Heating and cooling systems can be made more efficient by sealing and insulating air ducts, installing programmable thermostats, regularly cleaning filters, adding insulation in roof and walls and scheduling yearly maintenance by a professional. Replacing an outdated system with an energy-efficient one is another option for increasing performance and cost-effectiveness.
20 percent of a home's conditioned air is lost because of leaks in air ducts, improper seals of the connections between ducts or lack of insulation in ducts that are in areas without heating and cooling, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Programmable thermostats usually include four settings, making it possible to regulate temperatures by time of day, with cooler settings during the work day and overnight. The temperature settings can then be readjusted for seasonal changes, maintaining comfort but increasing efficiency.
Reading gas and electric meters or using monthly utility bills to track costs and compare by season and temperatures are ways to determine if the steps taken are having the desired results. Heating and cooling expenditures represent about half the utility costs of maintaining a home, according to the Department of Energy. If changes don't yield desired results, upgrading to an energy-efficient heating and cooling system may be warranted.