As the weather turns chilly, improve your home’s comfort, and save energy and money all while doing a good thing for the environment. By using energy efficiently at home, you not only lower your energy bills, but prevent air pollution too. Here are ways to save, offered by the ENERGY STAR program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
1. Know the Facts – The average family spends $1,500 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that spent on heating and cooling. Energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, installed alongside a well-sealed duct system, can save as much as 20 percent on annual energy costs.
2. Keep it Clean – A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure. Clean or change the air filter in your heating and cooling system regularly. Also, have your equipment checked seasonally to make sure it’s operating efficiently and safely – check-ups can identify problems early. Dirt and neglect are the #1 causes of system failure.
3. Bundle Up – Hidden gaps and cracks in a home can add up to as much airflow as an open window. When heat escapes, your system must work harder and you use more energy. Home Sealing can improve your home “envelope” – the outer walls, ceiling, windows and floors — and
can save up to 10 percent in energy costs. Start by sealing air leaks and adding insulation, while paying special attention to your attic and basement, where the biggest gaps and cracks are often found. If replacing windows, choose ENERGY STAR qualified ones.
4. Tighten Your Ducts – If you have a forced air furnace or heat pump, then a duct system is responsible for circulating warm air throughout your home. Leaky ducts can reduce your system’s overall efficiency by 20 percent, causing your equipment to work harder than necessary to keep you comfortable. Ask your HVAC contractor about improving your ducts.
5. Don’t Oversize – When replacing old equipment, make sure your new equipment is properly sized for your home. An oversized system will cost more to buy and operate and will cycle on and off too frequently, reducing your comfort and leading to early system failures and repair costs. Correct sizing will ensure that your equipment works efficiently. Make sure your HVAC contractor uses Manual J or an equivalent sizing tool to determine what’s right for your home.
6. Consult a Professional – Find an experienced, licensed contractor before embarking on any heating and cooling overhaul. Visit http://www.natex.orq to find a contractor whose technicians are certified by NATE (North American Technician Excellence), the leading industry-supported testing and certification program.
7. Shop Smart – If your heating equipment has not been regularly maintained and is 15 years or older, it’s probably time for a more efficient replacement. Ask for an ENERGY STAR when buying the following equipment:
- Furnaces – Old furnaces cost more to operate per year than new, ENERGY STAR qualified models that are 15 percent more efficient than standard models.
- Boilers – An ENERGY STAR qualified boiler uses features like electric ignition and new combustion technologies that extract more heat from the same amount of fuel, to be seven percent more energy-efficient.
- Heat Pumps – When installed in a home with a well-sealed envelope, heat pumps provide great value and comfort for your energy dollar. An ENERGY STAR qualified geothermal heat pump is 30 percent more efficient than comparable new equipment and can save you as much as $400 annually. A qualified electric heat pump is 20 percent more efficient.
- Programmable Thermostats – Regulate your home’s temperature with four programmable settings and you can save about $100 annually on your energy bills.
Source: ENERGY STAR
When should you repair an aging HVAC unit and when should you replace? Great question!
According to the National Association of Home Builder’s Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components, residential furnaces last 15-20 years. Energy Star believes a replacement is necessary if a heat pump or a/c is more than ten years old, a furnace is more than fifteen years old, equipment needs frequent repairs, energy bills are going up, a home has humidity problems, a home has excessive dust, or the heating and cooling system is noisy. Something else to keep in mind is that HVAC companies should take sizing of the unit keeping different housing/environmental issues in mind. However, precise life expectancy is difficult to pinpoint due to numerous factors such as climate, usage, maintenance, rating and more.
Consider replacement if the equipment is beyond 3/4 of the life expectancy and repairs will cost more than a third of replacement. For example: if your furnace is 15 years old and you’re facing a $750 repair, you should probably replace the unit. Keep in mind that you can also take this opportunity to improve your home comfort and lower your utility bill. In other words, don’t just settle with a single-stage 80% efficient furnace and be done with it – consider things like multiple staging, 95% efficiency and variable speed blowers to maximize your savings and comfort.
While there may never be a singular answer on when it is time to replace an HVAC unit instead of repair it, the decision should always come down to HVAC contractors doing their best work. In the end it should be the company, not the equipment that you invest your dollars in.
Thanks to ACHR News for the great information in this blog post.
Warranties give most of us peace of mind when making a big purchase like a car, a home – even on an air conditioner. Let’s face it, your HVAC system is no small investment. But – same as a warranty on your car – lack of maintenance could is one major factor that could jeopardize your warranty. If you don’t have documentation that your system has been maintained according to manufacturer’s requirements, your necessary repairs may not be covered. This is especially true regarding home and extended warranties.
