The house is a system. You save money and improve performance when you install systems and appliances that are the right size. Over-sizing equipment worsens performance and increases costs. The most effective strategy is to first target your home’s envelope— walls, attic, windows, and doors. Then improve the energy efficiency of systems, such as heating, cooling, lighting and appliances.
1. Make sure the attic and walls are well insulated
Effective insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of the house in winter or into the house in summer, so less energy is required to heat or cool your home. If your house has no wall insulation, blown-in insulation can greatly improve your comfort and save enough energy to be very cost-effective.
2. Upgrade or replace windows.
If your windows are old and leaky, it may be time to replace them with energy-efficient models or boost their efficiency with weather-stripping and storm windows. According to www.EnergyStar.gov, replacing windows will save 7 to 24 percent of your heating and air-conditioning bills, but the larger savings would be associated with replacing single-glazed windows.
3. Replace an older furnace with a High Efficiency System.
If your furnace was built before 1992 and has a standing pilot, it probably wastes 35 percent of the fuel it uses, and it is probably near the end of its service life. In this case, in all but the warmest climates, The American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recommends early replacement with a condensing furnace with annual efficiency of at least 90 percent. This type of furnace wastes no more than 10 percent and as little as 2% of the natural gas you buy, and may save you as much as 35 percent on your heating bill.
If your furnace was installed after 1991, it probably has an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of 80 percent, so the savings from replacement is smaller, but would be at least 11 percent if the unit is working perfectly. A reputable HVAC Service company will be able to help you determine the AFUE of your present system.
4. Replace an older air conditioner with a high efficiency system.
If your air conditioning system is 17 years old, it has made it past the average life expectancy and could be nearing the end of its service life. New systems today can achieve savings upwards of 50% with 2-speed compressor and variable speed fan technology. A reputable HVAC Service company will help you define your needs to achieve the comfort level you deserve.
5. Improve the efficiency of your hot water system.
First, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). Second, insulate your hot water lines so they don’t cool off as quickly between uses. Third, use low-flow fixtures for showers and baths. While storage water heater standards were raised in 2001, it was probably not enough to justify throwing out an existing water heater that is working well.
Advanced contractors are offering tankless water heaters that heat water only when you need it. You can enjoy more than 40% energy savings, and a typical life span of 20 years with a Rinnai Tankless Water Heater. You also never run out of hot water and gain additional space in your heating closet.
6. Proper sizing and sealing of the air ducting system.
Many homes have leaky ductwork and poor air flow, resulting in stuffy and uncomfortable rooms — regardless of the thermostat setting. A reputable HVAC Service company may recommend sealing your home’s ducts with mastic, metal tape or spray-on sealant, and balancing the duct system to optimize air flow to all rooms. Insulating ductwork in attics, crawlspaces, and some basements can also help to ensure that your home will be more comfortable.
7. Install high efficient filtration.
Having a comfortable home goes far beyond a temperature setting. The quality of the air inside your house greatly affects your comfort and health. Advanced products like air purifiers, high efficiency filtration, and whole house humidifiers help reduce concentrations of allergens and other contaminants in the air and balance humidity levels that greatly improve the comfort level of your home.
8. Install a programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs and improve your overall comfort level.
9. Tune up your heating and cooling equipment annually.
Maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a reputable HVAC Service company perform annual pre-season check-ups. Try to schedule these check-ups for the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall.