Did you know that home energy prices are on the rise and that heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy used in a typical home?
Replacing your air conditioning and heating system with a new high efficiency model may save you hundreds of dollars in utility expenses, increase the value of your home, clean the air you and your family breath, and dramatically reduce your impact on the natural environment.
Be Efficient – Save the EnvironmentUpgrading your HVAC system can potentially reduce your home’s energy consumption by 30 to 40%. With a new high efficiency system and properly sealed duct work you could dramatically reduce or even eliminate utility increases. Also, many utility companies offer incentives to homeowners who install high efficiency HVAC systems, search our database to see if you qualify for a rebate or low-interest loan.
|What's a SEER? - Equipment Guide||Leaking Ducts?|
|Get a Manual J||Routine Maintenance|
Be Comfortable – Make your Home Healthy and CozyThe Environmental Protection Agency lists Indoor Air Quality among the top 5 risks to human health, probably because indoor air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Indoor Air Quality add-ons for your air conditioning and heating system can make your home a dramatically healthier place for you and your family by reducing allergies, helping prevent asthma, and even boosting productivity.
|Indoor Air Quality||Control Humidity|
|Quality Installation||Routine Maintenance|
|Duct Cleaning/Sealing||Home Sealing/Installation|
You shouldn’t have to pay for all this! – Utility Rebates, Tax Credits, Specials & Promotions, and Financing Offers
So many parties win when you decide to install high-efficiency central air conditioners and heaters: you save money on your energy bills, the environment is saved from excess green house gas emissions, and our country reduces dependency on non-renewable energy. Many people therefore want to incentivize you to install these high-efficiency systems. Use our Rebates Engine to learn if there are incentives you can take advantage of.
|Search for Rebates|
What's A SEER?
SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating
The performance of your heating and cooling system is determined in a large part by your HVAC equipment’s operating efficiency.
Each “matched system” - an outdoor compressor bearing unit that matches with an indoor unit - is tested and awarded an Energy Efficiency Rating, sort of like a miles per gallon (mpg) rating for your car.
The more cooling/heating a system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes, the higher rating it will receive. The higher the efficiency rating of your system, the less energy it will consume…that means lower utility bills and less of an impact on the environment.
Also, utility companies will often compensate homeowners to the tune of hundreds of dollars to install high-efficiency systems. Use our Rebate Finder to see what rebates are available to you when you install a high efficiency system.
Air Conditioning Efficiency – SEER RatingsFor air conditioners, this metric is called a SEER rating, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Higher the SEER ratings mean greater efficiency.
As of January 2006, the federal government mandates that all new central air conditioning equipment be at least 13 SEER, but there is equipment available rated as high as 18 and even 23 SEER.
AirConditioningLoans.com urges you to install an air conditioning system that is at least 16 SEER, especially if you live in the Sunbelt where air conditioning systems run most often.
A homeowner in Florida who installs an 16 SEER system can save $2,070 in operating costs over the lifespan of their system and will prevent nearly 30,000 pounds of Green House Gases from being released into the atmosphere, the equivalent of removing 3 cars from the road each year or planting 4 acres of forest.
*Assumes 2,985 cooling hours, a 16 SEER 3 ton versus a 13 SEER 3 ton unit, electricity cost of $0.1113/kWh, & an operating life of 12 years.
Furnace Efficiency - AFUEAmazingly, one in four furnaces in U.S. homes today is more than 20 years old and should be replaced with new high-efficiency systems.
The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is the most widely used measure of a furnace’s efficiency. This is the measurement of the percentage of heat delivered to your house from each unit of fuel.
Standard systems might have an AFUE of 80%, which means the furnace converts 80% of the fuel it burns in to heat for your home while the other 20% is lost out of a chimney.
High-efficiency furnaces can be over 95% AFUE.
Heat Pump’s Efficiency -HSPFAir Source Heat Pumps, often used in moderate climates to heat and cool a home, are rated by a Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)
Heat Pumps use the difference between outdoor and indoor air temperatures to cool and heat your home much like standard air conditioners do. The difference is that Heat Pumps can cycle in both directions and can therefore provide cooling in the summer months and heating in the winter.
