Zoned heating and cooling systems

Do you live where you heat? Most of us spend our time at home in a small number of rooms: the kitchen and living room, the bathroom and bedroom. But we also have closets and crawlspaces, guest rooms and garages. ask men Too often, we pay to heat and cool rooms we don’t live in. Zoned heating and cooling systems solve that problem.

digital thermostat

If your home only has one thermostat you’re probably heating and cooling empty rooms and wasting money. Zoned heating and cooling systems keep a convenient single control panel but add multiple zones for your living, sleeping, working, and cooking spaces.

You can control these zones independently, adjusting the temperatures to heat and cool the rooms you live in, the way you live in them. No more wasted energy on those empty rooms, and no more wasted money on your energy bills.

Is zoned heating and cooling the right choice for you? Get your home’s full energy assessment today: it’s fast and accurate and will give you actionable information to take the next step. Click here to use your assessment data and save even more time.

Want more ideas on how to save money on your home energy costs? Just sign up for our Home Energy Performance Newsletter. It’s full of the information and ideas you need to make your home less expensive to operate and more comfortable – and healthier – to live in.

Weatherization

What is weatherization?

Weatherization is the process of protecting your home and family from the elements. Weatherization takes place both inside and outside the home, and can also include projects in your yard. The goal of any weatherization project is to reduce convective heat transfer: the unwanted transfer of heat from one part of the home to another.

Heat loss in an average home

If you’ve ever caught a chill from being in a drafty room in the winter, you’ve experienced an unwanted convective heat transfer. The heat in the room is “escaping” and the air temperature is decreasing. In this case, you could put on a sweater. But a better decision is to address the room’s heat transfer with a weatherization project.

What does weatherization do?

An effective weatherization project will prevent convective heat transfer. The result should be a room with a stable and predictable air temperature. You and your family will notice the improvement right away, when your rooms are more comfortable in heating season and all year ’round.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy,

The benefits of weatherization begin with reducing the energy bills of recipients for a long period of time. Some measures, such as insulating walls or roofs, for example, can provide savings for the lifetime of a house—30 years or more. Other measures, such as making heating or cooling equipment more efficient, will provide savings for 10–15 years. On average, the value of the weatherization improvements is 2.2 times greater than the cost. (“What is Weatherization?“)

That’s a healthy savings for anyone!

Do it yourself weatherization projects

There are several weatherization projects that anyone can complete with a few basic tools and the right materials.

Weatherization rebate and assistance programs

  • Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program provides grants to states, territories, and some Indian tribes to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. These governments, in turn, contract with local governments and nonprofit agencies to provide weatherization services to those in need using the latest technologies for home energy upgrades.
  • WAPTAC: Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center is a detailed reference site for Weatherization Assistance Program professionals and homeowners who want to find the technical information about their programs.
  • The National Association of State Energy Officials State and Territory Energy Offices map has state contact information for homeowners interested in finding weatherization resources and programs in their communities.
  • Utility companies and co-ops often have rebates or low-interest loans available for homeowners who want to use home performance contractors for a weatherization project. Check the inserts in your billing statement, or the utility’s website, for information about available weatherization and home energy efficiency rebates and programs.

Additional weatherization resources

  • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit organization that advocates for energy efficiency “to achieve greater economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection” for all Americans. Their residential energy resource portal includes information on home energy efficiency, weatherization, and the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings.
  • The Environmental Defense Fund develops policy and business models to improve energy efficiency, grow the economy, and help consumers save money on their home energy costs. Their energy efficiency resources page features studies of the benefits of weatherization, and includes a discussion of on-bill repayment programs for home improvement loans. These programs are becoming more common for homeowners who want to undertake weatherization projects but might not qualify for federal or state assistance.

Is your home ready for fall weather?

We know that you can’t predict the weather, but the change of seasons is just around the corner. With fall comes cooler temperatures, rain and wind, and extreme weather like hurricanes, tornadoes, and snow and ice storms. Fortunately, you can prepare your home and family for anything the season brings by taking a few simple steps this weekend. Here are our newest fall home weatherization tips:

A house in fall.

Fall weatherization of your home’s exterior

Got a drafty room? Over time, houses “settle” and gaps or cracks can appear between windows and doors, where materials and walls meet, or along your foundation where pipes or conduits enter the home. Check these areas of your home to prevent heat loss. If your exterior doors are weather stripped, check that the seal is tight and your strip and threshold are clean.

