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Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing Blog: Archive for the ‘Energy Efficiency’ Category
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER system, was used up until SEER2 launched on January 1st, 2023. The main point you need to know as a homeowner is that certain air conditioners and heating systems are no longer available for purchase due to having a low rating under the new system.
So what does this mean for you? The wave of SEER2-ready HVAC systems come with a higher cost than you may have heard in previous quotes for a new air conditioner or furnace.
SEER2 impacts air conditioners, heat pumps, evaporator coils, gas furnaces, and single packaged units. Think about SEER2 as raising the bar on the lowest acceptable energy standards for these systems and components.
This means some older HVAC equipment is no longer available for purchase or installation because it doesn’t meet the minimum requirements set forth by SEER2.
2023 has brought some changes to the HVAC industry and with those changes are details and vocabulary every homeowner should know about. Previously, the industry has used something called seasonal energy efficiency rating system, often known as SEER.
SEER measures air conditioner and heat pump cooling efficiency, by taking the cooling output for a typical cooling season and dividing it by the total electric energy input during the same time frame.
Don’t wait until your family is uncomfortably hot this summer to check in on your air conditioning unit. Make sure its ready to beat the heat by following these simple steps below.
Having a qualified and experienced inspector perform a Home Performance Assessment is the first step to determining how to best prioritize efficiency upgrades and ultimately save you money on your energy bills.
You may have heard these referred to as Energy Audits, or some similarly negative phrase that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Instead of looking at this as an anxiety-inducing inspection (thank you, IRS), we find it far more accurate to think of HPAs as a tool for big-picture analysis of your home’s indoor air quality, potential energy-loss areas, evenly-heated rooms, and other issues. Home Performance Assessments are done to better your family’s well-being and safety. We’re on your side!
Your home is likely the biggest investment that you will make; getting a Home Performance Assessment can ensure it operates efficiently, comfortably and safely. A Home Performance Assessment can result in utility bill savings between 20 and 50 percent–with the ever-rising cost of utilities, the potential savings grow each year.
Through utility bill analysis, infiltrometer testing, thermographic imaging, duct leakage and repair, indoor humidity and moisture control, combustion gas analysis, weatherization services and IAQ analysis, a Home Performance Assessment is the best and most comprehensive step for you to take towards saving money and improving your home.
Looking for an efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly heating/cooling system? A geothermal heat pump is the greenest way to go.
Even though the air temperature fluctuates a significant amount over the seasons, the ground absorbs nearly half the suns energy, keeping a more consistent temp under the surface. Geothermal heat pumps take advantage of this fact by employing earth loops– usually closed-system loops made of piping– to tap into stable underground temperatures and deliver heat or cooling when you need it.
These systems work by circulating an antifreeze solution in the loop between the ground source heat pump and your house, exchanging heat and distributing it through a conventional duct system to heat or cool your house.
It’s winter and the air outside is at its coldest. A geothermal heat pump system easily absorbs ground heat from the abundant supply stored below your home, and consumes less energy than a traditional pump system in the process.
When warm summer weather rolls around, a geothermal heating and cooling system absorbs heat from your home and transfers it to the underground loop where it is then absorbed by the cooler earth. The geothermal heat pump uses the cool water returning from the ground to create cool, dehumidified air conditioning for your home.
Different kinds of loops
Depending on what your unique space and lifestyle requires, different kinds of earth loops may be installed.
Often used when adequate land surface is available. Depending on geothermal system needs and space available, pipes are placed in trenches that range in length from 100 to 400 feet.
The ideal choice for a geothermal heat pump when available land surface is limited. Well drilling equipment is used to bore small-diameter holes from 100 to 400 feet deep.
Pond (Lake) Loops
Very economical to install when a large body of water is available for use by the geothermal heating and cooling system. Coils of pipe are simply placed on the bottom of the pond or lake to capture the geothermal energy.
Open loops (Well-Water Systems)
In ideal conditions, an open-loop application can be the most economical type of geothermal system. These use groundwater from a well as a direct energy source.
Images and descriptions via waterfurnace.com
- An EPA study of energy efficiency concluded geothermal energy is the most environmentally friendly heating/cooling system.
- The United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that geothermal energy is more efficient and cost-effective compared with conventional residential systems.
- Available everywhere in the United States, geothermal energy can be found underground virtually anywhere.
- Geothermal cost savings can be increased by geothermal energy incentives, available from federal, state, local, and utility sources.
Energy and cost savings of geothermal heat pumps will vary by region and type of conventional system they’re compared with. But the energy cost of geothermal versus conventional HVAC systems will always be lower — and the geothermal system will always be greener.
Click to enlarge.