High efficiency Heat Pumps have a higher Heating and Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and use less energy than conventional models.
Your new cooling and heating system will only perform at optimal efficiency, comfort and safety levels if it is well installed. In fact, an improperly installed system could reduce a system’s efficiency by as much as 50%.
“That’s why getting educated on AirConditioningLoans.com before you finance with us, the most trusted source for HVAC information, is crucial”.
Your first step should be to print out this quality installation checklist using the button below. Refer to it often as you accept bids from contractors to install or service your HVAC system.
Here is what you need to know about high-quality installations as your new system is installed:Do not let anyone convince you that it is ok to replace either the indoor or the outdoor unit without replacing the other. Almost all new high efficiency central air conditioners and heat pumps require a matched system (indoor and outdoor units) to work properly. The outdoor compressor and the indoor coil work as a team and if they are mismatched it could shorten the life of both units, prevent the system from operating at optimal efficiency, and potentially void the manufacturer’s warranty.
The only way to accurately choose the size of HVAC equipment appropriate for your house is by having a professional contractor perform a mathematical calculation such as a Manual J that takes into account such details as how many windows your home has and what direction they face.
This is crucial because although you want enough power to cool/heat your home, bigger HVAC equipment is not necessarily better. An oversized system will cycle on and off too often, which can result in inconsistent temperatures in the home and higher energy bills at the end of the month. Also, because the system turns off more quickly than it should, humidity is not properly removed from the home and as you probably know, on a hot summer day it’s not pleasant to feel cool but damp in your home.
Don’t be embarrassed, but your ducts are probably leaking - - a recent Department of Energy study states: “Typical duct systems lose 25 to 40 percent of the energy put out by the central furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner.” This almost certainly means that your air conditioning equipment is working overtime to compensate for this loss. As far as comfort, improper duct work is also a major cause of hot and cold spots and can propagate indoor air problems such as dust and mold.
Insist that your contractor inspect your ductwork to ensure there are no design errors or kinks in flexible duct work, the ductwork has proper insulation (R-8 insulation is top-of-the-line for ducts), and that all the ducts and duct connectors are properly sealed with mastic and/or tape.
The Department of Energy says: “Duct repairs could be the most important energy improvement measure you can do.”
Insist that your contract use properly calibrated instrumentation to determine if your system is properly charged with refrigerant. Remember that there is a gaseous refrigerant that runs through your system from the outdoor compressor baring unit to the indoor air “coil” that circulates the air through the duct work. If there is too much, or not enough, refrigerant then the system will optimally exchange heat between your home and outside -- your system will underperform and the life of your system could be dramatically reduced.
Remember, Quality Installation is the #1 determinant of home comfort and HVAC efficiency…ensure that your home’s performance has a healthy prognosis!
Get A Manual JDiagnosis: Bigger HVAC equipment is not necessarily better. In fact, an over sized system will cycle on and off often, which results in a less comfortable home and higher energy bills. This often causes uneven temperatures in the home and, because the system turns off more quickly than it should, humidity is not properly removed from the home – on a hot summer day, feeling cool but damp in your home is not pleasant.
Prescription: Insist that your contractor perform a Manual J calculation. This is the best method for him to most properly decide what is the best size of equipment necessary for your home. Among other things, The Manual J calculation takes into account such details as how many windows your home has and what direction they face. A Manual J type calculation is a requirement for any “Quality Installation Certification”
ThermostatsProgrammable thermostats are one of the quickest and easiest ways to cut energy costs. You can save on your bill every time you are not at home.
Programmable thermostats save energy by turning down the cooling and heating system at night or at times when your home is typically unoccupied. This can be particularly effective if your home is unoccupied for large periods of the day, like while your family is at work and school.
All you need to do is adjust the temperature for the time you are away from home and while your family is asleep. In other words, raise it a few degrees in the summer and lower in the winter, at the time you don't necessarily need optimum comfort. The thermostat will then automatically control your HVAC equipment, while the system runs less.