Moisture is your home’s enemy, especially in the winter when pipes can freeze and crack. Double check your water pipes and be sure to have your lawn sprinkler system flushed and turned off before the first frost.

If your home has rain gutters, now is the time to make sure they are clean and free of debris. You can also install a rain gutter guard in an afternoon, which will help keep leaves and debris out of your gutters.

Fall weatherization of your home’s interior

Check for air leakage around your window and door frames. If you can feel a draft, use transparent weather sealing tape to seal the gaps between the frame and wall.

Cozy fall fireplace

If you’re looking forward to curling up in front of a fire when the weather turns cool, be sure to hire a licensed chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney, flue, and fireplace.

Examine your HVAC system. It might be time to clean your filters, or replace them. . If your system is older, hire a certified HVAC professional to check it out and tune it up. Your professional technician can also help you identify inefficient or worn out parts of your system so you can get peak heating performance throughout the fall and winter.

Take care of your home’s weatherization needs before the fall weather hits, and you’ll keep your home comfortable for your family all season long.

What is a programmable thermostat?

One of the most effective ways to control your home heating and cooling costs is to use a programmable thermostat to monitor your HVAC system and maintain a comfortable temperature in your rooms. According to Consumer Reports’ Top Thermostat Reviews,

Programmable thermostats can trim about $180 a year from your energy bill by automatically reducing your heating or cooling when you need it least. Some thermostats tested by Consumer Reports were easy to set and use but others were so complicated that you might end up spending more on energy, not less.

Every family lives differently in their homes, so the programmable thermostat your neighbor just installed may not be the best choice for you. Finding the correct equipment for your home and family is part of what’s called “right sizing” an HVAC system. This means just what it sounds like: designing, installing, testing, and maintaining the appropriate equipment to maximize your family’s comfort and health, and minimize your home heating and cooling energy bills.

What is a programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat is a sensor connected to your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system. It can turn your HVAC system on and off, in order to maintain a comfortable temperature. There are many different types of programmable thermostats, but they all work according to the same principles.

A basic programmable thermostat from Honeywell

What are the benefits of a programmable thermostat?

Set it and forget it! If you have a regular thermostat in your home you might find yourself adjusting it several times a day, as you leave for work and come home, or when you go to sleep and wake up. The most basic programmable thermostats will do this for you. All you have to do is input a time of day and temperature. Your new thermostat will take care of the work.

More advanced programmable thermostats are sometimes called “learning thermostat” title=”learning thermostats” target=”_blank”>learning thermostats.” Learning thermostats are basic programmable thermostats with additional sensors and software. The sensors are activated when you or your family move in and out of rooms. Software connected to the sensors then activates your HVAC system to raise or lower the room temperature to the comfortable level you programmed into the thermostat. Over time, these thermostats learn when you are home and when you are away, and program themselves to manage your HVAC system for you. Some of them are even connected to the Internet, so you can use your laptop or phone to control your home’s temperature while you’re away.

Is a programmable or learning thermostat the right choice for you? Get your home’s full heating energy assessment today: it’s fast and accurate and will give you actionable information to take the next step.

Want more ideas on how to save money on your home energy costs? Just sign up for our Home Energy Performance Newsletter. It’s full of the information and ideas you need to make your home less expensive to operate and more comfortable – and healthier – to live in.

Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning: HVAC

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are one of the best places to look for savings in your home. If your heater or air conditioner are more than 10 years old, if you think they’re running a lot, or if you can take advantage of a tax credit for energy efficient appliances, you should add HVAC system upgrades to your home improvement checklist.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, home HVAC systems account for nearly 48% of a home’s total energy consumption. There are several parts of the system you can improve, independently or together.

You may want to consider a programmable thermostat set to adjust your home’s temperature for the winter heating season and the summer cooling season, and to adjust based on time of day. Why pay to heat or cool an empty house? Programmable thermostats are easy to install and use, and will pay for themselves with the money you save on your heating and cooling bills.

One of the most cost-effective upgrades to an HVAC system is air sealing. If your home is drafty it’s a good candidate for air sealing. A trained and certified contractor can find the cracks and gaps where air is leaking in or out, and seal them with caulk and weatherstripping. This will make you and your family more comfortable, and reduce your heating and cooling energy costs.

heat_pump_prices_by_galinast_on_istockphoto

Are HVAC system upgrades the right choice for you? Get your home’s full heating energy assessment today: it’s fast and accurate and will give you actionable information to take the next step.

