HVAC units are one of the biggest energy hogs in a building. Up to half of a home’s energy costs can be attributed to its HVAC system. With rising energy costs, and an increased global awareness of environmental issues, “green HVAC” systems are becoming a standard when it comes to building construction and maintenance.

One way to take an existing HVAC system green or “eco-friendly” is to perform regular maintenance on the filters. A dirty air filter will result in decreased air flow throughout the system, which will make the HVAC unit work harder, and unnecessarily waste more energy than it has to. Dirty air filters can also cause dust and other particles to build up and get into the mechanics of the system, leading to lowered performance, and possibly reducing the life of the system. Air filters should be changed every 3 months to ensure clean, uninterrupted air flow.

Another green upgrade to an HVAC system is checking the duct work. Air flow lost to poor ducting can lead to a 20% loss in efficiency and can be a buildings greatest energy waste. Energy can be saved by making sure all duct work in the building is properly sealed. Another green upgrade to existing HVAC systems is to install a programmable thermostat. Setting pre programmed temperature settings to different times of the day will ensure that the system is not wasting energy heating or cooling an empty building. Just adding a programmable thermostat can lead to over $180 a year in energy savings.

Another option is to upgrade the whole system to an ENERGY STAR certified HVAC system. These systems use more efficient technology than traditional systems and can save as much as 50% off current energy costs. Another cost benefit is that some areas and counties offer tax credits for upgrading to an energy efficient HVAC model. These systems will ensure that the system is energy efficient as well as environmentally friendly.