How Can An HVAC Upgrade Improve My Energy Consumption?

by R.F. Ohl
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According to figures published in the 2010 Buildings Energy Data Book, space heating alone accounts for about 45% of the total energy used in most homes. The good news is overall energy consumed by households across the country has fallen over the last two decades, according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), which also states that increased energy efficiency awareness has played a big role in reducing energy consumption by domestic consumers. One way of reducing energy consumption is by upgrading your HVAC system. Keep reading to learn more about this topic.

SEER vs cooling cost savings

Minimize the Risk of Breakdown

Any mechanical device is likely to operate inefficiently due to wear and tear. By upgrading your HVAC system, you would be able to keep it in good working condition and ultimately lower your domestic energy bill. A study carried out by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) found that inefficient evaporator coils and condenser can increase energy consumption by as much as 30%. Meanwhile, figures from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) show that this can easily translate to $1,080 in a single cooling season. An upgrade would also save you the trouble of hiring an ac contractor to fix your old and worn out system. Considering a heating and cooling system has an average lifespan between 10 to 15 years, an upgrade is essential if you have an older system at home.

Better Resource Efficiency

A cooling and heating system does not operate in isolation from other household fixtures. In most cases, homeowners will likely upgrade attic and wall insulation to reduce loss of heat. This is in addition to sealing heating and cooling ducts. According to statistics published by Energy Star, the average house loses at least 20% of conditioned air due to holes present throughout the ducts. Other areas around the home that leak air include basements and crawlspaces. It is advisable to use insulation with high R-values to ensure you get the best performance. By sealing these holes and draft proofing your home, you will reduce energy consumption and the heating load as well. The same is true when you upgrade insulation throughout your home.

Greater Control

An upgrade can give you greater control of energy use at home. For instance, a programmable heating and cooling control system will make it easy for you to control temperatures inside your home. For example, you can automatically turn off heating when you are not at home to avoid wasting energy. Figures published by the Space Heating Technology Atlas show regulating energy use can result in savings of up to 35%.

Choosing the Right HVAC Contractor

In order to enjoy these benefits, you need to hire the right contractor to upgrade your heating and cooling system. Some of the factors to consider before making your choice include the following:

Saving money with an efficient air conditionerExperience and Qualifications

Go for a contractor with years of experience installing, repairing, and upgrading heating and cooling systems. A contractor who has been in business for long is likely to have many satisfied clients. The opposite is true for a contractor who offers crappy service and fleeces customers. You should also find out if the contractor holds the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification. It shows that the contractor has the expertise, academic qualifications, and skills to work in the industry. Professional association membership shows you are dealing with someone who takes professionalism seriously. Reputable organizations include the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractor’s National Association (SMACNA).

Reputation

A contractor can have excellent qualifications and experience, but still have a bad reputation. Find out how the contractor handles client complaints. To start with, visit the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and check out the rating given to the contractor as well as number of complaints. A low rating (BBB rates businesses starting from A+ to F) shows that you are likely to receive the same service as past clients. Secondly, ask the contractor to give you references that you can call. Ask them if they would consider hiring the same contractor in the future. If negative comments and issues crop up, consider taking your business elsewhere.

Customer Service

The way a business treats and interacts with customers is a good indicator of attention you can expect to receive. If the business has an office near your home, visit it and observe how employees treat clients. Prominently displayed community service awards and customer service awards show that the business values customers. If the contractor has a website, find out if it is easy to get in touch with the technical support team via email, instant messaging (IM), or web chat.

Contract

Never work with a contractor who does not provide clients with a written contract. It is always wise to read the contract carefully and have a qualified lawyer look at it to ensure there are no nasty surprises hidden in the small print. It should state clearly the upgrade work and cost. Pay close attention to “mechanics lien” — refers to security in your property’s title for the benefit of workers and subcontractors working to repair your heating and cooling system. It is advisable to have the contractor sign a release of lien before making any payment related to the upgrade work.

Air conditioning systems play a big role in making homes comfortable. However, they can breakdown or even operate inefficiently resulting in high utility bills. When this happens, you need to hire a qualified Allentown PA HVAC contractor to upgrade your system. Benefits of upgrading include lower energy bills, low risk of breakdowns, and greater control of energy consumption. When it comes to choosing the right contractor, consider factors such as customer service, experience, and reputation.

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