Want more ideas on how to save money on your home energy costs? Just sign up for our Home Energy Performance Newsletter. It’s full of the information and ideas you need to make your home less expensive to operate and more comfortable – and healthier – to live in.

HEAT: a revolutionary new home energy assessment tool

Understanding home heating energy performance just got a whole lot easier. The new Heating Energy Assessment Tool (HEAT) from AREVS is a RESNET Approved, easy to use web-based application that tells home energy professionals, homeowners, and renters whether or not a home is in need of energy retrofits or upgrades. Using patented algorithms that are normalized for house size and geographical location, and information from its utility bill, HEAT provides a heating energy audit for a home in under 5 minutes. A simple A+ through F grade range gives instant understanding of home heating performance. .

Try it today for free.

Advantages for Professionals:
• A “first line” assessment tool to determine if a home needs further envelope assessment.
• Can be used for performance-based quality assurance verification for homes that have undergone weatherization upgrades.
• Eliminates need for on-site inspections.
• Offers opportunity for en masse initial ratings.
• Pre-qualified leads sent directly to your sales team.
• Use HEAT as a complement to asset-based rating programs.

Advantages for Homeowners:
• Economical and easy to use.
• Information from a single energy bill results in a custom HEAT Assessment in less than 5 minutes.
• Determine energy consumption and costs for heating, air conditioning and hot water.
• Provides an accurate assessment of whether a home is in need of energy retrofits or upgrades.
• Provides an accurate assessment of whether a home is in need of a further envelope assessment from a certified RESNET professional.
• Verify energy savings achieved through weatherization and energy upgrades.
• Know a home’s PITI+E payment: Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance, and Energy – the true cost of home ownership.

RESNET is offering both home energy professionals and homeowners a one-time free Heating Energy Assessment to demonstrate how HEAT works. Afterwards, you can purchase a detailed HEAT Rating Report from AREVS with your home’s exact A+ through F alpha grade, unique Energy Rating Number, and heating and cooling fuel consumption and cost data.

Air sealing

Have you ever noticed a draft in your house, especially around the windows and doors, or the baseboards? These drafts are caused by air moving from one part of your home to another. That means your heated or cooled air is leaking out, costing you money on your energy bills every month. . How can you stop air leakage?

Air sealing is one of the most effective home improvement projects for increasing your home’s energy efficiency, and making your family healthier and more comfortable.

air-sealing-windows

Reducing air leakage between the inside and outside of your home will keep warm air inside in the winter, and cool air in during the summer. Effective air sealing may also keep moisture, insects, and pests from invading your home. When you seal these spaces you keep air from leaking outside your home, and your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your rooms at a comfortable temperature.

Is improved air sealing the right choice for you? Get your home’s full energy assessment today: it’s fast and accurate and will give you actionable information to take the next step. Click here to use your assessment data and save even more time.

Want more ideas on how to save money on your home energy costs? Just sign up for our Home Energy Performance Newsletter. It’s full of the information and ideas you need to make your home less expensive to operate and more comfortable – and healthier – to live in.

Home energy audit

Is your home too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter? Did your heating or air conditioning bills take you by surprise last year? You might need a certified professional to conduct a home energy audit.

A whole house energy audit will help you understand your home’s energy consumption and performance, air leakage, and a room-by-room assessment of how you can save money on your heating and cooling energy bills. You may even be eligible for a free or discounted home energy audit based on where you live or your utility company.

What’s involved?

According to RESNET, the Residential Energy Services Network:

A general energy audit is also known as an energy assessment, standard energy audit or detailed energy audit. It expands on the home energy survey by collecting more detailed information regarding the home’s energy usage, as well as a more thorough financial analysis of its energy costs.

The general energy audit also includes diagnostic testing using specialized equipment such as a blower door test, duct leakage tester, combustion analyzer and infrared camera. These tests are done to determine:

The location and number of air leaks in the building envelope.
How much leakage is occurring from HVAC distribution ducts.
How effective is the insulation inside walls and ceilings.
Any existing or potential combustion safety issues.

home infrared image

Is a home energy audit the right choice for you? Get your home’s full energy assessment today: it’s fast and accurate and will give you actionable information to take the next step.

