As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills — and your comfort. What follows is a short guide to more efficient home heating and cooling. Though relatively small steps, these simple conservation tips for heating and cooling can significantly reduce your energy costs.

Change your air filter regularly:
Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty, change it. Change the filter at least once every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool — wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt build-up in the system, eliminating the need for costly maintains. Checking your air filter and keeping in clean are two extremely quick tips for heating and cooling cost reduction.

Tune up your HVAC equipment annually:
Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your HVAC unit can lead to more efficient home heating and cooling.

Install a programmable thermostat:
A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away at work during the day. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you around R 2000 annually on your heating bills.

Seal your heating and cooling ducts:
Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often major energy wasters. For more efficient home heating and cooling, seal and insulate your ducts. This simple act can improve the effectiveness of your system by as much as 20 percent. Focus first on sealing ducts that run through your attic, crawl space, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant or foil tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. Next, wrap the ducts in insulation to keep them from being exposed to seasonal weather changes. Finally, seal ducts that you can access in the heated or cooled part of the house.