How a Heating and Cooling Specialist May Be Able to Help You Reduce Your Energy Costs
An estimated 100 million homes in the United States are equipped with air conditioning systems. Accordingly, the average American spends $700 on their air conditioning and home heating systems every year. If this figure seems high to you, you would be right; HVAC services account for over 50% of energy costs in the average American home. Fortunately, there are a number of home heating and home cooling solutions that can help reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home, from renewable energy systems to more efficient home heating and cooling technology.
There are currently an estimated 81,246 heating and cooling businesses located in the United States, with an estimated 301,123 American employees. Moreover, this industry is growing by an average of 2.4% each year in the United States. This expansion is likely due to the HVAC services offered by heating and cooling specialists, which can help reduce a home’s energy usage while also maintaining a comfortable temperature, in addition to traditional home heating and cooling repair and maintenance services. However, if you want to decrease the cost of heating and cooling your home, there are a variety of steps you can take with the help of a HVAC specialist.
- Have your home evaluated
Have a heating and cooling specialist evaluate your home for efficiency. This can help determine if you HVAC system should be updated to help save money on your energy bills.
- Update your system
This can be as simple as adding a programmable thermostat or looking for entirely new home heating and cooling systems. Because new HVAC services utilize a great deal of new technology, new units are often extremely energy efficient and can create a sizable difference in your monthly energy bills.
- Make some changes to the outside of your home
While your HVAC system itself is a logical place to start, the landscaping and other surrounding your home can also have an effect on your home’s temperature. For example, by ensuring that the exterior of your home has proper shading, you can reduce your home’s cooling costs by as much as 10%. While these changes are small, they can add up and cause you to use your heating and cooling system less.
The temperature of your house has a significant effect on your daily comfort. However, it can be difficult to fully appreciate that comfort when it is responsible for half of your energy bill. However, there are often ways to reduce your payments and make your home more energy efficient. Contact a HVAC specialist today to learn how you may be able to optimize your heating and cooling system.
Which Water Heater is Right for Your Home?
You may have noticed a dip in the overnight temperatures in recent weeks. Did it send you into a panic about the short-lived nature of this year’s summer?
While there is likely plenty of warm weather left, it doesn’t hurt to start planning ahead for the winter. Homeowners may want to start checking their home heating systems for any repairs. More than half of American homes are heated using gas, and, if there are any leaks or dents in the system, it may not function optimally.
You will also want to make sure there that water heater repair isn’t necessary, either. A water heater may be even more critical than your home heating system, because you can always layer up if your heater breaks, but ice cold showers are unbearable, especially with sub-zero outdoor temperatures.
But if you do find that you need water heater repair for either your gas water heater or an electric one, you may want to speak to a heating repair company as soon as possible. If they determine that you need a new one, you’ll want enough time to gather the funds, because electric and gas water heaters are not cheap.
Here are a few things that technicians consider when they replace a water heater.
Depending on the size of your home, the right hot water heater will need to be big enough to heat every pipe. If you take a shower, and within 15 minutes the water is freezing, you may not have a large enough heater. For this reason, it’s critical to calculate the amount of hot water your family will need at one time, also called the flow rate. This is measured using gallons per minute (GPM), and the kitchen faucet and washing machine typically consume a larger number of GPM. Home Depot’s experts advise that for a household of three to five people, at least a 50 gallon water heater is necessary.
There three main types of fuels that are used for water heaters, namely gas, electricity, and a combination of the two. Gas water heaters generally cost more upfront to purchase and install, but less to operate. The piping has to be vented outdoors for safety purposes, and one with a sealed combustion will likely be less dangerous. They are also immune to power outages, unlike electric water heaters. These units are cheaper to buy, require little maintenance, and do not need to be vented. They also heat water fairly quickly. With a unit that is a hybrid, you will need to spend even more money to buy it, but your water will be heated 33% faster than an electric one. The best part of a hybrid is that operating costs drop significantly, and you can save hundreds of dollars a year.
Heating and cooling already consume about half of the average home owner’s energy bill, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, so water heater technicians will do their best to find the most energy-efficient models for your home. They will look for Energy Fact (EF) ratings on a unit, which helps to determine how much energy is used to produce heat, and the amount of heat lost during storage. An EF rating of one is preferable.
