(ARA) — Heating and cooling systems account for 56 percent of energy used in a typical home, making it the largest energy expense for most households, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Making smarter decisions about your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system can help you save money on your monthly utility bills.

American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning has developed several tips for cutting your heating and cooling costs without cutting comfort.

Install a programmable thermostat.

Controlling energy costs starts with your thermostat. During winter months, you can save nearly 3 percent of heating costs for each degree your thermostat is lowered. In the summer, cooling costs are cut up to 6 percent per each degree you raise the thermostat. A programmable thermostat will automatically adjust temperatures throughout the day, ensuring greater energy efficiency and enhanced comfort. Some thermostat models even allow homeowners to pre-program desired temperatures for specific times of day. You can save costs by easily adjusting the heating and cooling settings for when times when you’re waking up, leaving for work, sleeping or going on vacation.

Upgrade to variable speed heating or cooling.

Depending on your comfort needs and where you live, you can choose from a variable speed furnace or air handler. Both work with the outdoor unit to ensure the greatest energy efficiency and consistent comfort throughout your home. “Variable speed” refers to how a furnace or air handler’s indoor blower motor runs. A two-stage, variable speed furnace or air handler operates at an energy-saving lower speed and a higher speed, when needed, for more consistent air circulation. With steadier, variable speeds, these indoor units don’t have to turn on and off as frequently, which reduces temperature swings and may help to lower your heating bills.

Consider a hybrid system.

Hybrid HVAC systems bring together two different fuel sources, typically a gas furnace and an electric heat pump, for more efficient heating and cooling. A hybrid system is calibrated to automatically switch between the furnace and heat pump depending on which offers the most economical power for your heating or cooling needs at any given time. Cost savings can be significant. In fact, American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning’s Heritage Hybrid comfort system can deliver up to 50 percent savings over a comparable 10-year old system.

Check your filter every month.

It is especially important to check your filter during heavier usage periods such as winter and summer and, at a minimum, change the filter every three 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 buildup in your system. Some programmable thermostats will even remind you when to check your filters.

Get the best energy efficiency ratings.

Your heating and cooling system’s components should have the highest possible energy efficiency ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the product and lower your energy bills can be. Make sure your components meet the following minimums:

* Furnaces: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 80 or higher

* Heat pumps: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings of 7 or higher

* Air conditioners: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings of 13 or higher

By following these few easy tips, you and your family can cut energy costs and enjoy cleaner and more comfortable air all year long. For more information on how to cut your home’s energy costs without sacrificing comfort or to locate an independent American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning dealer near you, visit www.americanstandardair.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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