How much can you save in energy costs with a geothermal system? Calculate your home’s potential geothermal system cost savings
Looking for more information? Check out energy.gov for further resources: https://energy.gov/energysaver/geothermal-heat-pumps
Don’t let your winter heating costs get you down
Sure, in the short walk from your heated car to your heated office the cold winter air may be refreshing, but I’m sure there are few among us who don’t appreciate the comfort of a well-heated house at the end of the day. I’ll also bet there are few among us whose energy bills don’t see some kind of spike in these winter months either. That part’s not so comforting.
But before you scramble to take up residence someplace more tropical, we’ve put together 6 tips to help keep your house warm and wallet happy this winter.
1. Go smart (with a smart/programmable thermostat)
Automatically control the temperature of your house when you’re working, sleeping, or otherwise occupied with a programmable thermostat, and you can save from 5 to 20% on your heating bill. No need to worry about remembering to turn your heat down when you leave the house–programmable thermostats take the hassle out of heating.
Only if you believe that a “leaky home” can waste money
And you should! Whether you are heating or cooling your home, leaky homes can waste your hard-earned dollars!
The best way to evaluate your home is to have it professionally tested. Home energy assessments, home energy audits and home energy check-ups are all pretty much the same thing. The important element is to choose the right type of professional contractor to perform any one of these evaluations of your home.
As explained in this video from the U.S. Department of Energy, a home energy checkup is a series of tests and inspections to help determine how your home can be more efficient. Finding the source of inefficiencies in the home will help you understand how you could be wasting money. It is common to find problems in most homes like:
- trap doors/access doors to attics
- dirty filters
- leaky duct work
- airflow and sources of air leakage in the home
The good news is that all of these problems areas can be fixed! Many times, homeowners are tricked into purchasing new heating or cooling systems that can cost thousands of dollars. But it is quite common that a new system is not what the homeowner needs. What’s worse is that the new system will not operate as efficiently as expected because the true source of inefficiencies in the home have not been addressed. It is common that homeowners can save more money in the long run by doing a little bit of investigative work on the front end.
So why wait until those energy bills start adding up?
You may also be interested in:
Solving Drafts (and Other Common Problems) with Duct Repairs
The Importance of Sealing Attic Penetrations
This last weekend, Aeroseal duct sealing was featured on national television (again).
Check out this clip from Hometime for a great explanation of how the procedure works and how you could see improvements to indoor air quality, dust, consistent comfort and heating expenses.
I encourage everyone to ask your local heating and cooling contractor if they can provide this service. If they can’t, then make sure to find out who can!
Don’t let anyone tell you that hand sealing the duct system is “just as good” as sealing them from the inside.
If you are in BARRON HEATING’s service area, check out this page for more great information and how you can take advantage of this innovative opportunity: http://www.barronheating.com/aeroseal/
Government and utility consumer protection authorities unanimously agree that your satisfaction depends much more on picking the right contractor than a particular equipment brand.
One question we are asked time and time again is “What brand of furnace or air conditioner should I buy?”
Once a homeowner becomes more informed about the secrets of the HVAC industry, they always realize that the brand question is almost irrelevant.
Regardless of brand, today’s equipment is very well made. Modern air conditioners and furnaces are similar to modern televisions. It’s almost impossible to buy a bad TV nowadays. All the major brands make really excellent products that rarely break down. Like a TV, modern heating and cooling equipment is also very well made and dependable.
Unfortunately, the comparison stops there. When you buy a TV you can take it home, unpack it and plug it in. While a TV works right out of the box, a central air conditioner, heat pump or furnace must be very carefully selected and installed in order to work as the manufacturer intended. It can’t be just plugged in. Unfortunately for consumers, the installing contractor is the weak link in the chain.
A replacement HVAC system is NOT a plug-in appliance. It is much more like a home renovation project – which depends much more on the contractor than on the renovation materials used.
Government and utility consumer protection authorities unanimously agree that your satisfaction depends much more on picking the right contractor than a particular equipment brand. Energy Star says a good contractor:
- Will ask lots of questions about how the old system performed, and what you are hoping the new system will do.
- Will measure and inspect your home and recommend the right size system for your home.
- Will inspect or test your existing air duct system, explain the possible impact your old ducts will have on your new equipment, and provide upgrade options.
- Will explain multiple options for equipment efficiency, comfort and noise reduction features, warranty – and brand.
- Will install and commission your new system properly to best industry practices.
Buying a new heating and cooling system is a big investment – both upfront and long term due to utility and repair costs. Invest the time to become an informed consumer. Focus on the contractor and their business practices, not on the equipment brand or brands they happen to prefer and recommend.
If you are in the market for a new system, give us a call. We’d be happy to come out and chat about your needs, and explain how we follow the best industry practices so that you are 100% satisfied!