Summers in Raleigh can be brutal and if you’re like most people, you’re probably looking to save on your energy bills. You may have heard that closing the air vents in unused rooms is a great way to do this. It makes sense, right? By closing those vents, the air should be redirected to the vents that are open in the rooms that you are using. The idea is that your HVAC unit now has less space to cool or heat, making its job easier and your home more comfortable.
Unfortunately, your HVAC system doesn’t quite work that way.
Why You Should Always Keep Your Air Vents Open
You might be surprised to learn that closing air vents in unused rooms actually makes your HVAC unit work harder and could make your bills higher.
Your air conditioner is designed to deliver a specific amount of air based on your home’s size, not based on how many vents are open. No matter how many vents you have open, your HVAC unit will produce the same amount of air. In short, keep your vents open at all times because closing them will not save you money. In fact, it may end up costing you – big time.
Closing a vent actually puts more pressure on your system because now the air has fewer places to go. This causes pressure to build up in your ducts, which can lead to leaks. Leaks mean energy waste and higher electric bills.
Further, closing an air vent makes your unit work harder, which can cause major damage. An overheated air handler, frozen evaporator coils, or even a burned-out compressor are all common when vents have been closed. These repairs can end up costing anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. So much for saving money!
Ways to Save Money on Heating and Cooling
Since we now know that closing vents is bad for your HVAC unit and won’t save you any money, what are some legitimate ways to cut your energy bills? Here are a few…
- Try to keep your thermostat at 78 degrees. This is considered the optimal money-saving temperature.
- Keep your AC lower at night, or use the sleep mode on your thermostat.
- Get a programmable thermostat that will automatically make temperature adjustments when you’re sleeping or away from home. According to the EPA, homeowners save 10 to 30% off their heating and cooling costs when they install a programmable thermostat.
- If you still only want to cool part of your home, consider a window unit or a portable unit. This will cool whichever room the unit is in at a fraction of the cost of central AC.
- Get regular HVAC maintenance to make sure your unit is working as efficiently as possible.
- Use your ceiling fans, even in the winter. In the summer, your fans should be set to rotate counterclockwise (to the left) to push cool air down. In the winter, set your fan to rotate clockwise (to the right) at a low setting to push the warm air down. To adjust the direction, just flip the switch on the side of your ceiling fan base.