Heating and
Air Conditioning

 

Up to 60% of your utility
bill can be attributed to
heating and air conditioning
especially in the dead of
summer and winter.





Schedule a Home Energy Audit Today!

Audits starting
at just $195!

Consider Making a Change if Any of the Following Statements Apply

  • Some of your rooms are too hot or cold. Inadequate air sealing or insufficient insulation could be the cause. No matter how efficient your heating and cooling system is, if your home is not properly sealed and insulated, you will not be as comfortable and your system will have to work harder.
  • Your home has humidity problems, excessive dust, or rooms that never seem to get comfortable. Leaky or poorly insulated ductwork might be the cause.
  • Your equipment needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up. In addition to the rise in energy costs, the age and condition of your heating and cooling equipment may have caused it to become less efficient.
  • Your heating and cooling equipment is more than 10 years old. Consider replacing it with newer, more efficient equipment. And remember, high efficiency levels begin with ENERGY STAR.
  • You leave your thermostat set at one constant temperature. You could be missing a great energy-saving opportunity. You can set a programmable thermostat to adjust your home’s temperature at times when you’re regularly away or sleeping.
  • You used EPA’s ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick (www.energystar. gov/yardstick) to compare your household’s energy use to others across the country and your score is below five. That means you’re using and paying for more energy at home than most Americans. Visit the ENERGY STAR Home Advisor (www.energystar.gov/homeadvisor) to get recommendations for home improvement projects that will increase your score by improving your home’s energy efficiency and comfort.

Maintain Your Equipment

Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system inefficiency and failure. To ensure efficient system operation, it's important to perform routine maintenance.

Change your air filter regularly. A clean filter will prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, which can lead to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure. Check your filter every month, especially during winter and summer months, when use tends to be heavier. Change your filter if it's dirty- or at least every three months.

Tune up your HVAC equipment. Proper maintenance by a qualified technician is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent future problems. Contractors get busy during summer and winter months, so it is best to check the cooling system in spring and the heating system in the fall. Plan the checkups around the beginning and end of daylight-saving time each spring and fall. For tips on hiring the right contractor, see page 18, "Work with a Heating and Cooling Contractor."

Overall System Maintenance Checklist

Your contractor should complete the following each spring and fall:

  • Check thermostat settings to ensure the heating and cooling system turns on and off at the programmed temperatures.
  • Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause your system to operate unsafely and reduce the life of major components.
  • Lubricate moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increase the amount of electricity you use. Lack of lubrication can also cause equipment to wear out more quickly, requiring more frequent repairs or replacements.
  • Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). If plugged, the drain can cause water damage in the house, affect indoor humidity levels, and breed bacteria and mold.
  • Check system controls to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
  • Inspect, clean, or change the air filter in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this yourself. Depending on your system, your filter may be located in the duct system versus the heating and cooling equipment itself.

Additional System-Specific Maintenance Activities

For Heating Systems:

  • Inspect the flue piping for rusting and any disconnections or evidence of back drafting.
  • Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion, and heat exchanger. Improper burner operation can be caused by a dirty burner or a cracked heat exchanger-either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently. Leaking gas (or oil) connections are also a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems.

For Cooling Systems:

  • Clean indoor and outdoor coils before warm weather starts. A dirty coil reduces the system's ability to cool your home and causes the system to run longer, increasing your energy costs and shortening the life of your equipment.
  • Check your central air conditioner's refrigerant charge and adjust it if necessary to make sure it meets manufacturer specifications. Too much or too little refrigerant charge can damage the compressor, reducing the life of your equipment and increasing costs.
  • Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow. Proper airflow over the indoor coil is necessary for efficient equipment operation and reliability.

Use a Programmable Thermostat Properly

A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

How Do You Choose the Right One for You?

To decide which model is best for you, think about your schedule and how often you are away from home for regular periods of time-work, school, other activities-and then decide which of the three different models best fits your schedule:

7-day models are best if your daily schedule tends to change; for example, if children are at home earlier on some days. These models give you the most flexibility and let you set different programs for different days-usually with four possible temperature periods per day.

5+2-day models use the same schedule every weekday, and another for weekends.

5-1-1 models are best if you tend to keep one schedule Monday through Friday and another schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.

Programmable Thermostat Settings

You can use the table below as a starting point for setting energy-saving temperatures, and then adjust the settings to fit your family's schedule and stay comfortable.

Get the Greatest Benefit from Your Programmable Thermostat

  • Install your thermostat away from heating or cooling registers, appliances, lighting, doorways, fireplaces, skylights and windows, and areas that receive direct sunlight or drafts. Interior walls are best.
  • Keep the thermostat set at energy-saving temperatures for long periods of time, such as during the day when no one is home and at bedtime.
  • Set the "hold" button at a constant energy-saving temperature when going away for the weekend or on vacation.
  • Resist the urge to override the pre-programmed settings. Every time you do, you use more energy and may end up paying more on your energy bill.
  • Use a programmable thermostat for each zone of your house if you have multiple heating and cooling zones. This will help you maximize comfort, convenience, and energy savings throughout the house.
  • Change your batteries each year if your programmable thermostat runs on batteries. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.

If you have a heat pump, you may require a special programmable thermostat to maximize your energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or contractor for details before selecting your thermostat.

If you have a manual thermostat, you can adjust the temperatures daily before you leave the house and when you go to sleep at night. Typically, adjusting temperatures 5 - 8 degrees (down in winter, up in summer) can help save energy if you are going to be away from home for several hours.

© 2011 Home Energy Consultants. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy
Home Energy Audits in Houston Texas.
Regulated by The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
P. O. Box 12157, Austin, TX 78711, 1-800-803-9202, 512-463-6599
TACLB016302E