energy savings Category
Back-to-school energy savings can be a good opportunity to recoup some of those higher summer costs. There’s no doubt that this time of year is a more moderate energy season here in Ohio. As the daily hours of air conditioning use—a major electrical consumer in most households—began to drop, you’ll get a break in monthly utility bills. Later in the fall, as cooler weather arrives, heating expenses begin to come into the picture. But for right now, back-to-school energy savings can provide welcome relief from the summer’s higher bills. Here are some ways to take maximum advantage of the season.
Change The Filter
Don’t go into the new season with an HVAC air filter that’s clogged from long days of summer air conditioner operation. In most central systems, the air conditioner and furnace utilize the same filter. Low airflow due to an obstructed filter can cause both cooling and heating costs to climb drastically, as well as decreasing system performance. Change the filter now and check it monthly as the heating season arrives, changing it at least every other month.
Adjust Thermostat Schedule
If your thermostat is still operating on summer schedules, it may be running the system more hours per day than necessary. Usually, back-to-school means the house is less occupied during daylight hours and so doesn’t require the extended summer schedule for air conditioning. Also, as cooler outdoor weather begins to arrive, you’ll be able to bump up temperature settings a few degrees without affecting indoor comfort. For every degree you increase the thermostat setting, you can reduce A/C expenses by up to 4%.
Get Annual Preventive Maintenance
This transitional period is the time to schedule an annual system check-up by a qualified HVAC technician. The process includes a complete inspection as well as a list of manufacturer-recommended maintenance procedures that sustain optimum energy efficiency and lower operating costs during the coming months, as well as ensuring reliable operation.
Ask the experts at Apollo Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing about more ways to maximize back-to-school energy savings.
Whether this winter is severe or something less, efforts to control energy costs will always pay off. Taking proactive control of those factors you can do something about will produce both immediate and long-term benefits. Lower monthly costs, greater indoor comfort and less wear and tear on your heating system are among them. Here are some effective ways to control energy costs this winter:
- Program the thermostat. Make sure your programmable thermostat is set to reflect the different comfort requirements and household occupancy patterns of winter. Nights are longer, allowing you to set a longer sustained overnight temperature for sleeping. Mornings are colder and require pre-warming the house. Kids back in school and parents working often permit programming lower temps during daytime spans when the house is empty.
- Change the filter. This is a year-round task but particularly important in winter. A dirty filter restricts system airflow. Adequate furnace airflow is necessary to continuously circulate the proper volume of heat to maintain a comfortable temperature. When airflow drops below specs, the furnace runs longer to compensate and heating costs spiral up. Another reason to maintain proper airflow: it protects the furnace heat exchanger—a critical and very expensive safety component—from overheating and cracking.
- Open all vents. Closing heating vents in under-utilized rooms doesn’t save money. Your furnace doesn’t know that vents are closed and still runs just as long to maintain the household thermostat setting. In addition, closing vents unbalances the distribution of heat through the entire ductwork. Rooms further from the furnace may become chronically chilly—causing occupants to crank up the thermostat—while rooms closer to the furnace may be uncomfortably warm.
- Stop air leakage. Heat energy naturally moves from a warmer zone into a cooler zone. That means that air leaks around doors and windows are costing you money as indoor heat escapes to the outdoors. Check for cold drafts around doors and windows that indicate worn weatherstripping. Replace with new foam or vinyl weatherstripping.
For more advice on how to control energy costs this winter, contact the heating professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.
Patterns of household energy consumption vary according to season, so it’s not surprising that winter has it’s own distinctive energy saving tips. Many useful energy saving tips cost you nothing, others require a small investment that will likely pay for itself after a few Ohio winters—both in added comfort and lower energy costs.
- Adjust the thermostat. If you’re using a programmable thermostat, while the house is occupied winter temperatures should range between 68 and 70 degrees. Most people feel comfortable at that temperature in winter and it’s also the most energy-efficient setting to warm the house to after lower overnight temperatures.
- Take advantage of the sun. Keep drapes and blinds on the sunny side of the house open during daylight hours to admit solar energy through window glass. Heat energy escapes back out through windows just as easily at night, however, so as the sun goes down close drapes and blinds to keep heat in the house.
