Making your home more environmentally friendly In addition to increased energy efficiency, a new home comfort system can also make less of an environmental impact. Older heating and cooling systems not up to current SEER , HSPF or AFUE standards waste energy, create a bigger carbon footprint and ultimately, end up costing you more money. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to maximize your home's efficiency while also being environmentally friendly.
- Look at your current energy bills to identify inefficiencies. Or use our energy savings calculator to help you decide if your current system should be replaced.
- Purchase equipment with an ENERGY STAR® label. High-efficiency systems reduce your impact on the environment and can also save you money. You may also be eligible for a Federal Tax Credit. Check with us to determine qualifying models.
- Have your NATE-certified technician help you with proper system selection and sizing for your home or business.
- Compare the SEER or AFUE of your cooling or heating system with newer models. If it's below 13, you may want to consider a new, more efficient system. Remember, the higher the rating, the less wasted energy and reduced carbon footprint. Use our energy savings calculator to help determine the efficiency of your current cooling or heating system as compared to a more efficient HVAC system.
- Look into geothermal heating systems. By using the earth's natural heat, these systems are among the most efficient and energy-conserving heating and cooling technologies currently available.
- Have your system serviced regularly for optimal performance. Change your air filters monthly.
- Use of a humidifier during colder months not only adds moisture to your home, but it can actually make it feel warmer. In turn, you'll be more apt to lower your thermostat—saving money and consuming less energy.
- Ceiling fans can help delay or reduce the need for air conditioning.
- Make sure your new air conditioner uses environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant. It's not only better for the environment, but by 2010 will replace all other air conditioner refrigerants.
- Plant more trees on your property. By doing so, the shade it gives off will make your home feel cooler in the warmer months. In addition to climate control, trees also improve air quality.
- Install a programmable thermostat to keep temperatures regulated all year long.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated—drafty windows and doors waste energy
No matter what you do, when it is 68 F inside your house, and 0 degrees outside your house; the cold will suck the heat out of your house. It will pull at a certain rate through the exposed walls and ceilings, through the windows and floors. This is known as heat transfer.
The cold air is also trying to sneak into the building through every little crack in every nook and cranny. This is known as infiltration. Your heat, on the other hand, is trying to escape through every nook and cranny. This is known as exhalation. It's as if the house was breathing. Breathing both air and temperature in and out.
The total of all this leaking and losing at a specific low temperature for your region, is known as the heat loss. This total will be calculated in btu's per hour, and the heating system will need to produce and distribute this same amount of btu's per hour to maintain your 68 F room temperature. As most rooms differ from one another, each room's heat loss must be determined. The total loss of all rooms added together will determine the size and design of the heating system.
In simple structures, the mere replacement of this lost heat is sufficient; but in complex houses with open floor plans and multiple levels, the flow of heat within the building becomes a factor. Heat rising from the first floor to the second, increases the demand on the first floor while decreasing the demand on the second.
The formula used here is a combination of three ingredients developed to reflect the internal conditions of a modern structure. It combines industry accepted standards of heat transfer with the old fashioned tin knocker "cfm method" of computation ; blended together by 25 years experience designing and installing heating and cooling systems. The result is an estimate of comfort.
In the heat loss calculation, all windows are created equal, no matter which direction they face. Disallowing for wind factors, similar types of glazing's lose heat at the same rate. On the other hand, when calculating heat gain, windows facing east and west gain more heat that those facing north and south. This results in larger quantities of air being distributed to rooms with east and west facing windows. This air is necessary for cooling but not for heating. In the more northern climates, where heating is a priority, enter all window areas as east and west shaded, regardless of which direction they face. This will restore the emphasis on a balanced distribution system rather than one weighted toward solar radiation.
Cold is another word for empty. It isn't really anything. It is, as a vacuum is, the lack of something. Cold is the lack of heat. The earth we live on is almost empty. We live on the edge of a delicate temperature balance only some 500 F above empty. The coldest it can ever get is about -460 F, but "hot-wise" temperatures can reach into the billions. We live at the bottom of a thermometer that stretches to the moon. Our planet is a cool puddle in a desert of heat, but water works only at these narrow temperature ranges, and life depends on this water.
Our planet must remain empty in order to support life. Refrigerants that leak into the atmosphere cause damage which allows extra heat to alter and fill our emptiness. Federal and international regulations have been devised and enacted to curb the release of certain refrigerants into the atmosphere to prevent our emptiness from being disrupted. A federal license is required for handling these refrigerants. If your going to use refrigerants, use them conscientiously. Much depends on it.
It is the function of a cooling system to remove unwanted heat from a structure and relocate it to the out of doors. This heat exchange is accomplished by the use of the refrigeration cycle as performed by your air-conditioning system. The refrigeration cycle takes advantage of the relationships between pressure, temperature and volume; in such a way that heat is collected inside and released outside. It uses a condenser, a compressor, and an evaporator to accomplish this task.
The condenser and compressor are located outside of the house, while the evaporator is located inside the air distribution system. The quantity of heat that needs to be removed to maintain indoor comfort, on a specific warm day for your region, is known as the heat gain for your structure*. A building gains heat from the actual outdoor temperature and humidity levels. It gains heat from the people inside of it, from the lights, computers, copiers, dishwashers and ovens. But mostly it gains heat from its exposure to sunlight, from solar radiation. The hot sun beating down on the walls and the roof, the sunlight pouring through the windows and warming the floors it lands on.
The sum of all of this heat accumulation is known as the heat gain of the building.
* Many contractors distribute an extra 1500 btu of cooling to the kitchen to offset the heat given off by the appliances, and an extra 400 btu to various rooms for occupants.