The rising cost of energy bills has made homeowners more concerned with tightening up the thermal envelope and preventing waste. There are a variety of simple and effective energy saving measures that significantly trim monthly costs and reduce negative impact on the environment. One of the most beneficial investments is upkeep for the heating and cooling system. Like any piece of machinery with moving parts, the heating and cooling equipment experiences wear and tear. A gradual buildup of contaminants within the system, broken parts and other small issues add up to inferior performance. The system then needs to work harder and run longer to achieve desired comfort levels. The longer run times translate into greater energy consumption and higher costs. Annual maintenance completed by a professional HVAC technician restores peak energy efficiency and extends system service life. On their own, homeowners can be conscientious about replacing air filters. Whether the system is sitting idle or working hard, contaminants can find their way into the inner workings. The filter is designed as a line of defense. Once the filter becomes clogged, it no longer does it’s job. Filters should be changed approximately every month. Homes with pets or occupants who smoke may need to replace filters more often. A main source of energy losses in the average home is the duct system, often sacrificing up to 30% of heated and cooled air to leaks at the seams and holes. It’s important to have the ductwork inspected and tested every few years. Windows and doors tend to allow conditioned air to escape and outside air to come inside. Upgrading to Energy Star rated options and properly caulking and sealing can make a big improvement.