So, make sure that you check both your home heating unit and water heater to make sure they are functional. It will save you a lot of discomfort this winter.
Successful Install of Brand New Efficient Home Heating System
Click on the link below to hear from one of our happy customers who just installed a brand new high-efficiency heating system. Nothing makes us happier than knowing our customers have had a great experience with us and we sleep better at night knowing we’ve helped to make their home a more comfortable, more efficient and more safe place to live.
Avoiding Costly HVAC Service and Repair Bills
Having the number of a great HVAC service and repair company is a great idea — put it on your fridge next to the poison control hotline and the number to your favorite pizza place (maybe leave some space between those last two). But one of the main reasons people need HVAC service and repair in the first place is because their houses aren’t HVAC efficient, their systems end up working too hard, and they inevitably go kaput.
The cost for heating and cooling in the average U.S. home usually accounts for about half a family’s energy bill. Investing in a newer system will increase your home’s efficiency a little because… well, because it’s new. But even the most advanced home heating systems will still leave you cold without proper insulation, and the best water heater in the world won’t save you money on your energy bills if your pipes leak. Your HVAC system is far more than just a heater or an air conditioner. There’s your ductwork, your water pipes, your insulation, your siding, your attic, your grates… even something so simple as the size of each room or whether or not there’s a tree outside your window can affect your system’s productivity.
The more efficient your system, the easier your heater or air conditioner can work, and the longer it will last between HVAC service and repair calls. Losing heat through your walls? Upgrade your insulation. Losing heat through your attic? Check your seals and wall joints, and make sure your roof is tight. Are your rooms not staying cool? Make sure your window AC unit is big enough for the room’s square footage. Is your central air working too hard? Try some more efficient window treatments. Or try providing more shade on the outside, either with tree transplants or retractable awnings (your window glare will also be much better).
Sometimes, the simplest home cooling solutions are the best. If you want to take the stress off your AC, open your windows at night, to let in all that cool, refreshing night air (assuming it’s not humid and gross at night where you live), and close them in the morning when the sun comes up. If you keep your shades drawn, you can keep your rooms nice and cool for longer before having to resort to turning on the air conditioning.
And keeping your grates and vents clear of obstacles, debris, and dust can help improve the efficiency of your cooling and your heating, as well as keep the air in your home breathable and allergen-free. Just another easy tip to make your home not just where you live, but livable as well.
How Long Should Your AC Last?
Summer officially started June 21st, and the hot weather has arrived along with it. This is the time of year when we all begin turning on the air conditioning and hope it starts-up and cools our homes. Everyone knows that AC replacement can be a big investment, so we want our old unit to last as long as possible, maybe make it through just one more summer.
So, the real question, is how long should your AC last before it’s time to thank it for its dutiful service and retire it before it breaks down and you need expensive AC repairs?
In general, air conditioners last anywhere between 10-15-years on average. But the real answer to that question is somewhat geographically based on whether you live in a “heating-dominated” or “cooling-dominated” climate zone. Your climate zone is important because it affects how many hours your air conditioning system will run, and run hours for your AC are like miles on your car. More run hours equal more miles.
It stands to reason that if you live in a “cooling-dominated” climate zone, where air conditioning runs more than heating over the course of the year, your AC will run more and really rack up those “miles” faster than if you live in a “heating-dominated” climate zone. This is important because that probably means that you should be thinking and planning about AC replacement when your air conditioner is getting around the 10-year mark, which is also right around the time any warranties will expire as well. If you live in a region that is “heating-dominated” you ought to be thinking along the same lines as far as replacing your AC when your air conditioner is approaching the 15-year mark, long past any manufacturer warranty periods.
Just like a car with lots of mileage on it, your AC’s components start to wear out and fail, break downs become more frequent and expensive, and reliability goes downhill quickly, which can be very stressful worrying about your comfort. Nobody wants to come home to a blazing, hot home after the end of a long day, and then wait for a service technicians, who are all backed up with emergency calls for days trying to keep up with the hot weather.
