Adjusting Your Return Registers For The Season

Central Air vents

Cooler weather is upon us, which means it’s time to turn on your heat. With heating costs on the rise, we want to remind you to adjust your return registers to ensure your heating system works efficiently, which will help to save you money.

The Lancaster area sees the weather vary throughout the year. It can get quite chilly in the winter, with temperatures dropping below freezing, and quite warm in the summer, with temperatures soaring into the 90s. By adjusting your return registers, you can keep your house at the perfect temperature all season long, no matter how high or low the thermometer goes.

What is a Return Register?

Often referred to as high/low vents, ducts, and grilles, return registers are pairs of registers located near the ceiling and floor of rooms throughout your home. They contain slatted openings. You can recognize these registers because they are usually bigger than a supply vent.

Go through your home and identify all your register vents so you know where they are. By strategically opening and closing these registers, you can optimize the airflow and comfort throughout your home as the seasons change.

Did you know your register vents should be cleaned? Over time, dust and debris can make air registers dirty and negatively affect your indoor air quality. You can actually clean your register vents yourself. Generally, you should leave the upkeep of your HVAC systems to professionals, but it’s okay to take off your registers and run them under water for a few minutes to get them clean. You can use a vacuum to gather any remaining dust.

Why Should You Adjust Your Return Registers?

If you have never adjusted your return registers before, you may find yourself wondering why you should start doing it now. Isn’t that just one more thing to keep track of in your already-busy life? While it does require a few minutes of your time each season, adjusting your register vents is well worth the effort. Just a few of the benefits of undertaking this task include:

  • Saving money on your heating and cooling bills: More efficient registers that cool and heat the room will reduce your energy bills. You won’t have to pay as much for heat or air conditioning when air flows properly through your home.


  • Turning it into a habit: When you make sure to adjust your registers every winter and summer, you set up a system you can continue to use to ensure you save money on utility bills in the long term. Consider attaching your adjustment period to something on the calendar, such as Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. That way, you’ll remember to make the changes every year on those dates.
  • Alerting you when your HVAC system needs attention: If you follow these tips and adjust your vents regularly, but you stop seeing a change in your energy efficiency, then it may be time for a technician to inspect your HVAC system. Think of register adjustment as an early warning system, a way to give you a heads up when things are out of whack.

You can find other advantages of adjusting your registers, too, as you get in the habit. As with all home maintenance, a bit of preventative action can save you headaches down the line. You can also always reach out to a qualified HVAC service provider in Lancaster like Ranck Plumbing, Heating & AC who can assist you with HVAC maintenance.

How to Adjust Air Vents

Knowing how to adjust your air vents is a great skill to have when you want to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system and reduce utility costs. First, you should set your thermostat to either heating or cooling. Make sure that you can feel the warm or cool air coming through the system by placing your hand in front of the vents in each room. Most return vents have a small lever that allows you to adjust whether they are open or closed. If you cannot feel any air coming through the vent, it means your vent is closed. If you do feel the air, it means your vent is open. You will want to adjust the registers depending on if you want your home to be cooler or warmer. Make sure to repeat the process in each room so can evenly heat or cool your home.

Adjust Return Registers for Winter

It’s important to remember that hot air rises and cold air falls. In the winter you want the cold air to be drawn through the return registers leaving the hot air behind. By opening the lower registers and closing the top ones you keep hot air in and draw the cold air out. Since cold air is heavy it will automatically flow down to the lower register, so keep your lower return vents open in the winter.

adjusting return registers

Adjust Return Registers for Summer

In the summer you want the cold air to remain and the hot air to be drawn out through the return registers. To increase the flow of cold air, you should open the top return registers and closer the lower return registers. Cold air sinks to the bottom of the room while hot air rises to the top and exits through the top register. By closing the floor registers and opening the ceiling registers you force the hot air out while keeping the cold air in the room.

What Are The Benefits?

By adjusting your return registers, you can optimize the airflow throughout your home to keep temperatures comfortable for you and your family. These adjustments also work to reduce energy costs, as well as your energy footprint. With this tip, your HVAC system won’t have to work quite as hard to keep you cozy in the winter and cool during the summer.

Need Assistance Adjusting Return Registers? Ranck Can Help

If you still feel uncertain about adjusting your return registers, that’s OK. We can help you. Our well-trained team of HVAC professionals can show you how to do it and set you up for the next season. Schedule an appointment with Ranck Plumbing, Heating & AC, or call us at 717-397-2577 to learn more!

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