Tips for San Diego on How to Save Energy and Money with Your Home’s Air Conditioner and Furnace

energy-tips

It costs you more money and uses more energy to heat and cool your home than any other system in your home. Typically, 44% to 50% of your utility bills pays for heating and cooling your home. Regardless of the kind of systems you have, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. Keep in mind that an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using an approach that involves the entire house. If you combine proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, weatherization and thermostat settings, you can reduce your energy bills by up to 50%.

General No-Cost Tips:

  • Set your thermostat as low as comfortably possible.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters each month.
  • Clean baseboard heaters, warm-air registers and radiators as needed; always make sure they’re not blocked by drapes, carpeting or furniture.
  • Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely. These fans can pull out a houseful of warmed air in just one hour. Remember to turn these fans off as soon as they have done the job.
  • Take advantage of “passive solar.” During the colder months open blinds, draperies and shades on south-facing windows to allow the sun’s friendly rays to warm your home. You’ll be surprised at how effective this is. Close them at night to reduce the chill and keep warm air inside.
  • Close any unoccupied rooms that are isolated from the rest of the house, such as corner rooms, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone altogether. However, if it adversely affects the rest of your system, do not turn the heating off.

Here are a few steps you can take to substantially improve your home’s energy efficiency:

Take a Holistic Approach to Total Home Energy Conservation

To achieve the maximum in total home comfort and energy savings, we recommend that you step back and look at the big picture of energy consumption in your home. The fact is, your total home comfort and efficiency is the product of many systems: heating, cooling, lighting and electrical, plumbing and possibly others working together. It is the interplay between these systems, combined with the size, age, physical features and location of your home, and even your lifestyle, that combine to produce the total energy efficiency of your home. Changing or upgrading one system without considering the other factors will usually result in some improvement, but may not deliver the maximum possible benefit.

If you’re building a new home or considering a major remodel or system upgrade, consider an Integrated Systems approach. It may cost a little more now but will undoubtedly save you a bundle over time. Our skilled engineers and technicians will look at the big picture when designing a solution for your home. Contact us for a Systems Evaluation and estimate today.

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Conduct a Home Energy Audit

The place to begin when evaluating your home’s overall energy efficiency and deciding how to reduce consumption and costs is with a Home Energy Audit. This takes into consideration much more than just your heating and cooling systems and will give you a benchmark from which to make decisions and measure your energy saving progress.

Here are some of the heating/cooling factors your audit should take into consideration:

  • Insulation in walls, floors, and attic
  • Vapor barriers in walls
  • Quality of windows – single or double pane
  • Heat loss around doors and windows
  • Quality of insulation in doors
  • Integrity of ductwork – any leaks
  • Cleanliness of ductwork
  • Use of “passive” solar energy
  • Use of drapes and other window coverings to prevent heat loss
  • Efficiency of heating and cooling systems – condition of filters, etc.

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Hi-Tech can install an energy efficient air conditioner in your San Diego home today.

Follow the WADLOT rule – WArm Dress LOwer Temperature

It takes a surprising amount of energy to raise the temperature in your home from 68º to 70º F than from 66º to 68º. On the other hand, if you insulate your body sufficiently, your own natural body heat will keep you plenty warm. That’s the essence of the WADLOT rule: WArm Dress LOwer Temperature. Believe it or not, you can cut your heating costs by 10% to 25% simply by lowering the thermostat at night when everyone is tucked cozily into their beds, and at other times when no one’s home. We recommend setting your thermostat no higher than 65º during the daytime and dropping it to 55º to 60º degrees at night. Compensate with a sweater or extra blanket and you’ll never know the difference. Meantime, take some extra comfort in knowing you’re doing your bit for conservation and in the spare cash you’ll have for that extra indulgence. Always consider the age and health of family members when following this rule.

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Consider using a Digital Setback Thermostat

Automate your WADLOT compliance with a new digital thermostat. This convenient new technology eliminates the necessity of remembering to turn down the heat at night or at other times when you know no one is going to be home. You just program the thermostat to “set back” at the appropriate times and forget it. Other features to look for in your thermostat: multiple daily settings, override or HOLD, and advanced recovery. Always look for the “Energy Star” logo on your thermostat. This symbol indicates that the product has been recognized by the EPA as an energy efficient product.