Another factor are parts ordered from the internet. Don’t do it! Only order parts and have them installed through a licensed contractor. Saving a few dollars on a part may void the entire warranty.
Lastly – keep a proof of purchase near the owners manual and warranty information so you can’t misplace it. Proof of purchase may be required if your system needs a repair done under warranty, and your current service provider did not install the job. Keep in mind, new systems must be installed by a licensed HVAC contractor – or the warranty for the entire system could also be null and void.
We are always hear for any questions you have. Before altering anything on your system, give us a call at 770-253-2665 – we can help!
Preventative maintenance for your air conditioner is important. Inspecting the system to check for problems before they grow into major air conditioner malfunctions can save hundreds of dollars and periodic preventative maintenance for your air conditioner is a great way to accomplish that. Semi-annual preventative maintenance, or annual preventative maintenance, for your air conditioner by Progressive Heating & Air can go a long way in ensuring the effective operation of your air conditioner.
Progressive Heating & Air’s Preventative Maintenance Program will keep your air conditioner running at its peak performance and efficiency.
Inadequate preventative maintenance for your air conditioner is one of the chief causes of air conditioner malfunctions, poor performance and inefficiency. Like an automobile needs inexpensive periodic preventative maintenance to keep it running and to avoid costly repairs, your air conditioner requires periodic preventative maintenance. Neglecting preventative maintenance for your air conditioner may lead to a steady decline in the air conditioner’s performance as well as increased energy consumption and costs. It is also important to point out that maintenance is required to keep your equipments warranties in good standing.
For more information about our service and what it covers, go here.
Give us a call, or schedule an appointment for maintenance here.
When you think of taking care of an aging parent or friend, the first thing that may come to mind is helping with meals, errands, doctors visits, etc. Those that have stepped into the shoes of being a caretaker understand that there is a lot more to it – you take on the responsibility of home maintenance and repairs – and specifically, the air conditioning system.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 400 Americans die each year to heat related conditions, and nearly half f them are elderly. They are at greater risk for heat stress or stroke risk due to several factors.
- Their bodies do not adjust as easily to sudden changes in temperature.
- They are more likely to have medical conditions such as heart, lung and kidney disease. Other medical issues that increase their risk are high blood pressure and diabetes.
- They may take medications that render them more susceptible to the heat. Some medications are known to inhibit perspiration which leaves them even more vulnerable in hot weather.
- Age related dementia – they may simply forget to turn on the air conditioning, or may not realize if it is not functioning properly.
- Isolation – some may not have friends or family members who check in on them regularly.
- Cost – being on fixed incomes, some seniors may be reluctant to use the air conditioning, believing that the use of electric fans will be sufficient – and they are not. While possibly providing a breeze, they do nothing to eliminate the extreme humidity we face in Georgia.
The fact is, heat related illness and deaths are 100% preventable; and according to the CDC, air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat related illness and death. So – making sure air conditioning systems are in good working order before the summer sets in order should be a top priority.
Bosch is rolling out a brand new program, called ‘ABC Contractors’, and we are really excited to be a part of it! Below is some information on the Bosch Experience Center, located close to us in Serenbe:
Serenbe is the creation of Atlanta restaurateurs Steve and Marie Nygren, who bought the first 60 acres of land that was the beginning of Serenbe back in 1991. The weekend visits became a full time life when the Nygrens and their children moved to the farm in 1994.
Serenbe in the years to come grew from being a place to live to becoming a raison d’être for Steve Nygren. He feared that the suburban sprawl of metro Atlanta would overtake one of the last undeveloped stretches of land in the Atlanta area. Nygren, his neighbors and his business partners decided to turn Serenbe, which now comprises 1,000 acres, into an ecologically sound, sustainable planned community.
Land preservation is a big part of the community — 80% of the land is designated for green space — as is organic farming. The community, however, embraces green and sustainable building practices in a way that would make any plumbing and mechanical contractor happy.
Using newly designed, yet inexpensive reuse water techniques, treated effluent water is reused for irrigation and future water supply for toilets. Other wastewater is treated in a two-stage chemical-free passive system that incorporates non-disruptive filtration and dispersion.
Rather than creating concrete spillways that concentrate storm runoff, Serenbe storm water runoff is directed into natural systems of vegetated filter strips and shallow channels of dense vegetation. These natural filters remove pollutants while dispersing water flow.
Of particular interest to contractors, all homes are built to the standards of the EarthCraft House Program. These standards include energy efficiency, low maintenance, air quality, water conservation, and resource-efficient building materials and systems.
Earthcraft was a bit ahead of its time when it was created in 1999. The Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and Southface launched EarthCraft House, a residential green building program designed to address the climate conditions of the Southeast. (Southface is an energy efficiency education and consulting firm that performs services such as building assessment and certification, energy modeling, and training.)