- Utilize ceiling fans. If you have one, switch the directional setting to the “Clockwise” or “Reverse” mode. In this setting, the fan pulls air up from the floor and across the ceiling. This pushes the layer of rising hot air that naturally accumulates at the ceiling back down into the room to warm occupants.
- Seal air leaks. If the feel cold drafts around doors, replace worn weatherstripping in the door jamb and/or the rubber threshold that seals under the door. Also replace worn weatherstripping between moveable surfaces of windows. Look for air gaps anywhere plumbing pipes or electrical conduits enter the house and where vents pass through the ceiling. Straight gaps or cracks 1/4 inch or less wide can be filled with silicone caulk; for larger, irregular openings you can use spray foam insulation in a can.
- Light wisely. If you’re still using any conventional incandescent bulbs, replace them with compact fluorescent bulbs or LEDs. Thinking of stringing lights for holiday decorations? Buy LED strings that last longer and use less electricity.
Contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more winter energy saving tips
The electronics you’ve added to your household in recent years may be high technology, but is your home’s aging breaker box out of date? It may belong to a low tech era. If your house is more than 25 years old, chances are it’s still equipped with a main electrical service panel and circuit breakers that aren’t adequate for the electrical demands of today.
Breaker Box Out of Date? The Signs…
Upgrading the breaker box doesn’t mean you have to rewire the entire house. Breaker boxes are a separate component installed and readily replaced without the expense of changing existing wiring. But, how do you know if the breaker box in your home may be out of date? Here are some scenarios that can help you decide:
- Circuit breakers trip often without any known cause. This could be a safety issue in addition to an inconvenience and should be brought to the attention of a qualified electrician immediately.
- After circuit breakers trip, they will not remain reset for long. If a reset breaker simply trips again in a few moments and there’s no short or other malfunction on the circuit, this is another sign that the panel itself may be defective and requires upgrade.
- You need to unplug or turn off certain appliances in order to turn on others or you may trip a circuit breaker. A properly sized breaker box should be able to accommodate all electrical demands in the house at all times, plus offer some reserve capacity for future demands.
- Burning odors or smell of hot wiring around the breaker box. If you smell an acrid, burning odor from the panel and/or notice that circuit breakers are hot to the touch, call an electrician immediately. Faulty outdated service panels are implicated in more than 2,000 house fires a year.
- You have plans to remodel or add extra rooms in the future. Adding additional load to an already outdated breaker panel is a guarantee of future electrical problems. Make upgrading the panel part of your renovation project.
For a professional evaluation of your home’s breaker box and current electrical demands, contact the electricians at Apollo Home Electrical, Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
As the seasons change, so should your ceiling fan direction. Ceiling fans are bi-directional and rotation can be altered by a switch on the side of the motor or a setting on the remote control. All ceiling fans move air, but direction matters for both comfort and energy efficiency. Here’s how proper ceiling fan direction varies by season:
In hot weather, a ceiling fan should blow straight down. This pushes air down onto occupants in the room, creating a small-scale, indoor version of the “chill factor” that makes a windy day feel cooler than a calm day. Simply by moving air in the room with a ceiling fan, you can set your air conditioner thermostat higher and gain energy savings—without any decrease in perceived comfort to occupants. As the weather warms up, set the directional switch to the “Counter-clockwise” or “Summer” setting. If the fan is rotating in the correct direction for summer, you should be able to feel a slight breeze when standing directly beneath it.
During winter, a ceiling fan helps redistribute heat to aid home furnace function. Hot air naturally rises and accumulates at the ceiling, where it provides little warmth to occupants of a room. A ceiling fan set for winter operation draws air up from the room below. As this air passes through the fan and is pushed across the ceiling, it disperses the layer of accumulated hot air out to the walls, then down into the room to augment comfort. To help enhance heating, set the directional switch on the fan to the “Clockwise” or “Winter” function.
Remember that ceiling fans only enhance comfort to occupants—people or pets—of a room. If nobody’s in the room, there’s no benefit to running a ceiling fan in any season. Always turn off ceiling fans in unoccupied rooms.
