVAC systems benefit from annual tune-ups and require occasional repair. But if you are making an increased number of calls to repairmen to service your air conditioner, furnace, boiler, or any other part of the HVAC system, this could signal that one or more of the units is wearing out and wasting energy. As a component fails, it draws excess energy in an attempt to provide thermal comfort. Once an HVAC system starts requiring frequent major repairs, homeowners should consider replacement.


Your Current HVAC System Is Approaching 10 Years Old

While maintenance can keep your HVAC system running for a long time, every system eventually ages out. As cooling and heating systems age, efficiency is lost, and more efficient equipment becomes available. As inefficiency accumulates, you use more energy to achieve the same effect. While regular maintenance helps your HVAC system’s longevity, you will still see a decrease in efficiency over time. That is typical wear and tear. Replacing an aging system can greatly improve efficiency, reduce waste, and be a good investment for cost savings in the future.

We recommend that if you have a system older than 10 years, it is worth looking at upgrading.


Lack of Maintenance

If you have been neglecting regular maintenance on your HVAC system, you are more likely to see a decrease in efficiency and an increase in costs. A professional energy audit can help identify areas of your HVAC system that need attention, including dirty air filters, clogged ducts, and other issues that can be fixed with simple maintenance.

Make sure you have routine maintenance to clean the indoor unit and periodic checks to see if ductwork has dirt build-up and needs to be cleaned. Another alternative is zoning, which results in shorter duct runs and improved efficiency.



Final Thoughts

Warm weather is here, so it is important to take a few preventative measures to protect your home through the scorching months. You can always count on the Aire-Tech to keep your home cool. Perhaps you need repairs, new thermostat installation, or preventative maintenance—whatever the HVAC issue is, Aire-Tech is ready to help.

If your system needs repair or inspection before winter, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.