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Have your air ducts cleaned

Believe it or not, dirty air ducts can cost you up to 25% of the efficiency of your home heating and air conditioning systems. They can also be a breeding ground for germs and allergens that are then recirculated to every room in your home. Cleaning your ducts periodically (at least every 2 to 3 years) will help keep your comfort systems operating efficiently and protect the health and well being of every member of the family.

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Check the seals around doors and windows

Here’s an obvious one. When was the last time you checked the caulk around your windows? Especially if you live in an older home, this material can harden and crack with age. Periodically it needs to be repaired or chipped away and replaced. This is an easy maintenance task that can make a significant difference in the comfort of your home. Exterior doors should fit snugly and have appropriate weather stripping to avoid heat loss and prevent drafts. A storm door can also help prevent heat loss and keep you cozy in winter and cool in the summer months.

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Make sure there are no leaks in your air ducts

It may surprise you to learn that a single leak in an air duct can cost you up to 25% of the efficiency of your furnace or air conditioning system. Over time, ductwork can shift and settle in a home. Seals between lengths of ducting can become cracked or broken and leaks can develop. Don’t let these silent burglars rob you blind! Especially if your home is over 10 years old, a simple duct inspection and repair is a quick and affordable way to make sure your system is intact and operating at peak efficiency.

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Have your heating system tuned up regularly

Regular system maintenance is the single most important thing you can do to avoid major problems and repairs, keep your furnace running at peak efficiency and add years to its useful life. But beware: many service companies settle for a simple “clean and check.” It may be cheap and it might make you feel better, but this kind of service is often too superficial to spot many serious flaws that could cause trouble down the road. Insist on an in-depth system tune-up at least once each year. Hi-Tech offers a check that ensures that your system is running efficiently and is free of any mechanical weaknesses or flaws that could cause a breakdown or premature failure of your system. And the service is even GUARANTEED.

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Consider replacing your older energy-wasting equipment with today’s high-efficiency systems

If your system is more than ten years old, you can probably SAVE A LOT OF MONEY by replacing your gas or oil burning furnace, boiler or heat pump with a modern, high-efficiency unit. With the skyrocketing cost of fuel and electricity, the savings in your utility bills could literally offset the cost of the new equipment. And many states and municipalities are offering rebate incentives to switch to more efficient systems. If you think it may be time to consider a new integrated system or to replace your existing furnace, boiler, air conditioner or other component, why not contact Hi-Tech today and inquire about our FREE home comfort analysis. One of our trained service technicians will evaluate your home’s comfort systems and provide a full set of options along with a written estimate of replacement/installation costs and projected energy savings.

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A heat pump could augment your energy savings

Since when can you add more equipment and save money as a result? If you use electricity to heat your home, a heat pump system may do just that. Heat pumps are more efficient than conventional heating systems. In fact, of all the conventional heating systems available today, heat pumps alone can return more energy than they consume. This is possible because heat pumps use energy to transfer heat and intensify it, rather than to create it. A heat pump is basically a refrigerator. It uses energy only to run the fan and the compressor. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating as much as 30% to 40%. Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates; they return three times the amount of electrical energy they consume in amount of heat they provide. The three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source and ground source. In a nutshell, they collect heat from the air, water or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside.

Not only can heat pumps save you money while heating your home, they can also double as central air conditioners. They can cool your home by effectively collecting the heat inside your house and pumping it outside. To learn more about how heat pumps work and whether a heat pump is the right solution for you, see our heat pump product page or call a service advisor at (619) 535-2900.

Heat Pump Tips:
  • To prevent unnecessary expenses, do not set back the heat pump’s thermostat manually if it causes the electric resistance heating to come on. This type of heating, often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more costly.
  • Maintain the system according to manufacturer’s instructions and clean or change filters each month as needed.

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For more energy tips and information about green rebates, call us at (619) 535-2900.