The keys to energy savings may be in your HVAC system
Like most Arizona homeowners, your energy bill in the summer can get pretty high. In the fall, while those high bills are still top of mind, yet we are in the sweet spot of not running the air conditioning or heater, take the steps to decrease energy usage before next year.
"When the temperatures dip below 80 degrees you should perform fall maintenance on your heating system," said Jeff Carmichael, owner REEis Air Conditioning, a Rosie-Certified Partner. "This will ensure it runs properly when we finally hit those low temperatures, desert chilly nights, and days. This is also a perfect time to make corrections to your home's efficiency and overall comfort issues."
Carmichael suggests adding insulation to your attic, sealing, modifying, or even replacing your duct system for even cooling throughout the home. Replacing your air conditioning system with a higher efficiency model will significantly improve your energy bill.
"A lot of our customers are using their homes differently now. We have added mini splits to garages for a separate working space. We have introduced a lot of zone systems into existing ducts to give homeowners the control of the temperature in different areas or rooms in their home," said Carmichael.
Your attic/crawl space probably already has some insulation. But if it was installed years ago when the home was built, particularly before 2004, it could have deteriorated, or the builder might have installed just enough to satisfy the building code of the day. Today, you need more protection from the heat because air conditioning costs are so high.
How do you know if there is adequate insulation in the attic? Stick your head up there and look. If you see a lot of lumber or drywall, and not a continuous sea of loose-fill insulation without mountains or valleys, you need insulation. Other signs of poor insulation include:
1 | Higher Utility Bills
Damaged insulation or areas where insulation is worn away allows the conditioned air to escape outside causing the system to work harder.
2 | Drafts Throughout Your Home
Hot and cold spots or drafty areas indicate the insulation is worn out. Fill in those spots with new insulation for more consistent temperatures throughout every room in your home.
3 | Recent Water Damage
If you've had leaks in your roof or water damage in your walls, the insulation in these areas is likely wet. Unless you have blown-in insulation, water will ruin the insulation in these areas and possibly lead to biological growth. Remove and replace it with new insulation.
4 | Pest Infestation
Mice, snakes, and bats can make their nests in the warmth of your home's insulation. They will chew through the insulation and leave behind fecal matter and urine, which can contaminate the insulation and indoor air supply. Upgrading the insulation is the best course of action in this situation.
When installing attic insulation there are two things you need:
- The attic insulation when properly installed should reach a level of R-38. The R-value measures the thickness of the insulation. You do not need to exceed the R-40 rating for attic insulation. At that point, you are going beyond the economic "cost vs. value" ratio.
- Properly engineered attic ventilation. You don't need a motor-driven attic ventilator, overdone insulation that's any higher than R-38, an extra layer of protection in the form of a radiant barrier, or another product that promises greater energy savings.
Ductwork & Sealing
The ductwork in your attic has joints that can leak over time. Poor installers use duct tape to prevent leaks, but that's not the most-effective solution. Knowledgeable installers double-seal the joints with a super-sticky adhesive called Mastic, and then with a wrap of foil tape. Ask your air conditioning technician to inspect the ductwork as part of your seasonal maintenance.
Five Simple Steps To Prepare Your A/C for The Change In Season
"There are a lot of inexpensive improvements homeowners can make to provide better comfort, use less energy, and improve the air quality in your home while keeping their energy bill in check," said Carmichael.
1 | Replace or Clean Your Air Filter
Like your car, your HVAC filter is key to keeping your unit's components running smoothly and efficiently. Usually, filters are located at the return air grill in the main room in the house.
2 | Check Your Thermostat
It's important to check how well is your thermostat working. Does it respond as expected and keep your home at the temperature you set? If you have an older thermostat, you may want to switch to a programmable thermostat as it is more efficient and usually saves money on monthly utility bills.
3 | Maintain the Area Around Your Outside Unit
Make sure the unit is clear of plants, rocks, tree branches, and other debris summer monsoons may have thrown near your A/C unit. It's important to keep your HVAC unit clear to allow enough airflow. Two to three feet of space in each direction should do the trick.
4 | Clean Your Interior Vents and Grilles
Check all the vents and grilles in your home and dust or vacuum them to help with maximum airflow inside your home. Regular cleaning of vents and grills can improve the air quality in your home, particularly homes with young children, older relatives, or individuals who have allergies.
5 | Schedule Preventative Maintenance
By scheduling regular professional maintenance visits, you can feel good knowing one of the most important systems in your home is running well. Regular maintenance extends the life of your unit and helps keep your utility bills from rising due to inefficiencies in operation.
Before you spend thousands of dollars on a new system, implement these measures for a season then determine the best course of action.
Sponsored By: REEis Air Conditioning
Not sure where to start, or unsure if you have an issue? Get started with a free home evaluation with a REEIS home performance analyst. REEIS is a home performance contracting company. They deliver guaranteed results by analyzing and improving more than just the A/C. As one of the top Home Performance contractors in the nation, REEIS has been the recipient of the Century Club award given by Energy Star and the Department of Energy. REEis offers 40-point A/C maintenance plans to help keep your unit efficient and performing at the highest level.
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