If your air conditioning system was installed pre-2006, your replacement AC will also give you a big boost in energy efficiency and lower utility bills too.
Four Benefits of Air Conditioning Replacement
If you’re looking at replacing your central air conditioning system, high efficiency systems may make sense. Air conditioner efficiency is measured by SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. SEER is like the MPG (miles per gallon) of AC systems. When comparing systems, the higher the SEER rating the more efficient the unit.
Benefit-1 Save Money:
Hi-efficiency systems with high SEER ratings use way less energy, which means lower electric bills. A modern 16-SEER system can save you 50% when compared to an old 8-SEER system.
Benefit-2 Get Paid to Save:
Hi-efficiency air conditioners often have government and/or utility rebate incentives, which can lower your initial investment. Rebates make your payback faster by bringing costs closer to that of a standard efficiency system.
Benefit-3 Earth Friendly:
Hi-efficiency AC systems use less energy translating into real home energy savings and less green house gas emissions. Less electricity means less fossil fuels being burned to produce power.
Benefit-4 More Comfort:
Hi-efficiency air conditioning systems help maintain more precise temperatures in your home. Plus, they dehumidify the air in your home more effectively too.
Bottom line: Hi-efficiency is good for your wallet, good for the environment, and great for your comfort.
The Five Keys About Air Conditioning Replacement
If your air conditioner needs service, it might be time to consider replacing it instead of throwing good money after bad. Depending on the age, efficiency, and condition of your AC, often times it makes better sense to invest the money you could spend repairing your old system into replacing your air conditioner. Replacing your AC will mean lower utility bills and improved comfort in your home.
The average life expectancy of an AC is approximately 15–years, so it’s crucial you make the right decision, otherwise you’ll end up living with it for many years.
Key-1 Substance Over Status:
The brand of air conditioner you buy is important, but it’s not the most important factor. The manufacturer is not the one who is going to service and support you through the years. The company you hire, plus the standards they follow to install your air conditioner and conduct any ac repair are what’s critical, because that impacts your true cost of ownership over the long haul.
Key-2 Size Matters:
Nearly 1-out-of-2 air conditioners are over-sized, meaning they are too big for your home. When it comes to AC, bigger is definitely not better. Over-sized systems cost more to buy and operate. A professional “load analysis” of your home is crucial, especially if you’ve made alterations or home improvements since your air conditioning system was originally installed.
Key-3 Blow Hard:
Airflow through your air conditioner is how cooling is exchanged in your home. Improper airflow means your AC cannot do its job efficiently. Research shows that over two-thirds of air conditioning systems suffer from low airflow. “Low Flow” translates directly into decreased cooling capacity and increased utility costs. A thorough analysis of your ductwork is required to ensure your replacement air conditioner will deliver the comfort and efficiency you expect.
Key-4 Tight Is Right:
After ensuring the proper airflow, it’s vital to make sure your new air conditioning system is not connected to leaky ductwork. If your supply ductwork leaks air you just paid to cool before it actually gets delivered to your conditioned living space, you end up paying for something but not actually getting it. If your return ductwork leaks air from a hot, humid, nasty, dirty space like your attic or crawl space, you end up lowering the air quality in your home by introducing contaminants into your system. Plus, it costs way more to cool hot, humid, nasty air, than it does cooler, cleaner air from your home. The average duct system leaks 30% of its airflow, meaning you could be cooling the outdoors if you’re not careful.
Key-5 Take Charge:
Your new air conditioning system will use a modern, environmentally friendly refrigerant. Field studies show that 44% of systems are incorrectly charged. Precise charging of your AC system is required to achieve optimum efficiency and performance. A slight under or over charge will have a dramatic negative impact on system SEER ratings. Professional system commissioning is essential to air conditioner replacement.
A successful air conditioning system replacement starts with a professional consultation to learn about your goals & objectives, survey your entire home, inspect all units & ductwork, and perform a series of engineering checks to ensure your new system is properly sized with adequate ductwork. Lastly, your consultant should provide you with multiple options that include best practices to ensure guaranteed performance.
Your AC Unit: Repair or Replace?
