Get the Most Bang for Your Energy Buck
Energy bills are pretty much unavoidable. While there are ways to “go off the grid,” most people must rely on natural gas, electricity and other forms of energy to keep their homes comfortable. While you can’t avoid energy bills, there are plenty of ways to keep them in check. In most homes, HVAC equipment accounts for more than 50 percent of the energy that is consumed. With that in mind, it pays to take steps to use your equipment as efficiently as possible.
Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment
Without a doubt, one of the best ways to slash energy costs and save money is by upgrading to air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps that are more efficient. With every passing year, major advances are made in the world of HVAC. Manufacturers are constantly making improvements, so replacing equipment that’s more than five years old is often justifiable. Of course, most people prefer to squeeze as much use out of their equipment as possible. In the meantime, there are other ways to slash energy costs. When the time comes, though, it’s well worth it to buy highly efficient HVAC equipment. The following ratings should steer you in the right direction:
- SEER – A SEER rating, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating, is used to gauge how efficient an air conditioner is. It’s well worth it to buy equipment that has the highest SEER rating possible. The higher the rating, the less energy it will need to keep your home comfortably cool. An experienced HVAC contractor can help you zero in on an air conditioning system with an exceptional SEER rating and a reasonable price tag. Furthermore, a contractor will use sophisticated calculations to ensure that the right capacity is used, which has a major impact on how efficient this type of equipment operates as well. In the U.S., the minimum allowable SEER rating is 13.
- AFUE – When the time comes to replace an old furnace, you may want to consider a heat pump instead. If you do decide to buy a furnace, keep an eye on its AFUE rating, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating. This rating reflects the amount of heat that is generated versus the amount of fuel that is used. The U.S. Department of Energy requires all heaters and furnaces to have AFUE ratings of at least 78 percent. However, you should try to get a model with a much higher rating than that.
- HSPF – Heat pumps are more popular than ever, especially in places that enjoy relatively mild winters. By switching to a heat pump, you can save money and enjoy superior year-round comfort. As with other types of HVAC equipment, heat pumps are rated based on how efficient they are. The rating that is used is called a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF. It is equal to the seasonal heating output of a heat pump in BTUs divided by the amount of energy that’s generated in watt-hours. Higher ratings equal more efficient operation.
Insulation and Ductwork
Let’s say you upgrade to more efficient HVAC equipment. That’s a great start, but you’ll still waste a lot of energy if your home isn’t properly insulated. You’re probably familiar with the importance of insulating ceilings and exterior walls, but what about the ducts in your home? A huge amount of heated and cooled air can be lost through tiny cracks, holes and gaps in a home’s ducts. An HVAC contractor can insulate your ducts to minimize wastage. This is a great way to get as much comfort for as little money as possible.
Even after insulating your home and upgrading to energy efficient equipment, your bills may let you down over time. This typically happens when people fail to have their equipment tuned up regularly. As with other forms of equipment, air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps become less efficient as they get dirty or as small issues arise. As long as you have an HVAC contractor perform routine maintenance on a regular basis, however, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
During a tune-up, an HVAC company will carefully inspect your home’s heating and cooling system. The technician will clean the equipment to ensure that it operates in the most efficient way possible. While inspecting the equipment, minor issues may be detected. Whether they are loose connections or damaged fan blades, quick fixes can go a long way toward keeping furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners as efficient as can be. This work has the added bonus of helping you avoid costly repairs and replacements later.
HVAC Maintenance, Repairs and Installations in Mobile, AL
If you live in or near Mobile and would like to keep your energy costs in check, routine maintenance by Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. can help. As a Carrier factory authorized dealer, we have access to a vast inventory of high-quality parts and equipment. Our NATE-certified technicians receive ongoing training, and we must adhere to rigid standards in order to maintain our designation as an authorized dealer. For you, that means affordable, high-quality service. We are experts in the latest energy efficient HVAC equipment as well, and we can help you select the perfect solution for your home. Contact us now to get started.