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Energy Efficiency

Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling a house is the largest bill a homeowner can tackle. Typically, 43% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. What’s more, heating and cooling systems in the United States together emit 150 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. They also generate about 12% of the nation’s sulfur dioxide and 4% of the nitrogen oxides, the main components in acid rain.

No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach.

Heating and Cooling Tips

  • Set your thermostat to as low as comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
  • Clean furnace filters once a month, and if needed, replace with a new filter.
  • Clean baseboard heaters and radiators often, and make sure they are free from obstruction.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; consult a professional if you don’t know how to do this.
  • Turn off exhaust fans for kitchens and bathrooms after 20 minutes. Clean fans often and replace with high-efficiency, low noise models.
  • During the winter and cooler months, keep shades open to use natural sunlight to help heat your home. Close them at night to make a ‘barrier’ to keep the cold out.
  • During the summer months, keep shades closed to prevent heating of rooms.

Long-Term Savings Tips

Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. For furnaces, look for high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum is 78% AFUE, but there are ENERGY STAR models on the market that exceed 90% AFUE.

For air conditioners, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners. ENERGY STAR models are 14 SEER or more.