Your heating or cooling will then automatically return to the optimum comfort level when you come home or wake up, at the settings you choose. It’s easy to set up, and your HVAC contractor should be able to help.
Oh! One more thing. Rebates are offered to homeowners through utility and public service companies. Check our Search for Rebates section to see if you qualify.
Duct Cleaning, Duct SealingDuct systems are used to distribute conditioned air throughout houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems. A typical house will lose nearly 20 - 40 percent of the air moving through its duct system due to leaks, punctures, and poor duct connections with the results being higher utility bills. Is it difficult keeping the house comfortable, seemingly forever resetting the thermostat? A duct system that is well-designed, properly sealed and maintained can make your home more comfortable, energy efficient, and safer.
What are some clues that your ducts are performing poorly?
- High utility bills in the summer and winter
- Difficulty heating and cooling rooms
- Stuffy, uncomfortable rooms
- Ductwork is located in an attic, crawlspace, or garage
- Tangled or kinked flex duct in your system
Proper Design: A duct system that is well designed, sealed, filtered and maintained can make your home more comfortable, energy efficient, and healthier.
The Benefits are
- Comfort: Sealed and insulated ducts help eliminate discomfort. Rooms are appropriately cooled in the summer and heated in the winter.
- Indoor Air Quality: Fumes from paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, and adhesives along with outdoor chemicals, insulation fibers, and dust can enter your duct system, triggering asthma and allergy problems. You can improve indoor air quality, reducing the risk of pollutants entering your ductwork and circulating through your home.
- Safety: Gas appliances use ventilation systems to expel the release of combustion gases (like carbon monoxide) from the house. Poor ventilation in appliances such as furnaces, water heaters and clothes dryers along with leaky ductwork in your heating and cooling system may cause “back-drafting”. This is where gases are drawn back into the living area, not to the outdoors.
- Save Money: As we said, a typical home can lose as much as 20-40 percent of conditioned air. Increased efficiency, lower energy bills, and often paying for its self in energy savings are just one more reason to seal and insulate ducts. Furthermore, future replacement of new heating and cooling equipment, with a well-designed and sealed duct system may prepare you to downsize to a smaller, less costly system that provides better dehumidification
- Protect the Environment: Most power plants provide our homes with energy from the use of fossil fuels. Power plants add to smog, acid rain, and global warming. As you know, the less energy used in our homes, the less pollution generated. Sealing ducts reduces the amount of energy required to comfortably heat or cool your home, you can help reduce the amount of air pollution generated.
The EPA recommends using a professional contractor for duct improvements. Many contractors who install HVAC systems also repair ductwork. Here's a Checklist: Improvements your contractor should make to your duct system.
- Use diagnostic equipment to measure and locate leaks.
- Damaged, poorly connected or improperly sized ducts should be repaired or replaced .
- Tangled or crushed flex duct should be straightened out.
- Use tape, mastic, or an aerosol-based sealant at connection, joints and seams.
- Grills and registers should be tightly sealed.
- Attics and crawl spaces are unconditioned areas. Ducts there should be insulated with an R-value of 6 to 8.
- Any duct system improvements should include a new filter.
- An airflow test should be performed after sealing your ducts.
- A Combustion Safety Test will ensure gas or oil-burning appliances are not backdrafting.
ZoningZoning systems help you control the heating and cooling comfort in your home where you want it and when you want it. Using this type of system, you have the control of desired temperatures in the rooms you want. No more over-cooling unoccupied areas in order to keep another cool. Comfort, energy-efficiency and at the flip of a switch too. Isn’t that that way to enjoy the temperature you want in every room?
Homes generally have one centrally located thermostat. When that location's temperature changes, the HVAC system will kick in. Your ductwork uses dampers in a set and locked position to control air flow to each room. Like the dual climate control in your car, complete home zoning combine these two features and puts control in the hand of the room occupant. Each room has its own thermostat controlling damper positions, so you can have the heat higher in some rooms than in others, thus maintaining individual comfort.
