With warmer spring weather taking hold in much of the country, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute is reminding homeowners to schedule a checkup for their HVAC systems.

“Heating and cooling is the single biggest energy consumer in a home, and accounts for about 65 percent of all the energy used by homeowners,” said Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the group that represents the major HVAC market equipment manufacturers. “That’s why taking steps to ensure your units are running as efficiently as possible can help offset cooling costs this summer.”

Among the group’s green HVAC maintenance suggestions for homeowners:

?Inspect the air filter and change it if it’s dirty. Clean filters reduce energy consumption up to 15 percent.

?Keep leaves, grass clipping and other debris away from the outdoor condenser. Clean it with a water hose.

?Ensure furnishings do not block room vents.

If you do decide to have your furnace and air conditioner professionally serviced, consider using a company that employs technicians approved by the North American Technician Excellence certification organization.

“With proper maintenance, central air conditioning and heat pump units should last at least 12 to 15 years,” said Yurek. “Homeowners need to regularly service their heating and cooling equipment to keep them running smoothly. Spring is a great time to think about getting service before hot weather arrives and the rush for maintenance is in full swing.”