Are some of your rooms too hot or too cold? Does your heating and cooling system need frequent maintenance? Are your energy bills going up? Is your heating and cooling equipment more than 10 years old? These are all signs that when you remodel your home, you should consider upgrading your heating and cooling to more efficient systems.
According to EnergyStar.gov, the average US family spends $2,200 a year on energy costs with more than half of that going to heating and cooling. Installing and properly maintaining energy efficient systems can cut down those bills and is better for the environment.
Inadequate air sealing and insulation can lead to hot or cold spaces in your home and your system will have to work harder to keep up. Consider having an insulation specialist do an energy check of your home. The exterior of your home– the exterior walls, ceilings, and floors– is considered the “envelope” of your home. Insulating and sealing the envelope can save you as much as 20% on your household energy bills.
Many new homes are being built with spray foam insulation, but it’s also the perfect solution for existing homes because it can be installed with little disruption. What is spray foam insulation? It’s been around since 1986. It seals walls, ceilings, floors and other open cavities against air movement. There are two types of foam insulation: open cell and closed cell. Open cell is less expensive than closed cell. It moves with the house, if your home is one of those that tends to settle. Closed cell is more commonly used in commercial buildings and is more expensive than open cell. It is very durable and it is waterproof.
The biggest savings and kind of the low-hanging fruit of insulation can come from using spray foam insulation in your attic. Heat rises, so a well-insulated attic will help keep your home cool in the summer and prevent heat from escaping during the winter.
Not all spray foam insulations are equal or equally effective, so do your research. Responsible installers and contractors will know which insulations have off-gasses or deteriorate over time.
The age and condition of your heating and cooling equipment have a lot to do with their efficiency. If your current systems are more than 10 years old then there have been much more efficient models that have hit the market since then. In northern climates, having an efficient heating system is going to be your biggest cost-saver; in the south, that will come from the cooling system.
Modern, efficient systems are also better for the environment. Energy Star says that the average home is responsible for twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as your average car.
Energy Star rates all household appliances for their efficiency and environmental impact. It’s a government-backed program that should be considered a reliable source for data. Choosing highly rated products will help you save money and minimize your carbon footprint. The Energy Star website has tons of information on their website on HVAC equipment and also details regarding a rebate that is active through 12/31/2031. Ask your HVAC contractor what the options are and how the rebate process works.
Maintaining your new, efficient home appliances like your heating and air conditioning units is key to maintaining their energy efficiency.
At minimum, change your air filter at least every three months. But check the air filter monthly, especially during heavy-use months. A clogged air filter makes your systems work harder and lowers the efficiency. You’ll see higher bills, and your systems won’t last as long if you allow dirty filters to linger.
A smart thermostat can also improve your energy efficiency. They’re wifi enabled and are controlled by your phone or another wifi enabled device. Many of them have programmable modes that help you find ways to save money on your energy bills. The most popular one, the Nest thermostat, powered by Google, awards you “leafs” for choosing the most efficient temperatures at which to heat and cool your home.
Tune up your equipment yearly. This can be done by an experienced professional, but can also be a DIY experience if you do your research. Things that should be performed include:
- Cleaning the A/C evaporator and condensing coils
- Lubricating all moving parts
- Checking your A/C refrigerant levels and adding more if necessary
- Cleaning blower components
- Check your system’s condensate drain and unplug if necessary
- Change your filter per the manufacturers recommendations
Installing and maintaining energy efficient heating and cooling systems will not only save you money, but will also help you do your part for the environment.