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If you’ve noticed that your energy bills have increased lately, you may be wondering if your HVAC system is to blame. You know that having an energy efficient HVAC system can impact how much power you consume but what exactly does that mean?
If you’ve found yourself navigating the world of energy efficiency and HVAC equipment, you probably have some questions. In this article, we’ll talk about everything from efficient heating and cooling systems to how proper maintenance can impact your overall efficiency.
What Does HVAC Mean?
HVAC is a simple acronym that stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It contains all of the parts that allow you to heat and cool your home efficiently. Typically, these parts are all integrated and controlled through one interface, the thermostat.
A complete HVAC unit has a heating element, a cooling system, and ventilation. However, most modern HVAC units also include an air filter and cleaning unit as well to ensure adequate air quality and safety.
Why Bother With HVAC Efficiency?
When it comes to residential energy expenditures, heating and cooling make up about half of all energy use. The actual amount will, of course, vary slightly from one household to the next, but the bottom line remains. Heating and cooling your home uses more energy than anything else you do.
Reducing the amount of energy you consume is a significant step towards helping nurture our environment. However, you’ll find that increasing your home’s energy efficiency has many other benefits that you might not be expecting.
Regardless of whether or not you support the environmental claims of using less energy, there is at least one reason we can all get behind improving our HVAC efficiency. By using less power to heat and cool your home, you will, in turn, spend less money.
We all love to save money on our bills, but it’s essential to realize energy efficiency saves more than that. Increasing the effectiveness of your heating and cooling systems will save you a much more significant amount of money by maximizing the longevity of your HVAC unit.
If some of the rooms in your home never seem to be comfortable, it is likely that your HVAC system is working inefficiently. Any sealing or insulation problems will make your HVAC system work harder than necessary to heat and cool your home.
Investing in changes to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system will enhance the comfort of your home overall. Remember, your HVAC system incorporates more than just the heating and cooling systems. Working on the entire system will guarantee that your rooms will be more comfortable year round.
What Is Energy Efficient HVAC
At this point, it’s likely that you’re starting to appreciate the idea of energy efficient HVAC. But what exactly is it?
Simply put, energy efficient HVAC means having a system in place that will keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer without sacrificing excessive power. When you have an energy efficient system in place, you will not be sacrificing the environment or your hard earned money.
HVAC efficiency encompasses much more than what type of HVAC equipment your house has. Indeed, installing Energy Star qualified heating and cooling equipment is an excellent step in the right direction. However, to achieve maximum efficiency with any HVAC system, you must also ensure that you have no other issues.
How to Create and Maintain an Energy Efficient HVAC System
No matter whether you’ve lived in your home for years or you’re just moving in, the same guidelines will improve your HVAC system.
To begin, look at the installation of your HVAC system. According to Energy Star, a significant percentage of heating and cooling systems suffer from an incorrect installion. Improper installment can account for a 30 percent reduction in efficiency. You absolutely cannot expect to achieve maximum comfort or savings with such a drastic decrease.
When checking that your unit is installed properly look at four indicators. Sizing, ductwork, refrigerant and airflow each directly impact how well your HVAC will work. Make sure that the unit you have is the right size. Check ducts to make sure there are no air leaks. Finally, check that the airflow rate and refrigerant match the manufacturer recommendations.
If your home has been through any significant remodels, your current HVAC system may be the wrong size for your space. When considering replacement, you should carefully evaluate what size unit to install. Equipment that is too big or too small will be nothing but an energy waster.
If your unit is the wrong size for your home, you may want to consider replacing it with a more appropriately sized model.
When you check the air ducts in your home take meticulous notes of any leaks you find. By properly sealing and insulating your air ducts, you will see an immediate improvement of your HVAC system. In fact, properly sealed and covered air ducts can improve HVAC efficiency by a whopping 20 percent.
In addition to improving your HVAC efficiency, adequately sealed ducts can lead to improved air quality and safety. Take note; clogged air ducts can also cause issues regarding how well your heating and cooling systems work.
Airflow and Refrigerant
Both airflow and refrigerant specification vary from unit to unit. If you have experience with these types of systems, you may be able to troubleshoot these potential problems. However, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help if you feel out of your scope of understanding. These two particular categories can be more challenging to address than the previous two.
Like many large systems, HVAC equipment requires regular maintenance. Be sure to tune up your unit yearly to improve efficiency and promote longevity.
In addition to regular tune-ups, be sure to check and change your air filter at least every three months. An air filter caked in dust will reduce efficiency and can lead to dust build-up in your ducts. Regularly changing the air filter will prevent these problems and keep your equipment up and running for a much longer time.
Another crucial maintenance job is keeping your air conditioning coils clean. These coils are in your outdoor unit. As the fan pulls warm air over the coils to cool it for your home, dirt and debris are also pulled in. Regularly cleaning this part of the equipment will ensure that your unit performs well and has a longer lifespan.
You may not think about your thermostat very often or at all, but it can be an incredibly powerful tool when you’re building your energy efficient HVAC. Programmable thermostats can give keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently with little to no input from you.
These surprisingly sophisticated devices adjust the temperature in your home based on pre-programmed settings. Typically these settings will keep your home warmer in the summer and colder in the winter. Additionally, the thermostat will automatically raise or lower the temperature during periods of time that you are not at home.
Putting together an energy efficient heating and cooling system can seem daunting. But, there are steps we can take every day to make sure that our HVAC system keeps our home comfortable without sacrificing precious energy.
Turn Off Electronics
It may seem evident that turning off electronics when you aren’t using them will save energy. However, it can also improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
When turned on and in use, electronics such as computers or game systems put off a noticeable amount of heat. By turning these devices off when not in use, you will reduce the overall temperature in your home.
Seal Doors and Windows
If outdoor air creeps into your home through your doors or windows, your HVAC unit will have to work harder to compensate. You can prevent this inefficiency by ensuring that your doors and windows are properly sealed. Remember, you should not feel air creeping in and creating drafts in your home.
Putting It All Together
Even if you are a complete HVAC novice, you should now be able to tell whether or not your heating and cooling systems are working efficiently. By following through with the simple guidelines in this article, you will quickly be on your way to decreasing your energy usage. And as your energy usage falls, so will your energy bills.
Always remember to use common sense safety protocol when troubleshooting any home improvement project. And, don’t be afraid to consult with professionals if you feel stumped by a problem. As a final note, be sure to check with your local authorities for any permits that you may need to acquire before beginning your project.
With a little patience and elbow grease, you can have an energy efficient HVAC system that will save you money, maximize your comfort level, and foster a healthy environment.