As Earth Day is celebrated, we are reminded of the importance of finding sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solutions for ourselves and future generations. One simple step you can make toward a more energy efficient home is with the air conditioning system.
Many people don’t realize that more than half a home’s energy is used by the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. By managing energy usage, reducing waste by fixing air leaks in the duct work and maintaining their HVAC with seasonal tune-ups, families can cut monthly usage of fossil fuel-generated electricity by to one-third. That means saving money and helping the environment without sacrificing comfort.
Rising utility and overall energy costs are concerns for most homeowners today. Fortunately, you can save money while being “greener” and stay comfortable.
Follow these suggestions from Aire Serv to create a more energy efficient home:
Install programmable thermostats that adjust the temperature when home or away. Why keep the house cool when nobody is home?
Use high efficiency air filters to help the air conditioning system stay cleaner longer.
Plant trees or shrubs to shade the air conditioning unit, but not so close that they block air flow.
Have a professional air conditioning provider clean the unit’s coils regularly – about every six months – to prevent dirt and dust build-up.
Check the attic, crawl space or basement to make sure it’s properly insulated.
Reduce the use of phantom energy by unplugging appliances and electronics when not in use.
Turn off the ceiling fan when leaving the room. Running the fan doesn’t lower the temperatures, but it does increase evaporation from your skin to help you feel cooler.
Scan the ductwork and vent registers, electrical connections and doors for air leaks. When all windows and doors are shut and fans are turned off, light an incense stick and pass around areas where there may be leaks. If smoke is sucked out, there may be a draft.
Look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) number on air conditioners if installing a new unit. Some units manufactured about 10 years ago were in the 10 SEER range while units today can go as high as 20 SEER or above. Going from a 10 to 20 SEER can cut your cooling costs in half.
If installing a new HVAC unit, consider donation or recycling. There are various components that need to be handled with care, such as the copper, oil and refrigerant in the old system. A unit in working order can be donated and non-functioning pieces can be picked-up by the municipal solid waste agency or Steel Recycling Institute. Talk to your HVAC contractor about the best local options.
Noe Pena is with Aire Serv of Stanislaus County. Established in 1992, Aire Serv is a global franchise organization providing installation, maintenance and repair of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and indoor air quality systems.