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Insulation

Improving your home’s insulation by insulating raw spaces, or upgrading to newer and more energy efficient products, can not only save you money on your heating and cooling bills, it can make your home healthier for your family. You’ll feel more comfortable year ’round with improved insulation.

fiberglass insulation

The Department of Energy recommends home insulation as one of the most important steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient:

A qualified home energy auditor will include an insulation check as a routine part of a whole-house energy assessment. An energy assessment, also known as a home energy audit, will also help identify areas of your home that are in need of air sealing. (Before you insulate, you should make sure that your home is properly air sealed.)

Insulation is graded according to an R-value. The R-value indicates the insulation’s ability to resist heat. The higher the R-value, the greater the heat resistance. Choosing insulation with a higher R-value will save you money on your heating and cooling costs. It will also make your home more comfortable and healthier, because better insulation also acts as an air filter in your walls.

Some types of insulation, like spray foam, also act as a barrier against moisture, insects, and pests. Based on your home’s location and construction, a home performance professional will make recommendations to meet your needs and budget.

Improving your home’s insulation doesn’t have to be an expensive project. Focusing on the most important areas of your home, like the attic, will yield a result on your next utility bill. Insulating your home is commonly a one time project. Fiberglass and spray foam insulations can last longer than your mortgage, so your work will pay for itself quickly, and give you a high return on your investment over the life of your home.

The Department of Energy’s “Years to Payback” equation can help you determine your exact return on investment. A good rule of thumb is that insulation projects will pay for themselves in 3-5 years. A professional home performance contractor can complete the job in a day or two. You’ll start saving money immediately.

Your cost will vary depending on the type of insulation you choose and the size of the space you are insulating. The good news is that you may be eligible for tax rebates from your state government, or incentive programs from your utility company, for home energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits. Your home performance contractor can help determine your eligibility and provide you with required documentation.

spray foam insulation technician

Is improved insulation the right choice for you? Get your home’s full energy assessment today: it’s fast and accurate and will give you actionable information to take the next step. Click here to use your assessment data and save even more time.

Want more ideas on how to save money on your home energy costs? Just sign up for our Home Energy Efficiency Newsletter. It’s full of the information and ideas you need to make your home less expensive to operate and more comfortable – and healthier – to live in.

3 home heating tips to get ready for heating season

Heating season is coming up fast in many parts of the United States. Is your home ready?

The US Energy Information Administration just their Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook, and home heating costs are expected to rise for homeowners using natural gas, propane, and electricity. Many experts predict a winter as cold or colder than last year. Here are 3 tips to get your home ready for heating season. You can take them one at a time, or make a weekend project out of them. We’ve also included Next Steps to help you save even more money during this heating season.

3 home heating tips to get ready for heating season

Here are 3 quick and easy tips to help make your home less expensive this heating season. We’ve also included 3 Next Steps for when you’re ready for a Do It Yourself project:

  • Turn your thermostat down. Why pay to heat your home if you’re not in it? When you leave the house in the morning, turn your thermostat down 10 degrees and you could save up to 10 percent on your heating bill this winter.
  • Next step: Consider a programmable thermostat. A basic model like the [low end product from amzn] can adjust your home’s temperature automatically, so you can set it and forget it! An advanced model, like the Nest programmable thermostat programs itself and can be controlled from your smartphone.
  • Seal drafty window frames. Air leaks through window frames let cold air in, making your home drafty and uncomfortable. They also make your heating system work harder, leading to higher operating costs and increased stress on system components. The quick and easy solution? Tape the inside of the window frame with clear, heavy acrylic tape to stop the worst leaks.
  • Next step: Cover leaky windows with a window insulation kit. Window insulation kits include puncture resistant film and heavy duty tape. Cover your windows, tape the plastic in place, and use a hair dryer to shrink and seal the plastic to fit your frames.
  • Seal gaps around pipes, chimneys, cupboards, and closets. Air also leaks through these tiny gaps. It’s especially important to keep your home airtight between the insulated and uninsulated spaces, where cold air comes in and warm air – and your hard-earned dollars – escape. Use caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks.
  • Next step: contact a local air sealing contractor [link to resnet] or HVAC contractor [link to acca] to evaluate your home and make recommendations for sealing gaps in your home’s envelope and cleaning your ducts and air filters.

Want to know more about HVAC system maintenance for heating season? Check out these specific tips and next steps for HVAC system maintenance.

Getting your home ready for heating season doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. A few simple changes in your daily routine, or an afternoon of do it yourself projects is all you need to make your home more comfortable and less expansive this winter.

Do you want more ideas about how to get started with home energy savings? Get your personalized home energy performance rating: it’s fast, easy, and all you need to get started with home energy performance.