Guide to Energy Efficiency 1 - Introduction Guide to Energy Efficiency 1 - Introduction
The average home spends about $1,500 annually on energy bills. Heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of a home's energy use. The EPA provides important recommendations for energy-efficient equipment, including proper sizing, quality installation and maintenance, and other home improvement considerations to help you get the most out of the heating and cooling products you purchase, save energy, and save as much as 20 percent annually on your total energy costs.
Whether you're replacing heating and cooling equipment in your home or planning the installation of equipment in a new home, choosing ENERGY STAR® qualified products can help keep your home comfortable year-round and contribute to a cleaner environment.
This guide will help you:
- Learn how to maintain your heating and cooling equipment and increase system performance to save energy and money while providing a more comfortable, healthy home for you and your family.
- Decide when it's time to replace your old heating and cooling equipment with more energy-efficient equipment.
When is it Time to for a Change?
As much as half of your household energy use goes to heating and cooling. With a few simple steps to properly seal and insulate your home, and energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, you can stay comfortable and save on your energy bills at the same time. Review the checklist on the next page to decide whether you should consider sealing air leaks, adding insulation, replacing your old heating and cooling system, or improving the performance of your existing system. Once you've decided on what changes need to be made, vist "Working with a Heating and Cooling Contractor" for tips on selecting the right contractor to perform the services you need.
You may want to consider making a change if:
- Some of your rooms are too hot or cold. Duct problems, inadequate air sealing or insulation could be the cause. No matter how efficient your heating and cooling system is, if your home is not properly sealed and insulated against air leakage, you will not be as comfortable and your system will have to work harder. Learn more by reading "Home Sealing."
- Your home has humidity problems and/or excessive dust. Poorly operating or improperly sized equipment could be to blame. Leaky ductwork can also cause these problems, so having it sealed may be a solution. Monthly maintenance of your heating and cooling equipment's filters may also help. See "Properly Sized Equipment and Quality Installation," "Sealing Your Ducts" or "Maintaining Your Equipment."
- Your cooling system is noisy. Your duct system could be improperly sized or there may be a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment. See "Sealing Your Ducts" or "Maintaining Your Equipment."
- 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. See "Maintaining Your Equipment" or "Choosing the Right Equipment."
- Your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 12 years old. Consider replacing it with newer, more efficient equipment. And remember, high efficiency levels begin with ENERGY STAR. See "Choosing the Right Equipment."
- Your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old. Consider replacing with ENERGY STAR qualified equipment. ENERGY STAR has set high efficiency guidelines for both furnaces and boilers. See "Choosing the Right Equipment."
- You leave your thermostat set at one constant temperature. You could be missing a great energy-saving opportunity. A programmable thermostat adjusts your home's temperature at times when you're regularly away or sleeping. See "Choosing the Right Equipment - Programmable Thermostats."
- Your score on the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick is below five. That means you're using more energy at home than most Americans and probably paying more than you need to on energy bills. Get personalized recommendations to improve your home and/or heating and cooling system.