As spring winds down and summer begins to rear its sultry head, more and more people are examining their home cooling systems to make sure they can handle the heat. If your system is only a few years old, you’re probably fine, and you can disregard this article and go look at cat pictures. However, if your system is approaching its 10-year installation anniversary, you may need to seriously consider repairs or even replacement.
All home cooling systems have a recommended lifespan. For most, it’s 15 years. But that doesn’t mean you should stick with your unit until the bitter end. Energy.gov states that around the 10-year mark, cooling units can become a major drag on your energy bills, claiming that you can “save 20% to 40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing [your unit] with a newer, more efficient model.”
But do you really need an entire replacement? Can your unit simply be repaired?
The short answer is — well, that there is no short answer; the practicality of repair-versus-replacement depends wholly on what needs to be repaired. Do your ducts need sealing? Filter replacement? A single, simple, failing part? All of these situations are easy and affordable jobs for your trusty heating and AC repair services.
Some phrases to beware of, though are “refrigerant leak,” “failed compressor,” and “R-22.” A refrigerant leak or a failed compressor can be a costly problem, and it may actually be financially advantageous to replace the entire system rather than repair these major problems — especially since they may lead to other major problems later on, when the summer heat is at its hottest.
The type of refrigerant you use is significant as well: R-22 is an older type of coolant, and is currently being rendered obsolete by the more efficient and environmentally friendly R410A. If you use the older coolant, you’ll probably need to upgrade your system in the near future anyway. Why not be ahead of the curve?
The first step in the process, whether your system needs repaired, replaced, or simply inspected, is a visit from your local AC service and repair company. Not only do they have the tools and talent necessary to accurately assess your entire system, but they have the most up-to-date industry knowledge to recommend the best course of action.
Don’t wait for your home cooling solutions to become home cooling problems, just when you need your AC the most. Get your unit inspected now, and spend the summer staying cool, calm, and collected.
Upgrade your home HVAC system early and save cash… Comfortably!
Just like off-season traveling can boost your travel budget, so too can taking advantage of the off-season to maintain or upgrade your home HVAC system. It’s just like when hotels or airlines have vacancies to fill, and are willing to offer discounts to prevent them from going unfilled. Actually, it’s even better, because similar to car manufacturers and auto dealers who have to make room for this year’s model, HVAC manufacturers and contractors, must move their inventory before they can load up on the latest and greatest models too. So there are huge deals to be had if you’re in the market for a system upgrade.
HVAC manufacturers and contractors are essentially trapped in weather purgatory during this time of the year. The long cold winter is quickly drawing to a close, and pretty much whatever was going to break down for the most part has already failed. After months of prolonged frigid temperatures, gloomy days, plus storm after storm, most clients just need a mental health break and aren’t thinking about how to turn this off-season weather into a financial opportunity.
Economics-101: The law of supply and demand states that when something is in high demand and low supply, the price goes up, and vice-versa. This is exactly how a weather driven business like HVAC works. When it’s freezing cold, the phones are ringing off the hook, and prices are at normal in-season levels; i.e. the dead of winter. And, when it’s blistering hot, the same thing happens; i.e. the middle of summer. But what happens during the in-between times, when it’s not freezing or blistering? The phones quiet down, business slows, sometimes grinds to a halt, and the demand goes away, opening up the opportunity for savvy customers to profit from planning.
Unfortunately, most people don’t think about their HVAC that is until it breaks down; sort of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. To make matters worse, when’s it usually going to break down? Yup, you guessed it, the next hot or cold wave, when demand is peaking again, along with prices. Do you see the dilemma?
So, what can you do? It’s simple, Plan Ahead! If your HVAC system is reaching it’s normal life expectancy, generally about 15-years old give or take, it may be time to consider upgrading it before it breaks down, and you end up throwing good money after bad on emergency repairs. Retiring an older, less efficient system during the off-peak season will save you lots of money on your upfront investment. Plus, as these units age they lose efficiency and capacity like all mechanical things do, so your new HVAC system will also lower your energy bills and improve your comfort.
And there you have it, the insider scoop.
Ben Franklin was the original energy conservation pioneer.
