The continental climate is our favorite climate. Brutally cold winters and peppery sunshine in the summertime give the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area character. Living in the continental climate also calls for both heating and air conditioning, which means double the opportunities for a humble Sioux Falls HVAC contractor such as yours truly.

You may not have had the good fortune to work in HVAC. Even so, seasonal changes offer opportunities to any homeowner who manages to keep up with them, no matter their mechanical skills. Here are a few good habits to adopt if you want to save money on heating and cooling bills, help your furnace and air conditioner last longer, and enjoy the sanctity of your own home in greater comfort.

How to Prepare Your HVAC for Summer

Replace air filter. Between your furnace’s air handler and return duct sits its filter. It removes dust and other contaminants from circulating air, but also impairs operation when it becomes very dirty. Swap out the filter in the late spring when you think the furnace has retired for the season. That will give your AC an easier job a couple months down the line.

Clear area surrounding AC unit. Two feet of open space. That’s how much clearance your AC unit needs in order to efficiently exchange heat with the outdoor air (and frankly, one yard of clearance around all sides couldn’t hurt). If branches, dead leaves, toys, sporting equipment, or anything else is near your AC unit, relocate it.

Clean AC unit. Many homeowners hire HVAC contractors to perform spring AC maintenance. Part of the technician’s services includes cleaning. You could do it yourself by removing your outdoor AC unit’s grille, hosing off any debris stuck to the compressor or its fins, and finally cleaning the condenser coil. Degreasing the coil requires a cleaning product that is powerful enough to burn skin; follow the proper safety protocol while handling it.

Program thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to raise the temperature 7 to 10 °F for eight hours each summer day – ideally while you’re at work. According to the Department of Energy, doing so can save you as much as 10 percent on cooling costs. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, contact PrairieSons to start saving money!

Set ceiling fans to counterclockwise. On your ceiling fan is a switch that alternates the direction the fan spins. Switch it to counterclockwise before warm weather arrives. That way the fan will push air downward to create a cool, pleasant breeze. As a corollary, make sure to switch your fan back to clockwise before winter. That creates an updraft which circulates warm air throughout the room. This simple trick helps you stay comfortable while paying for less heating and cooling!

How to Prepare Your HVAC for Winter

Replace air filter. Just like every spring, you should replace your HVAC system’s air filter each fall as well. You would ideally replace your air filter every three months (or more often if you have lots of kids and pets; or less often if you have a premium HEPA filter; it depends on your circumstances).

Clean ductwork. Your family probably spends a lot more time indoors during winter. That’s why it’s good to clean your air ducts every autumn: it minimizes your exposure to all the dust, pet dander, mold, fungi and bacteria that normally accumulate inside ventilation ducts. Clean ducts also make it easier for your furnace to move warm air around your house: savings inbound.

Test furnace. It’s better to discover that your furnace isn’t working before the first frost arrives. Turn it on in early fall. Wait for the musty ozone smell of dust burning off the heat exchanger, followed by a reassuring wave of heat. If these things don’t happen, call an HVAC expert while you still have plenty of time.

Clear area surrounding furnace. Like your AC, your furnace has to pull air into itself in order to work correctly. It functions best with free air flow, so remove any clutter, storage, and especially any flammable materials from your furnace’s immediate vicinity. Sweep up any dust and debris on the floor surrounding the furnace, and then give the whole unit a gentle wipedown.

Test carbon monoxide detector. The Invisible Killer.” That’s what carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless, and extremely poisonous gas is known as. If your furnace’s heat exchanger cracks, it can produce CO gas. In low concentrations CO can produce adverse health effects in a matter of hours. In high concentrations, it can kill an entire family in mere minutes. Your CO detector will emit an ear-piercing screech if it senses the Invisible Killer. Make sure it’s able to do so each fall.

AC and furnace maintenance aren’t impossible tasks for a competent DIYer. But if you’d rather save yourself the trouble and make sure the job is done right by local professionals, then we welcome you to contact PrairieSons today. We service homes and businesses for all their HVAC and plumbing needs throughout the greater Sioux Falls, SD area!