Energy Saving Tips for Central Heating and Cooling Systems

As much as half of the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling, so when it comes to saving on your utility bills, a great place to start is by looking at ways to reduce energy demand from your heating and cooling system.

In addition to replacing old, inefficient equipment before it fails, Perry provides the following tips, tools and calculators to help you make energy saving solutions.

Energy Saving Tips for Central Heating and Cooling Systems

Postby Greg » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:15 pm

When it comes to saving on your utility bills, a great place to start is learning the most you can about your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. That’s why it’s critical to look for opportunities to improve the efficiency of these systems.

Here are a few strategies homeowners can consider:

1. Replace old or failing mechanical equipment. If your heating or cooling equipment is more than 10 years old, needs expensive repairs, or no longer keeps you comfortable, it may be time to replace it.

When replacing, look for performance certified equipment, which guarantees you that the manufacturers’ claims of energy efficiency performance are accurate. You can search the free AHRI Directory of Certified Product Performance to find certified HVAC equipment and compare the efficiency ratings of different models.

When replacing cooling and heating systems, it is important to understand how their energy efficiency is determined. Learn about SEER as an energy efficiency rating for central air conditioning and air source heat pump systems.

Learn more about Energy Factor (EF) and how it can be used to compare the energy efficiency of models of residential water heaters. Learn how the Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating can used to compare the efficiency of models of furnaces and boilers.

2. Work with a qualified installer. Make sure that you use a NATE-certified technician who will properly match, properly size and properly install the equipment in your home. Your contractor should determine the right size for your equipment using the ACCA/ANSI Manual J sizing calculation tool, which considers specific attributes about your home.

It is important that the duct work be installed by a qualified HVAC technician. Otherwise, poorly installed duct work can result in poor system performance and higher than expected utility bills. A qualified technician will size the duct system according to ACCA Manual D calculation procedures (or substantially equivalent).

3. Properly seal and insulate. Sealing and insulating can reduce your total energy use by more than 20 percent. Focus first on ducts that run through unconditioned space such as your garage or attic, and seal ducts with mastic or foil-backed tape. After sealing, insulate the ducts by wrapping them in insulation.

Make sure your home has adequate insulation. A well-insulated home helps reduce the load on your HVAC system. The DOE recommends minimum insulation levels for each part of the home, based on your climate. This information can be found on the ENERGY STAR Web site.

4. Install a programmable thermostat. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a programmable thermostat can save you about $150 a year in energy costs if it is properly used. It is recommended for people who are away from home during set times of the day during the week.

To increase your energy savings, the EPA recommends that you:

* Keep the thermostat set at energy-saving temperatures for long periods of time, such as during the day when no one is home and through the night.
* Resist the urge to override the pre-programmed settings. Every time you do, you use more energy and may end up paying more on your energy bill.
* Set the “hold” button at a constant energy-saving temperature when going away for the weekend or on vacation.
* Install your thermostat away from heating or cooling registers, appliances, lighting, doorways, skylights, and windows, and areas that receive direct sunlight or drafts. Interior walls are best.
* If you have a heat pump, you may need a special programmable thermostat to maximize your energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or contractor for the details before selecting your thermostat.

5. Be sure to have your equipment regularly maintained.
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