If you’ve received some surprisingly high energy bills over the past months, you might need to change your approach to home heating and cooling. All of your home’s systems work together, so neglecting any one area can dramatically impact the overall efficiency of your HVAC system. That’s why whole-house solutions to high energy bills often get the best results.
Here’s what you can do:
- Make sure your house is tight. Check all the weatherstripping and look for drafts. The very best way to really track down all these obvious and not so obvious energy thieves is to have a blower door test done on your home and then scan the home with an infrared camera. These diagnostic tools are part of a comprehensive home performance assessment of your home. This evaluation results in a complete energy, comfort and safety plan for your home.
- Seal your home's ductwork. The effectiveness of your ducts' connections can make or break your energy bills. If these connections leak, you’ll likely lose conditioned air, forcing your HVAC equipment to consume more energy to compensate — and leading to higher energy bills. Ask your technician can make you aware of any ductwork issues he notices during your maintenance appointment. This is another area that a home performance assessment can identify.
- Upgrade your home's insulation. You can upgrade your insulation to ensure that the conditioned air that your equipment produces stays inside. Hotter air always moves toward a cooler space, so in winter the heat inside will tend to escape through the walls, floors and ceiling — and in summer unwanted heat will infiltrate your home — unless your insulation is up to par.
- Replace your HVAC system. Once you have addressed the above issues, consider upgrading to a higher-efficiency system if your current system is more than 10 to 15 years old. The average life of the typical HVAC system is about 15 years. If your current system is getting older or needs costly repairs, it may time to consider an upgrade. Make sure not to skimp on the installation effort. Many new systems fail to deliver rated efficiency by as much as 30 to 40 percent owing to sloppy installation practices. Choosing the right contractor is as important or in some cases more important than choosing the right piece of equipment.
Finally, with either an old or new system, stick to a preventive maintenance schedule. One of the most effective ways to prevent high energy bills is to simply schedule regular maintenance for your heating and cooling system. Doing so will ensure that the equipment is kept as clean as possible, so it can operate as close to manufacturer conditions as possible. Regular service will also help to reduce the impact of wear and tear on the system, ensuring that you prevent avoidable breakdowns or early system failure. With annual preventive maintenance, you set the stage for your other home systems to contribute to better whole-house performance.
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.