Going “green” has been the go-to catchphrase of the past decade. Companies have responded to growing fears of climate change by turning their hand to reducing their carbon footprint; public relations campaigns have encouraged customers to reduce the waste they produce and live in energy-efficient houses.
The HVAC industry has had a difficult time becoming truly green. Until advancements in technology come along, heating and cooling systems will need to use refrigerants and chemicals that aren’t easy to create or dispose of. And large appliances, like your home furnace and central air conditioning system, take a lot of energy to run – energy that isn’t typically supplied by renewable resources.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to increase the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. There are many different steps that you, as the homeowner, can take to reduce the carbon footprint of your HVAC system.
Did you know that half of the energy usage in your home goes to your heating and cooling systems? That means that your HVAC system is also one of the biggest costs on your energy bill. One of the most significant benefits to increasing the efficiency of your HVAC system is the cost savings. With increased efficiency, your HVAC system uses less energy and reduces the strain it puts on your wallet.
With the rise of the modern environmentalist movement, saving the environment has become a necessity of operating in day-to-day society. Most Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about the health of the planet and the drying up of finite resources.
With a green HVAC system and a greener home, you can rest assured that you’re doing your part to save the planet. Going green has become an expected social responsibility of being an American in the 21st century. Being environmentally responsible in HVAC usage feels great, and, as your HVAC technician in Gaithersburg can tell you, it’s not hard to do either.
Smart thermostats are one of the biggest advances in HVAC technology in the past few decades. These thermostats allow you to connect remotely to your HVAC system via your phone and can actually learn your habits and adjust your system accordingly. For example, by answering a few questions on your phone, your system will learn that you are gone during the day Monday through Friday. The thermostat will then automatically create a temperature setback during the hours that you aren’t home to optimize efficiency.
But that’s not all. A smart thermostat can also tell when you’ve passed through a geofence. This means that if you go out for dinner, your home isn’t filling with the energy-wasting cold air that you aren’t there to enjoy. Instead, your smart thermostat senses when you’ve passed through the geofence and automatically adjusts the internal temperature of the home. When you pass back through the geofence on your way home, the thermostat readjusts to the desired temperature.
By automatically adjusting the temperature, your smart thermostat can save you big bucks on your energy bill. You aren’t paying for the energy used to cool your home when you don’t need it, and you’re creating a more efficient system that has a smaller carbon footprint. While smart thermostats have become much easier to install, you can also contact your HVAC technician in Gaithersburg for help installing the system.
Let’s consider a common scenario. You recently bought a home with a medium-efficiency air conditioner. It’s only about 9 years old and has a SEER rating of 16. So, it’s not considered high efficient but is better than the cheapest furnace out there. Many Gaithersburg HVAC technicians get calls from homeowners asking if they should upgrade their HVAC equipment to something more efficient. This is a complicated question.
Typically, we don’t advocate for replacing something that doesn’t need to be replaced. Repairs are often more environmentally friendly because they don’t require the manufacturing and transportation costs that a brand-new furnace does. Unless you have a heating and cooling system that is over 20 years old and is showing signs of slowing down or breaking, it’s a better idea to work with what you have than to take on the costs, both environmental and fiscal, of replacing a large system that doesn’t need to be replaced.
Many times, our Gaithersburg HVAC technicians in will get a phone call from homeowners who ask the same question. “I shut off my air conditioning during the day and turn it on when I get home from work. Why am I not saving any money?”
One of the biggest myths out there is that shutting off your air conditioning or heating during the day is energy efficient. Too often homeowners will do this only to see a spike in their electric bill that month. That’s because when you allow your home to overheat during the day, your HVAC system has to work twice as hard that evening to make up the difference and bring your home back down to the desired temperature. This requires twice as much energy. To truly be energy efficient, it’s a good idea to set your thermostat five to eight degrees higher or lower (depending on the season) when you leave for the day.
Another energy efficiency myth is that buying a highly efficient HVAC system will make a low-efficiency home greener. To truly have an energy-efficient household, you need to go to the source of the problem. Sure, that high-efficiency furnace will use less energy than a 30-year-old dinosaur of a furnace—but if you have drafty windows or poor insulation, all of that efficiently produced heat will go right out of your home.
High-efficiency air filters aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be, either. Oftentimes, high-efficiency air filters can actually decrease the efficiency of your home. Air filters that claim to catch mold spores, dust, allergens, and other pollutants need to be extremely dense. Without the density, they wouldn’t be able to catch half of the air pollutants they claim. While these filters are great for indoor air quality, the density of the filter blocks air from flowing through your HVAC system. This means the system requires more energy to push air through the ducts, thereby decreasing your efficiency.
While it can be difficult to create a truly green HVAC system, there are some actions you can take to make your system more efficient. Installing a smart thermostat is a great low-effort way to reduce the amount of energy used when heating/cooling your home when you aren’t there. The wintertime is also a great time of year to evaluate any areas in your home that are drafty. If you notice cold spots near windows or doors, hang drapes in front of leaking windows and install draft stoppers at the bottoms of doors.
Another way to increase the efficiency of your HVAC system is with regular maintenance. Work with your Gaithersburg HVAC technician to put your HVAC system on a schedule that works for you. The fall and spring seasons are the perfect time of year for HVAC repairs as the systems are used less often during the milder months. Regular maintenance ensures that the system is running as smoothly as possible, air filters are being changed, and the heat exchanger isn’t covered in dirt and dust.
When was the last time your HVAC system received a tune-up? Go green. Sign up for regular HVAC maintenance today.
79.95 HVAC Inspection 16 Point Efficiency Inspection, cost per unit.