Call your local contractor to find out more
Routine MaintenanceRoutine Maintenance Checklist:
- Having a contractor in for annual preseason checkups helps keep air conditioning and heating systems at peak performances. Maintaining equipment prevents unnecessary problems and unwanted costs. Contractors are busy during peak seasons. Consider having them check cooling systems in the spring and heating systems in the fall, usually during daylight saving months.
- Typical maintenance check lists include;
- Thermostat settings ensure cooling and heating operations keep you comfortable when you’re home and cuts energy use when you’re not
- Electrical connections should be tightened. Voltages and currents on motors should be measured. Poorly maintained electrical connections cause unsafe operation of your system while reducing the life of all components.
- Lubricate moving parts. Friction causes additional resistance in motors and increases the amount of electricity used.
- Inspect the condensate drain in central AC units, furnaces and heat pumps (for cooling modes). Plugged drains cause overflows and water damage, affecting indoor humidity levels.
- Controls ensure safe and proper operation. Check that the system cycles (starts, operates, and shuts off), properly.
- Cooling Specific:
- Evaporator and condenser air coils. Dusty, dirty coils reduce a system's ability to cool your home. They cause the system to run longer, raising energy costs while stressing the life of the equipment.
- Check and adjust the refrigerant level of your central air conditioner. Too much or too little refrigerant is another symptom of a less efficient, energy increasing and life reducing system.
- Clean and adjust blower component. This provides proper airflow for greater comfort. Airflow problems cause system reduction up to 15 percent.
- Heating Specific:
- Check gas and oil connections. . Improper connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems.
- Gas pressure. Natural gas contains approximately 5% moisture. This can cause the diaphragm in pressure regulators to freeze in some winter climates. Rust preventing paint can help prevent leaks at joints.
- Burner combustion and heat exchanger. Dirty burners or a cracked heat exchanger causes improper operation. Either will cause equipment malfunction.
- Actions To Do Yourself :
- Inspect, clean and change air filters. Your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump filters should be maintained at least once a month. Your contractor can show you how to do this. Good filtration can keep energy costs lower and aide in the longevity of your equipment.
Indoor Air QualityThe Environmental Protection Agency lists Indoor Air Quality among the top 5 risks to human health, probably because indoor air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air.
While homeowners can’t see the majority of indoor air contaminants, every cubic foot of air breathed carries a mixture of millions of microscopic particles such as pollen, mold spores and dust mite debris. In small concentrations, these particles and gasses may cause discomfort in the home. In significant concentrations, they can cause sickness as these are among the most troublesome triggers of such ailments as asthma and allergies.
Indoor Air Quality add-ons for your air conditioning and heating system can make your home a dramatically healthier place for you and your family by filtering the air, controlling humidity, and cycling fresh outdoor air into the home. These add-ons can help reduce allergies, prevent asthma, and even boost productivity.
Indoor Air Quality Can Be Maintained By Your HVAC In Four Ways:Reduction:
Filter or neutralize particulates found in indoor air. Air cleaners installed just ahead of the heating and cooling equipment remove a portion of airborne pollutants each time air is pulled into the return air ducts.
Replace a portion of the indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This process occurs naturally in all homes, but at different rates depending on the structure's tightness. Opening windows is one way to increase the pace of air exchange, although it’s an energy-wasting solution. Energy-efficient ERV and HRV ventilation systems exchange indoor air for outdoor air while recovering most of the energy used to heat or cool the air being exhausted. Controlling fresh air entering the home allows it to be conditioned by an efficient air cleaner, dehumidifier and UV Treatment system prior to passing through the home’s furnace or air conditioner.
Proper humidification levels are equally important in both hot and cold environments. This is needed to control relative humidity levels in the home, minimizing unhealthy airborne pollutants. Too little humidity leaves the body vulnerable to infections, and can cause damage to the home’s wood furnishings. Inversely, too much humidity creates ideal breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and dust mites.
Eliminate air pollutants before they enter the home. For example, by not allowing people to smoke or have pets in the home, homeowners practice source control. Such examples are not always practical. Installing Ultra-Violet Treatment Systems help stop the problem before they start. By sterilizing pathogens with UV Treatment Systems, homeowners deter such harmful contaminants as mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses from forming.