Ask the professionals at Apollo Home for more information about installing a ceiling fan or making sure your ceiling fan direction is properly set for the season.
When you have unoccupied or under-used rooms in your house, closing air vents in those rooms is an energy-saving strategy that seems to make sense. This conclusion is usually based on three false assumptions:
- Less heat going into rooms means furnace energy consumption is reduced.
- Heat obstructed by closed vents in an unoccupied room is simply redistributed to occupied rooms.
- It is only hot air, so there is no harm to equipment in shutting off the air flow.
Here are the facts countering those assumptions. Closing air vents is not recommended by HVAC experts. It does not save energy and can actually upset the supply and return airflow balance throughout the rest of the house. Closing air vents in some rooms could even damage critical furnace components. Consider the assumptions one at a time:
- A furnace has no way to know that vents in any room are open or closed. Your furnace just keeps on faithfully producing the same British Thermal Units (BTUs) of heat output—and consuming the same amount of energy—as it was designed to do. Net result: no energy savings.
- When air vents are closed, heat is not necessarily redistributed to the nearest room where vents are open. Sometimes, it is distributed into your attic, crawl space or within your interior walls. Residential ductwork is notoriously leaky and typically spills at least 20 percent of the heat it is supposed to deliver. Closing supply vents increases air pressure inside the ducts, forcing an even greater volume of heated air out through leaks into unconditioned zones of the house. To compensate for lost heating, the furnace runs longer cycles, increasing heating costs.
- Vital furnace components require a minimum return airflow volume to maintain safe internal temperature. Closing supply air vents in rooms reduces return airflow, potentially overheating the heat exchanger—the most expensive component in the system—and causing cracks to develop. A defective heat exchanger can even pose a safety hazard due to carbon monoxide (CO) infiltration.
For more effective ways to save on heating costs than closing air vents, contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
When adding attic insulation, homeowners commonly have two choices: fiberglass batts or blown-in cellulose. It’s an important decision because the attic is an important target area for effective insulation. In winter, rising heat in rooms conducts through the ceiling into the attic, causing your furnace to run longer to compensate, raising heating costs. In summer, concentrated heat in the attic radiates down into living spaces and overworks your A/C. Adding attic insulation of the right type and quantity makes a difference in indoor comfort and efficiency year-round. Here’s why blown-in is often the best choice.
Fiberglass batts roll out between ceiling joists and must be cut and patched in an attempt to fill the many odd-shaped nooks and crannies in a typical attic. Cellulose is a loose-fill product composed of millions of bits of pulverized paper treated with fire retardant. Blown into your attic under air pressure, cellulose effectively fills every void of any shape, large or small, for comprehensive coverage to fully inhibit heat transfer. Once installed, cellulose has the coverage density and appearance of a layer of new-fallen snow.
The efficiency of an insulating material is rated by its R value. “R” stands for resistance and the numeral assigned indicates the material’s effectiveness at inhibiting heat transfer. Fiberglass insulation has an R value averaging 3.2 per inch of depth. Cellulose offers an R value of 3.8 per inch—a significant improvement indicating greater heat resistance than fiberglass.
Reduced Air Leakage
No form of insulation is an adequate replacement for proper air sealing to prevent air leakage. However, a layer of cellulose does slow air moving in and out of the attic, while fiberglass insulation has no effect at all.
Fiberglass insulation is made from new raw materials. High-temperature gas-fired furnaces are required to melt and spin the mineral fibers into the finished product. Cellulose is 75 percent recycled paper and cloth and the manufacturing process is far less energy-intensive.
Thinking about adding attic insulation to increase energy efficiency and indoor comfort? Contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
With the new standards of energy efficiency in water heaters these days, you may actually not be saving money by waiting to replace your old water heater. Old water heaters are much less energy efficient, both because they are aging and because standards were lower back then, which could mean more money you’re paying each month in energy costs compared to a newer heater.
It’s generally accepted that most water heaters last an average of about 13 years. If yours is anywhere close to that, it probably uses a lot more energy than modern water heaters. Ten years ago, hot water accounted for about a quarter of the typical home’s energy use; today, with more efficient heaters, it’s only about 18 percent. Therefore, anyone with a water heater that is seven or more years old will probably save money in the long run by replacing the water heater with a newer, more efficient model.
