Three Tips to Lower the Cost of Indoor Comfort

Tips to Lower Energy Bills

Monthly utility bills remind us that our indoor comfort comes with a price. What if you could spend less and maintain or improve the level of indoor comfort in your home?

If your heat pump, gas furnace or air conditioner is more than ten years old, your equipment may have a lower energy-efficiency rating of one that was built this year! As a result, your current equipment could be costing you more than you think!

Let’s break it down…

1. The Utility Bill

 

On average, the cost of electricity continues to increase. In 2009, the average price of electricity for a home was approximately 11.51¢ per Kilowatt hour.1 As of 2017, that cost rose to 12.89¢ per Kilowatt hour!2 ENERGY STAR® says, “Understanding what goes into those monthly charges could put you in a better position to reduce them.”3 

The Consumer Technology Association says that the typical homeowner owns an average of 24 home electronic products.4 If you have teenagers, there is a good chance that that number is much higher! As our collection of mobile devices and electronics increases, more energy dollars are funneled to supporting these products. 

How can you compensate for these added home electronics on your utility bill, especially when the cost of electricity continues to rise?  The answer may be to take more control over the costs of the critical systems in your home - such as your central heating and cooling system! According to ENERGY STAR, up to 43% of a year’s total energy costs may come from maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your home.5  

To determine the amount you spend on energy in your home at any given point in the day or night, you may want to examine some of the new interactive home automation platforms that intelligently monitor your home’s energy usage in real time. Some smart home energy meters offer a complete home energy breakdown profile detailing where and when energy is used, and how much it costs you in real-time. And let’s face it, using less energy at home may mean saving more money on your utility bills.

2. Check HVAC Energy Efficiency Ratings

 

Understanding the energy-efficiency rating of your current gas furnace, air conditioner or heat pump is key to controlling energy usage. The higher the energy-efficiency rating of your heating and cooling system, the more you may be able to save on your monthly energy bill compared to lower efficiency systems. 

The good news is that the energy efficiency ratings of new HVAC equipment continue to increase. So, if your system is less efficient than the current minimum standard, you may be paying too much for indoor comfort!

So what are the current standards?

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): The number that represents the annual energy consumption and efficiency of the unit’s cooling ability in typical day-to-day use.  The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit operates. Currently, the minimum SEER rating for central air conditioners and heat pumps is 14 SEER in the South and Southwest regions of the U.S. and 13 SEER in the North.

AFUE (The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency): The number that indicates how well fuel is consumed to produce heat by a gas furnace. The higher the AFUE rate, the higher the efficiency level of your gas furnace.

HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor): The number that represents the total heat output of a heat pump, including the supplementary electric heat, as compared to the total electricity used during the same period. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heating performance of the heat pump. New units in the United States must have HSPF ratings from 7.0 to 9.4.

High-efficiency systems are designed and engineered to operate more efficiently than their standard-efficiency counterparts. Some residential air conditioner and heat pumps models are now designed to reach 18 SEER, 9.5 HSPF performance, and natural gas furnaces are available with efficiency ratings up to 98%+ AFUE.

The initial expense of a high-efficiency unit may be more cost more than a lower rated model. However, the lower monthly utility bill that may result from a new high-efficiency system often makes up for the initial price difference.6  This is especially true if you intend to use your new high-efficiency heating and cooling system for years to come.

Not only may the additional energy-efficiency features help keep your monthly budget in check, but having a high-efficiency gas furnace, heat pump or air conditioner professionally installed may greatly improve your overall comfort level in your home. To learn about new technologies and available features that may help improve the energy efficiency of your home, talk to your licensed professional HVAC dealer.

3. Shut the Front Door!

 

Installing high-efficient heating and cooling equipment is only one way to save on monthly utility bills. If other key home energy-efficient solutions are overlooked, your bill may still be higher than you would like. And, that could make you and your indoor air uncomfortable.

Every gap, doorway, window seam, air duct or hole in the wall has the potential to leak your home’s heated or cooled air. The Department of Energy says that the average home air leaks can equal that of a two-foot hole!7 That’s like leaving a window open for 24-hours a day. Be sure to check out the weather stripping and caulking of those small areas where your comfortable indoor air can potentially escape.

There are numerous influencers can contribute to your cost of indoor comfort including,

  • Local climate
  • Thermostat or control system settings
  • Ductwork
  • HVAC installation
  • Heating and cooling system maintenance schedule
  • Construction methods and insulation values
  • Gaps in windows and doors

To learn how your gas furnace, heat pump or air conditioner or HVAC system set up may be affecting your monthly utility bill, or want to learn ways to improve efficiency, talk to your licensed professional HVAC dealer today.

Lower Utility bills with Amana

1, 2 US Energy Information Administration, (2018, August). Electric Power Monthly. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from US Energy Information Administration: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_3
3,5 Energy Star. "Ask the Expert, Breaking Down the Typical Utility Bill." 16 February 2016. https://www.energystar.gov/products/ask-the-expert/breaking-down-the-typical-utility-bill. 13 December 2017.
4 Consumer Technology Association. "Press Release." 11 May 2015. Consumer Technology Association. https://www.cta.tech/News/Press-Releases/2015/May/Owning-Innovation-CEA-Study-Shows-Major-Shifts-in.aspx. 13 December 2017.
6 Furnace and Boilers. n.d. http://energy.gov/energysaver/furnaces-and-boilers.
7  Energy Saver 101: Home Energy Audits. n.d. https://www.energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-energy-audits.