How To Save Money on Your HVAC Unit

In my house I have two units that are both heaters and air conditioners. Apparently they're called HVAC units, so if you're wondering what those are, it stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units. (Yes, I learned something new from one of my sponsored posts.) Unfortunately, despite calling a repair person to fix them a few weeks ago, they again weren't working. The first time, there was a problem with something in the outside units, and the repairman took care of them.
But up until yesterday morning, one unit wasn't even turning on, and the other unit, it would turn on, then turn off after 30 minutes approximately every single time. Which was very frustrating.

So yesterday the repair person came by, and for the big HVAC unit, fortunately it was a super simple fix. We have been having lots of black outs and electrical surges, but I had a surge protector, which should have stopped that from destroying my unit! But the unit still wasn't working! Turns out that the electric surges fried the surge protector, but the HVAC works just fine once I took out the surge protector. Thankfully for that line of defense! (And now I will contact the electric company who reimburses you for damages caused by surges, based on experience.)

But the other unit? While the repair person was fixing it, we were talking, and he heard that I blog teaching people to save money, and he told me that he had a good idea for a blog post for me.

The unit kept on getting this error code, e3, which according to him, meant that the unit was overheating, which it shouldn't, after just half an hour. He said that this could be happening from a thermostat issue, but he checked it out, and that wasn't the problem.

The reason the unit wasn't working was all my fault.

Filters, clean the filters y'all! I didn't have HVAC's my whole life (we only put in central air in my childhood home a year before we sold it and moved abroad, and since then I didn't have any HVAC units) so I didn't know this, and feel like a silly person saying this.

But according to the repairman, if you don't clean the filters enough, the problem gets more serious. Because once the filters are full of gunk, there's no place for the additional gunk to go, so then the unit itself gets filled with all these bits of dust and dirt and grossness, and that was what was causing my unit to overheat. It took taking apart the entire unit, taking off the outside plastic layers, and doing a deep clean inside to get it to work properly again.

The recommendation I got was to clean the filter every two months. But if you have a dog, or if you're a messy person in general, and have lots of dirt and other stuff flying around, clean filters once a month.

Do that, and you'll save yourself the money I just spent on a repairman.

To clean it, open the cover, remove the filters, and then in a bath tub, use hot water, a sponge, and dish soap to clean off the grime and the oil.

Have you had issues with your HVAC unit because of your filters? How often do you clean yours?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Thanks for this tip. We recently moved into a new place with similar units. I have been doing FlyLady techniques to try to keep on top of the cleaning. I think I'll add this advice to my list!

  2. Great post. I have a traditional US HVAC unit so all I have to do is replace my filter about every 2 months. They are the disposable kind so I buy them in bulk from Walmart. Since it's a newer unit I have it serviced every 6 months to maintain the warranty. Hopefully it will last 20 years but expect only 15.

  3. We have standard U.S. air conditioning central units. We opted years ago to pay for a service plan for them and it only costs us $23 a month. But it has saved us so much! Part of the plan is regular servicing of the units by the company, which includes cleaning and/or replacing the filters. I'm a firm believer that regular maintenance saves so much in the long run, and increases the life of all your equipment and appliances.

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