If getting a new water heater isn’t an option for you, there are other ways to make your old one more efficient and save you a little money on heating costs. Here are a few more ways you can enjoy water heating savings.
- Have heat traps installed. If it doesn’t already have them, heat traps on your tank could reduce your bill by as much as $15 to $30.
- Invest in low-flow faucets and shower heads. Anything pre-1992 lets too much water through. By having new low-flow faucets installed, you could actually save up to 60% on your water bill, in addition to the energy savings associated with using less hot water.
- Insulate, insulate, insulate. Having everything insulated, from the hot water tank itself to the pipes that carry the hot water out of the heater, can help cut costs by preserving the heat in both the tank and the pipes.
Do you want to save money and feel good about helping the environment at the same time? Contact Cincinnati-based Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more information about how replacing your water heater can help you cut energy costs.
Finding ways to save money isn’t usually an easy feat. There are some costs that are simply unavoidable, particularly when it comes to the operations of your home. That said, there are also a lot of ways that energy-efficiency upgrades can help you get a little more bang for your buck.
Here are our top picks for energy-efficiency upgrades that are well worth their investments:
- Air Sealing & Insulation. Removing the gaps and holes where air seep into and out of the house will help keep your home safe from humid Cincinnati summers and frigid Midwestern winters. Money‘s article “The Best Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Your Money” explains how reinforcing the outside layers of your home can lead to even greater savings down the line when it’s time to purchase a new boiler unit or air conditioning system.
- Programmable Thermostats. Many of the homes in our beautiful Queen City were built many years ago. If you have a house with a little bit of age on it, you might be missing out on easy savings by not cashing in on upgraded technology. You may be able to save up to 10% by installing a modern thermostat that can take care of temperatures whether you are at home or not.
- Low-Flow Features. You might be surprised about how much water is potentially wasted in your home just by doing every day things like flushing the toilet. Installing low-flow faucets and toilets in your home can help you achieve significant annual savings on your water bill, and when tax time rolls around, you may find that these easy upgrades make you eligible for the government’s ENERGY STAR rebates.
- New Heating & Cooling Systems. Sometimes, it is simply time for the big investment. If you need a new heating or cooling system, the right investment should keep your house happy and efficient for many years to come.
Would you like to know which energy-efficiency upgrades would be the best investments for your home? Call our team at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing today to schedule your home’s energy audit.
With another hot, humid season on the way, now’s the perfect time to make some energy efficiency preparations around the home to increase comfort and reduce energy consumption. These summer energy saving tips can help you get started.?
Book an energy audit – A professional energy audit can provide an in-depth look at your home’s efficiency to help you determine where to make strategic improvements. You may learn that you need to augment attic insulation, or seal the home’s envelope to stop conditioned air losses.?
Get the ductwork sealed – Having a pro seal the joins and insulate ducting in unconditioned areas like the attic or basement can help prevent the loss of up to 30 percent of the A/C’s output.?
Have a programmable thermostat installed – Choose one that matches your HVAC equipment and weekly schedule, and program it around your daily routine. By setting 10- to 15-degree temperature setbacks for eight hours or more a day, you can save energy without any loss of comfort.?
Reduce heat gain through the windows – Add energy efficient curtains, shades or blinds and close them during the day to limit heat gain and reduce the air conditioner’s cooling load.?
Turn on your ceiling fans – Make sure the blades are set to spin counter-clockwise and you’ll feel a cooling wind chill effect. This boost in comfort can let you program in thermostat temperature setting increases of about four degrees to save on energy consumption.?
Don’t add to the cooling system’s workload – Cook in the microwave or outdoors on the grill instead of using the oven. Hang dry laundry to take advantage of free solar heat instead of using the clothes dryer, and let clean dishes air dry instead of hitting the “heated dry” cycle on the dishwasher.?
Help your A/C work efficiently – Schedule professional air conditioner maintenance before the weather heats up to ensure your cooling system is operating efficiently. To maintain maximum efficiency throughout the summer, check the air filter monthly and replace it as needed.
To learn more summer energy saving tips, contact the Cincinnati home comfort experts at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.