How Can Old HVAC and Faulty Electronics Waste Energy and Money?
by Cassidy Lane
A typical home in America wastes 30% more energy than an efficient home, with research by Energy Savvy noting that “On average, that means that 51 MMBtu’s are being wasted by a typical home every year.” One reason for so much waste is the fear of spending on maintenance and, if necessary, on new equipment. Failing to make required upgrades is detrimental in the long term, as is scrimping on professional installation. The National Institute of Standards and Technology states that improper installation alone can increase household energy use for space heating and cooling by around 30%.
What are the Biggest HVAC Errors that Lead to Wastage?
Some of the biggest problems leading to energy inefficiency include old components of equipment such as air conditioners and heat pumps, leaky air ducts, and incorrect indoor airflow. Lack of maintenance can also result in higher heating/cooling bills and further stress to your heating or cooling unit. For instance, a flaw as small as leaking refrigerant will result in your air conditioning not cooling your space as efficiently. When this happens, people often try to compensate by lowering the thermostat, thus forcing their unit to work harder and eventually break. When refrigerant levels are insufficient, coils will not absorb heat equally, which causes condensation on the coils to freeze. This ice could cause an air conditioning unit to break down and result in expensive repairs. This is just one example of how failing to address problems quickly can result in far greater expenditure.
Avoiding Air Duct Leaks
Air ducts leaks are among the most common energy wasters in homes. Ducts that leak air into spaces you don’t need to heat can add hundreds of dollars a year to your energy bill. In addition to ensuring your HVAC equipment is in good working order, it is also important to check that your ducts are well sealed and insulated. A skilled maintenance team can also check that no ducts are blocked or broken/in need of replacement. You will also need to ensure that no furniture pieces or items are blocking airflow, and to keep registers clean so that dust doesn’t build up.
Upgrading Appliances at Home
To save further on home energy and costs, upgrade appliances such as toilets, dishwashers, and fridges. Newer systems are more energy efficient and waste less water, so that your household consumption is reduced. A dishwasher with an energy saving program, for instance, will wash your items at a lower temperature and use less water, saving you up to three liters per wash. Modern fridges, meanwhile, use an average of 50% less energy than models sold in the 1990s.
Behavior Matters Too
In addition to ensuring your HVAC system and appliances are energy saving, you should also aim to use your resources wisely. Many small changes can make a big difference. For instance, you might replace your incandescent light bulbs with halogen, compact fluorescent, or LED lighting, which use between 25% and 80% less energy. So can making an effort not to go overboard with the air conditioning in the summer, or the heating in the winter. Use a home energy monitor to work out which behaviors are costing you and the environment the most.
To save energy and money, make smart choices at home. Keep your HVAC in good working order, replace old electronics with eco-friendly versions, and use smart thermostats to ensure you are only using the energy you need. Also consider changing features such as windows – inefficient windows can tack on up to 25% to your heating bill – and changing them if needs be is an excellent long-term investment.