According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), half of an average household’s energy bills (about $2,200) are spent on heating and cooling. Thus, there’s lots of room to save by investing in Energy Star-rated equipment. High-efficiency systems can save you money and improve comfort, moisture control, and indoor air quality, but only if used properly. Here, we’ll look at ways to get more savings out of an Energy Star heating and cooling system.
Install the Right Equipment for Your Home
If you have a 10- to 15-year-old HVAC system with problems, it’s not enough to say you want a more efficient one. There are many options and considerations. Climate and usage are among the most important factors when considering new heating or cooling equipment.
Energy Star cooling devices offer the most savings in hotter regions. Energy Star heating equipment will save you more in colder regions (including high-AFUE furnaces and boilers and higher-SEER central air conditioners). You can save in a moderate climate with a heat pump, which provides heating and cooling; depending on the model, it will transfer heat to or from the air or ground.
Maintain Your Heating and Cooling System
A high-efficiency heating and cooling system will not run efficiently if you neglect to maintain it. Schedule professional service every spring and fall, but don’t wait until a technician arrives to care for your system. The filter should be changed regularly so dust and dirt won’t build up. When a contractor inspects your system, they should provide a tune-up that includes:
- Setting and calibrating the thermostat
- Measuring voltage and current on motors
- Tightening electrical connections
- Lubricating moving parts
- Inspecting the condensate drain
- Testing system controls
- Checking flue piping, gas/oil connections, gas pressure, and heat exchanger integrity (for heating systems)
- Cleaning indoor and outdoor coils, checking refrigerant charge, and cleaning/adjusting blower components (for cooling systems).
Learn How to Use a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can cut energy costs a bit if you use it properly. Most ideal for people who are often away from home for predictable periods, these thermostats come in different models. Some are best if you keep a regular weekday schedule and use a different schedule for the weekends, while others are more flexible for those whose daily schedule changes often. You can get your thermostat to work better, and get more out of your Energy Star heating and cooling system, by:
- Installing the thermostat away from heating appliances, registers, lighting, fireplaces, or direct sunlight.
- Keeping the energy-saving temperatures set when people aren’t home or they’re asleep.
- Using the “hold” button to maintain a constant temperature while away or on vacation.
- Changing the batteries annually, so the unit is always responsive and accurate.
- Installing programmable thermostats for each zone to maximize comfort and efficiency throughout your home.
Seal and Insulate Your Home
Leaks in air ducts can lose 20% or more of the air volume in the system. Holes, tears, and poor connections can significantly reduce efficiency and increase your bills. To address air leakage, ducts can be insulated with foil tape or mastic sealant. Also, make sure connections at vents and registers are well-sealed. A technician can provide a thorough assessment to determine what repairs or improvements can be made.
Drafty windows and doors and air leaks through ceilings, floors, and outer walls can reduce efficiency as well. Hire a contractor to find hidden air leaks, especially in attics, basements, and crawlspaces. Fortunately, these improvements can help save up to 20% on annual heating and cooling costs:
- Add fiberglass, cellulose, foam board, or spray foam insulation (the higher the R-value the more resistant to heat flow it is).
- Install a fresh air ventilation system (if your home is sealed too tight).
- Install Energy Star-qualified windows (with multiple panes, gas fillings, Low-E coatings, and insulating frame materials).
Make Sure the System Is Properly Installed
If a heating and cooling system isn’t properly installed, efficiency can be reduced by up to 30%.1 Avoiding this scenario starts with sizing equipment for your home. If it’s too large or too small, comfort and efficiency will be limited. The system will also be stressed, shortening its life. A technician will perform a load calculation before selecting your options to avoid these issues. They’ll also ensure refrigerant is properly charged and take steps to test and optimize airflow.
Consult with a Reputable Local Contractor
Find a qualified contractor whether you’ve decided to install a new heating or cooling equipment, want to schedule maintenance, or need a repair or duct sealing. The company and technician must be licensed and insured to do this work and perform an on-site inspection before proceeding. Look for professionals with several years of experience, who can provide examples of their quality work, and document all installation procedures, sizing calculations, and records of testing or measurements. Always get the agreement in writing and sign it before the contractor starts any work.
Call Air Stars to Get the Most Out of Your Energy Star Heating and Cooling System
Air Stars provides furnace, AC, and heat pump installation, replacement, and repair in the Portland area. Our licensed technicians are dedicated to ensuring your comfort, safety, and satisfaction. Coupons and special offers are available to help you save upfront while installing high-efficiency products helps our customers in the Willamette Valley reduce long-term costs. Continue browsing to learn more about our heating and cooling services or schedule an appointment by booking online or calling 503-455-7311.