Lowering the Energy Use of Your Furnace, Heat Pump or A/C Sytem

Lowering the Energy Use of Your Furnace or Heat Pump

  • If your existing heating system is more than 15 years old, replace it with a new, more energy efficient model. Annual savings on a gas furnace can be as much as 35%!
  • If you have older, single pane windows, you can greatly benefit by sealing them with 3M brand (or similar) window film.
  • Invest in a yearly maintenance program. Proper maintenance is essential for peak efficiency.
  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • Keep the temperature fairly constant, as frequent changes will use more energy. Setting back the temperature at night, however, is recommended.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters once a month or as needed.
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  • Your Furnace or Heat Pump should be professionally cleaned and tuned twice a year.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and Returns as needed. Make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Keep draperies and shades on south-facing windows open during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home; close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  •  For example, if you heat your house with a heat pump, do not close the vents-closing the vents could harm the heat pump.
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely. Turn these fans off as soon as they are no longer needed. In about one hour, these fans can pull out a house-full of warmed or cooled air.
  • Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and then look for obvious holes. Consult with a professional about repairing duct leaks. Safe duct repairs require a licensed heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning contractor.


 

Reducing Your Central Air Conditioner's Energy Use

  • If your existing cooling system is more than 15 years old, replace it with a new, more energy efficient model. Annual savings on a central air conditioner can be as much as 20%!
  • Just like the furnace, proper maintenance is essential for peak efficiency. Invest in a yearly maintenance program.
  • Set your thermostat at 78°F or higher. Each degree setting below 78°F will increase your energy consumption by approximately 8%.
  • Use bath and kitchen fans sparingly when the air conditioner is operating.
  • Inspect and clean both the indoor and outdoor coils. The indoor coil in your air conditioner acts as a magnet for dust because it is constantly wetted during the cooling season. Dirt build-up on the indoor coil is the single most common cause of poor efficiency. The outdoor coil must also be checked periodically for dirt build-up and cleaned if necessary.
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  • Your air conditioning system should be professionally cleaned and tuned twice a year.
  • Check the refrigerant charge. The circulating fluid in your air conditioner is a special refrigerant gas that is put in when the system is installed. If the system is overcharged or undercharged with refrigerant, it will not work properly. You may need a service contractor to check the fluid and adjust it appropriately.
  • Reduce the cooling load by using cost-effective conservation measures. For example, effectively shade east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-generating activities, such as dish washing, until the evening on hot days.
  • Over most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day. Don't let in unwanted heat and humidity. If practical, ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.
  • Try not to use a humidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. The humidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder.
Nathan Bonner