The EarthCraft House program is intended for single-family detached homes, townhomes and duplexes. The program is a blueprint for creating and maintaining energy- and resource-efficient living environments
EarthCraft House certifications are determined through a points-based worksheet, which allows builders to select the sustainability measures that are best suited for their project. Worksheet items address proper site planning, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, resource-efficient building materials, indoor air quality, water conservation and homebuyer education, and all are verified during site visits and inspections. EarthCraft-certified homes must also pass diagnostic tests for air infiltration and duct leakage standards, and homes certified at the gold or platinum levels must meet Energy Star requirements.
Given the environment and mind-set in Serenbe, a manufacturer of high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and appliances fit right in.
On May 31, the Bosch Group held a Grand Opening Event for its Bosch Experience Center, an educational and interactive demonstration center for Bosch products, located within the Serenbe community. Representatives from Bosch and Serenbe along with invited dignitaries and press members were in attendance.
The Bosch Experience Center features a functional demonstration of a geothermal heating and cooling system (recognized in 2012 and 2013 as “Most Efficient” by Energy Star) as well as a solar thermal system. It also showcases related Bosch Thermotechnology solutions as well as energy efficient appliances, security and sound systems, power tools, aluminum structural materials and automotive clean diesel technology, all from the Bosch Group.
Visitors to the Bosch Experience Center will have the opportunity to experience an array of Bosch products and solutions inside the building.
Serenbe boasts several net-zero owned and occupied homes equipped with se-lected Bosch Thermotechnology products such as geothermal heat pumps, an electric heat pump water heater, gas condensing boilers and combi boilers, a gas condensing water heater, indirect water tanks and a solar thermal hot water sys-tem.
“Bosch has been an incredible partner,” said Steve Nygren. “With the industry’s brightest minds and best products, Bosch is helping us achieve our vision of providing cost-effective, sustainable home solutions for discerning homebuyers. With the complete suite of Bosch products, we can provide a unique one-stop solution — a critical issue for homebuilders, installers and consumers. It’s now possible to not only achieve energy efficient performance, but also retain a reasonable home purchase entry price point for the U.S. consum r of approximately $250,000 — which helps diminish a major roadblock for widespread sustainable technology adoption.”
Have your Heating system tuned-up for the season, so that you are running at peak efficiency. Operating at peak efficiency will save money because the system doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job.
Replace your furnace or air handler filters on a regular basis. Lack of regular filter changes and maintenance is the number one cause of system breakdowns and costly repair bills.
Keep the thermostat constant. Continuously adjusting the thermostat can be very inefficient. You can, however, lower the thermostat 2-3 degrees during the day while you’re away to save money. For every degree you lower the setting, you can expect to cut energy consumption by up to 3-5%.
Flip the fan switch on your thermostat into the “fan on” mode when heating the house. This process will ensure that air is always being stirred to prevent hot and cold pockets from forming.
Consider a Heat Pump if you are going to replace your outdoor unit. Although a Heat Pump cannot produce air as hot as your gas furnace, when you combine a Heat Pump with your gas furnace you have a system that is much more efficient and still able to deliver the warmth we all love.
Set air vents on the second floor to receive approximately 45 percent of the heated air. This will help even out the temperatures from the first to the second floor of the home. (Remember, hot air rises)
Open the shades and curtains to help produce radiant heat of the sun.
Replace older windows with more efficient low-E glass. These windows help to reduce the heat loss of your homes HVAC system. Also, keep storm windows closed. This saves money and extends the life of the system.
Run humidifiers to help maintain the warm feeling in your home. Proper humidity can make the air feel up to 3 degrees warmer. Which means you can turn down your thermostat a couple of degrees and save money on your utility bills and still feel the warmth that we all love on those cold days in winter. (Depending upon your environment, you may still need a dehumidifier running in the basement)
Clear or cut back shrubs and bushes from the outdoor Heat Pump unit. The sides of the unit require at least 12-18 inches of clearance for proper performance.
Keep fallen leaves, grass clippings, foliage and other dirt and debris away from your outdoor Heat Pump unit. And keep the indoor coils clean, following manufacturers’ instructions.
Don’t block vents or ducts inside the house to assure air flow in the home.
Caulk and install weather stripping around windows and doors (especially the attic) to close air gaps.
Consider use of a programmable thermostat to automatically increase or decrease temperatures during day and night to suit a family’s lifestyle and reduce energy cost.
Keep windows and doors closed to help with the homes natural heat loss.
Progressive Heating & Air Conditioning can help you with any heating and air problem as well as diagnose your whole house and recommend solutions that will provide you and your family with the most energy efficient home possible.