Energy Efficient, Heating and Cooling.
Residential heating and cooling has come a long way in recent years. Equipment that came into service ten years ago or more, uses much more energy than today’s high efficiency systems. The reason for this is the development of innovative new technologies:
Old technology heating involves the expensive process of blowing air over resistance strip heaters. A new technology heat pump works like a fridge, which extracts heat from an already colder place and moves it to a warmer place. It is an air conditioner that reverses the process of removing heat from the inside of the house in summer to extracting heat from the cold outdoors and moving it inside, during the heating season. This efficient heating process uses much less energy than blowing air over resistance heating strips. The operating costs of a heat pump and an air conditioner are similar during the summer months, but the energy costs for a heat pump are generally 30% to 40% less during winter than a conventional air conditioner and separate electric heating system.
Dual speed compressors.
Unlike old technology compressors that can only operate at full capacity, two-speed compressors allow heat pumps to operate close to the heating or cooling capacity needed at any particular moment. This saves large amounts of electrical energy and reduces compressor wear.
Zone control systems.
Old technology single zone systems meant that all parts of a home were conditioned, even if some were not being used. New technology zone control systems use automatic dampers to allow the system to keep different rooms at different temperatures, or to completely stop conditioning unused parts of a home.
Old technology single fan speed systems were set to take care of the hottest day of the year. This meant that for the 364 cooler days in the year, the fan would run at an unnecessarily high speed which wasted energy. New technology heat pumps are equipped with variable-speed or dual-speed motors on their indoor fans (blowers), outdoor fans, or both. The variable-speed controls for these fans attempt to keep the air moving at a comfortable velocity, minimizing cool drafts, and maximizing electrical savings. It also minimizes the noise from the blower running at full speed.
Old technology cooling system condensers expel heat out into the air, which is a waste of energy. Old technology hot water heaters consume enormous amounts of electrical energy to heat water. New technology high-efficiency heat pumps are equipped with a desuperheater, which recovers heat pump condenser waste heat from the condenser, when in the cooling mode, and uses it to heat water. A desuperheater-equipped heat pump can heat water 2 to 3 times more efficiently than an ordinary electric water heater.
Old technology heating and cooling system piston compressors, are inefficient and use an unnecessary amount of energy. New technology heat pumps have scroll compressors, which have a longer operating life and are quieter. According to some reports, heat pumps with scroll compressors provide 10° to 15°F warmer air when in the heating mode, compared to heat pumps with piston compressors.
Heat pumps are powered by electricity. You can compare efficiencies of different heat pump models by checking the HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) for heating efficiency and SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for cooling efficiency. The published ratings provide a standardized method for comparing how much heating or cooling comfort you get for the electricity you use. Using these ratings is a lot like miles per gallon for your car – the higher the number, the more efficient the product and the greater potential for savings. Old technology systems had HSPF ratings of 7 or lower, and SEER ratings of 10 and lower. Latest technology systems now deliver HSPF ratings of up to 13 and SEER ratings of up to 21.
Old technology systems removed humidity from a home’s air inefficiently when cooling, and were unable to remove humidity when not active. New technology systems cancontrol humidity levels even when a system is not actively heating or cooling. This technology continually monitors indoor humidity, indoor and outdoor temperature, and has the ability to turn on the system just for dehumidification. This means that a home’s occupants can feel cooler at higher temperatures in the summer and warmer at lower temperatures in the winter which means that the thermostat can be at higher settings in summer and lower settings in winter, while still feeling comfortable and saving energy at the same time.
R-22 Freon is the common name for hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). R-22 has been used as a refrigerant by air conditioning manufacturers for over 40 years, but studies in the past decade have shown that HCFCs contain chlorine, an ozone-depleting agent. For this reason, the United States Clean Air Act prohibits HVAC manufacturers from producing products that use R-22. Freon is also an inefficient refrigerant. New technology systems use a much more efficient refrigerant called Puron, also known as R-410A, which is environmentally sound and does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Old technology systems are controlled by a manual thermostat, which is usually set at 77°F in the summer and 68°F during the winter, to ensure your comfort while moving around in your home. These comfortable temperatures are maintained even while you are out of the home, or under the covers while asleep in bed, which is unnecessary and a waste of energy. New technology systems allow you to save energy, by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. A programmable thermostat allows you to do this automatically, without sacrificing comfort or having to remember, or be inconvenienced to do this. Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you wake or return home.
Even though it is hotter, comfort is maintained in dry climate homes because of lower levels of humidity. Old technology systems are unable to measure or respond to levels of humidity in a home. This means that low levels of relative humidity are not taken advantage of by allowing the air conditioner to work less while still providing comfort. The result is a waste of energy. New technology systems are able to save energy, using an adjustable humidistat. This device measures the relative humidity in the air around it, and cycles the unit on and off to maintain its pre-set moisture level. The energy saving arises because it operates only when required, rather than operating continuously, although continuous operation is an option if needed. Most people choose a level of relative humidity between 45% and 55%. Any level between 30% and 70% is comfortable, although the lower half of this range will make it “feel” a little cooler and prompt them to raise the thermostat set point.
Will Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling help you to save energy costs?
Whether it will or not depends on the age of your home and its envelope components, the way it was constructed and has been maintained, the amount of insulation and air leakage there is in its outer envelope, as well as the number and size of windows, and many other factors. This is where we can help. In conjunction with the guidelines of the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), we follow the LEED for HOMES Whole House Approach, which not only considers one stand-alone Green Energy Efficient Home Improvement, but also its relationship to all the other elements that impact the energy aspects of your home.
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