Control HumidityHumidification and Dehumidification solutions can be used in new construction, retrofit or add-on projects. Lack of humidity control can keep a home damp and sticky, while excessive dryness can crack woodwork and antiques, or create static electricity or dry skin. Get educated on whole home humidifiers and dehumidifiers, discuss options with a professional contractor and ultimately choose the right product for your home or project.
Humidifiers operate by the principle that vapor is created when warm dry air is blown over a water-soaked area or through evaporated steam from heat water. As the vapor or steam circulates, the relative humidity rises in the living area. The optimal range for annual indoor relative humidity is 35% during the heating season, and 40-60% during the cooling season, according to ASHRAE standards. To understand the benefits of moisture control, one must first understand the terms and science behind this technology.
The amount of moisture present at a given temperature versus the maximum amount of humidity the air is capable of holding at that same temperature. If relative humidity is 55% at a given temperature, the air is 55% saturated with water.
What the air feels like - how hot the heat-humidity combination makes it feel:
The temperature at which moisture in the air will condense into water droplets. To prevent condensation, dew point must be below the temperature of the coldest surface in the house. As the temperature of home surfaces drops below dew point, condensation forms.
Cold air holds less moisture than warm air. Without adequate humidification, the natural infiltration of cold, dry, outside air into a home will lower the indoor relative humidity far below the comfort level. Conversely, the natural infiltration of hot, moist, outdoor air into a home will increase the indoor relative humidity far above the comfort level. Too little humidity can damage wooden assets in the home, including hardwood floors, staircases, furniture, and musical instruments. Too much humidity can leave you feeling sticky or damp and create the opportunity for mold and fungal growth.
Home Sealing/InsulationOne of the most cost effective ways to improve energy efficiency and comfort in your home is to seal and insulate the shell. Also known as the envelope, sealing and insulating the outer walls, doors, windows, ceiling and floors, can save an estimated 20% on heating and cooling bills.
Home Sealing and Insulation Recommendations:
- HVAC contractors use special diagnostic tools that help pinpoint hidden air leaks in your home to be sealed.
- Insulation keeps the heat in during the winter months and out in the summer. HVAC contractors can often advise you how much insulation is enough.
- Seal air leaks throughout the home to stop drafts.
- Choose high-efficiency windows when replacing windows.
- Once your envelope is sealed, have a qualified technician check your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) for proper ventilation.
Insulation keeps the heat where you want it. Common types of insulation are fiberglass, which comes in batt or blown form, cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. A radiant barrier is a reflective insulation, another energy saving insulating product for hot, sunny climates.
- Comfort and lower energy bills are the end result when insulation, along with home sealing, are correctly installed.
- Insulation is labeled by R-values. The R stands for resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value the more the heat it can resist. Different R-values are recommended throughout the country for basements, walls, attics, and crawlspaces. Again, it’s important to seal your house before insulating. Once the Insulation is installed it may hide leaks and make them less accessible. Ensure that you get the best performance and savings from new insulation.
- Everywhere in the country, attics require the highest R-values in your house. To get the biggest savings, this is the easiest place to add insulation. Here’s a tip to see if you have enough insulation in your attic. Is your insulation level with or below the attic floor joists? If so, you probably need to add more insulation. If you own an electric furnace, live in the hottest or coldest climates, the R-values recommended are R-49. Other locations it’s R-38 or about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type.
- Many HVAC contractors are capable of helping you properly insulate your home.
Be Efficient: Save Money & the Environment
Click here to learn how AirConditioningLoans.com
can save you money while saving the environment.
Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Air Conditioner Compressor
|Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Air Flows & Leaks||Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Temperature & the Thermostat|
|Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Saving Energy in the Kitchen||Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Reading the Meter|
|Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Ceiling Fans||Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Energy Star Appliances|
|Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Water Heater||Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Insulation|
|Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Pools & Hot Tubs||Open House: Energy Saving Tips - Water Conservation|
|Open House: Energy Saving Tips - The Laundry Room|