Ben Franklin was an original energy conservation pioneer. He’s credited with conceptualizing Daylight Saving Time while overseas in Paris back in 1784. His original intentions were to conserve candles. Our country officially adopted DST during the spring of 1916 as a way to conserve vital energy resources during World War 1. Following America’s lead, many other countries followed suit shortly thereafter. Today DST is implemented in over 70 countries, affecting over a billion people! Conserving our precious energy resources is not a new idea, even our founding fathers understood saving energy was important… and patriotic too.
Heating Efficiency & Replacement Tips
Space heating is the largest energy expense in most homes, accounting for two-thirds of annual energy bills in cold climates.
Why Buy an Energy Efficient Furnace/Boiler?
Heating is the largest energy expense in most homes, accounting for almost two-thirds of annual energy bills in colder areas of the country. Heating systems in the United States emit a billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and about 12% of the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emitted by the nation. Reducing energy use for heating is the single most effective way to reduce your home’s contribution to global environmental problems.
Conservation efforts and a new high-efficiency heating system can often cut your pollution output and fuel bills in half. Upgrading your furnace or boiler from an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) of 56% to 90% in an average cold-climate house will save 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions if you heat with gas or 2.5 tons if you heat with oil and will cut your heating bill by almost 40%.
If your furnace or boiler is old, worn out, inefficient, or significantly oversized, the simplest solution is to replace it with a modern high-efficiency model. Old coal burners that were switched over to oil or gas are prime candidates for replacement, as well as gas furnaces without electronic (pilotless) ignition.
A central furnace or boiler’s efficiency is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). AFUE is a measure of how efficient the appliance is in using fossil fuel (gas or oil) or electricity (for an electric furnace) over a typical year of use.
An all-electric furnace or boiler has no flue loss through a chimney. The AFUE rating for an all-electric furnace or boiler is between 95% and 100%. The lower values are for units installed outdoors because they have greater jacket heat loss.
The efficiency of manufactured furnaces is governed by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 and regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy. The minimum allowed AFUE rating for a noncondensing, fossil-fueled, warm-air furnace is 78%; the rating for a fossil-fueled boiler is 80%; and the rating for a gas-fueled steam boiler is 75%. A condensing furnace or boiler condenses the water vapor produced in the combustion process and captures the heat released from this condensation. The AFUE rating for a condensing unit can be much higher (by more than 10 percentage points) than a noncondensing furnace. Although a condensing unit costs more than a noncondensing unit, the condensing unit can save you money in fuel costs over the 15 to 20-year life of the unit.
Tips for Buying a New Furnace/Boiler
- If you live in a cold climate, it usually makes sense to invest in the highest efficiency system available. In milder climates with lower annual heating costs, the extra investment required to go from 80% to 90%-95% efficiency may be hard to justify.
- When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers, look for dependability. Buy a system with a good warranty and a reputable company to back it up.
- When buying gas and oil systems, specify sealed combustion. Sealed-combustion appliances bring outside air directly into the burner and exhaust flue gases (combustion products) directly to the outside, without the need for a draft hood or damper. They generally burn more efficiently and pose no risk of introducing dangerous combustion gases into your house. With nonsealed-combustion appliances, back-drafting of combustion gases can be a big problem, especially in tightly-sealed modern homes.
Tips for Lowering Your Furnace/Boiler’s Energy Usage
- Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
- Keep the temperature fairly constant, as frequent changes will utilize more energy by causing unnecessary cycling on and off. Setting back the temperature at night, however, is recommended.
- Clean or replace furnace filters once a month or as needed.
- Oil-fired boilers should be professionally cleaned and tuned once a year. Gas-fired equipment needs to be checked every other year.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
- Keep draperies and shades on south-facing windows open during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home; close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Close the door to an unoccupied room or area that is isolated from the rest of the house and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heat for that room or area.
- Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely. Turn these fans off as soon as they are no longer needed. In about 1 hour, these fans can pull out a house-full of warmed or cooled air. They can also pull dangerous furnace combustion gasses into the house in some situations.
- Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
- Do not use duct tape to repair leaky ducts. Standard duct tape has been shown unreliable in sealing duct leaks. Various mastics or non-cloth-backed tapes are preferable.