Keeping Heating Costs Low During the Winter

The pendulum swings from summer to winter, especially when it comes to climate control costs. Summertime is all about lowering cooling costs by keeping out heat from outside; winter is just the opposite. Just like shading your home from the hot sun can lower your cooling costs, there are ways to manage heating costs during the winter. Here are a few tips to lower your heating bill this winter.

Use Your Thermostat Wisely

Programmable thermostats can be one of the most valuable tools for managing energy costs. Turn down the heat during times when no one is home and when you are asleep. This can make a significant difference in your heating costs.

Use Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are not just for cooling; they also can push warm air down to help with heating costs. Make sure your ceilings fans are on “winter mode” to keep air flowing downward when the heat is on. You can notice an almost immediate difference in the temperature of the room when ceiling fans are used correctly.

Add Blankets and Layers

You do not need to run around your home in shorts and bare feet. You can dress in more layers and add blankets to beds and couches for warmth instead of turning up the heat.

Let the Sun In

If you have shades to keep sun out in the summer, open them up and let that sunshine warm your home in the winter. Rooms with afternoon sun can be easier to heat if the sun is allowed in.

Just following these few tips can make a difference in your heating costs. Make sure your furnace is maintained and working efficiently – schedule a tune-up and keep air filters clean to help lower heating costs this winter.

Posted on behalf of:
Western Aire Heating & Cooling
Marietta, GA 30066
(770) 505-7426

Is it Time for an HVAC Energy Efficiency Analysis?

One of the ways you can increase your spendable income each month is cutting down on energy use. Shutting off lights, regulating temperatures and cutting down on hot water use are a few ways to reduce your energy bills. But a bigger way to save money is to invest in energy efficient appliances, including your HVAC system. An energy efficiency analysis can give you an estimate on how efficient your current system is and ideas on how to reduce your heating and cooling costs.

If you have a newer HVAC system and your energy bills seem reasonable, you may not need an analysis of your heating/cooling system. However, if any of these apply to you, it may benefit you to explore getting an analysis performed to see if you can improve your HVAC efficiency:

  • Your furnace/HVAC system is at least ten years old
  • Your energy bills have continually increased
  • There is difficulty maintaining even temperatures throughout your home
  • Poor air quality

What Should be Included in an Energy Efficiency Analysis

Many HVAC companies may offer an energy efficiency analysis, but you want to ensure you get a complete system analysis. Some of the inspection/analysis points that should be included:

  • Air quality and distribution
  • Energy consumption
  • Temperature control
  • Comfort level
  • Operation and owning costs
  • AC/heating service

Even newer HVAC systems may have components that can be improved for better efficiency and air quality in the home. A comprehensive evaluation can help you identify if service is needed, repairs, or if a complete replacement could be a wise investment. Contact your local HVAC service that offers a complete HVAC energy efficiency analysis to see if you improve your home’s HVAC system and save money off your energy bills.

Posted on behalf of:
ClimateSmith, LLC
Buford, GA 30519
(770) 475-9528

What is Geothermal Heating?

Traditional heat pumps use the outside air to either warm the air inside a home in the winter or cool it in the summer. Geothermal heating is a form of heat pump that uses the temperature of the earth to do the same thing. While it may seem strange to pull heat from the ground in cold temperatures, it is actually a very effective and efficient method of heating a home.

 These pumps are similar to air heat pumps, but instead of using air to keep homes at an even temperature all year round, they use the earth. A series of pipes are placed in loops under the ground that transport a liquid, usually either water or antifreeze. To heat the home, the liquid absorbs the heat or energy from the earth and is brought back up to the home and is processed through a compressor and heat exchanger. This concentrates the earth’s energy into a higher temperature and it is dispersed throughout the home. 

For the warmer months, these heat pumps do just the opposite. They siphon heat from the home and circulate it underground, where the earth absorbs the heat. This is similar to how a refrigerator cools the air inside. Instead of blowing cold air in, it draws out the heat, leaving the interior cold. 

Geothermal heat pumps can be an efficient way to keep your home at an even temperature all year round. Although electricity is used for the pump itself, there is no fuel cost like a furnace. The initial set up is the most expensive aspect, since pipes must be put down below the earth’s surface. However, once they are installed, these can be a a very economical heating solution.

Is It Time to Replace Your Furnace?

The typical property owner doesn’t consider replacing their furnace until after it quits working and they are confronted with the costs related to significant furnace repairs versus installing a brand new furnace. Unfortunately, that scenario leaves the property owner with little time to research their options before making a decision as to what furnace to purchase and which contractor to use for the installation. A preferred scenario is to evaluate your heating system before you reach that point, so you have time to research and compare your options. This also gives you time to prepare for the purchase financially.

Avoiding costly repairs isn’t the only reason to consider replacing your furnace. Upgrading your heating system to a newer, more energy efficient system can provide you with savings on your heating costs as well.

There are several considerations to keep in mind as you contemplate replacement of your existing heating system. First, do you simply want to upgrade to a newer more efficient system of the same type or do you want to change your type of heating system altogether? Just because your home currently uses electrical baseboard heat doesn’t mean that is your only option. Conversely, if you now have a forced air gas furnace, it doesn’t mean that is your only option for replacement. Take the time to consider all of your options, the costs involved in replacement and also the potential energy savings with each of those options.

Being proactive and making a decision about furnace replacement before you ‘have to’ can be one of the wisest decisions a property owner can make. It relieves you of that last minute pressure and allows you the time to make an informed decision and to schedule that replacement at a time that is convenient for you, as well.

Heat Pumps In Colder Climates

As the weather begins to cool off, many homeowners are taking the opportunity to reduce their energy bills this winter by replacing their existing residential heating systems with a new energy efficient heat pump.  The efficiency of a heat pump stems from the fact that instead of creating heat from electricity or by burning fuel, a heat pump moves heat from outside your home to inside your home.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but a heat pump can extract heat from outdoor air temperatures that are below freezing and use that heat to warm your home.  The biggest concern about heat pumps is that the colder the outdoor air temperature, the harder the heat pump has to work to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home.  As temperatures drop below freezing, a heat pump can struggle to keep up with the demand for warm air.

Heat pumps can be equipped with supplemental electric heating to provide a heating boos in very cold weather, but these electric heating strips use a lot of electricity.  The heat pump loses its cost saving advantage if the supplemental electric heating strips are called into action too often.  For this reason, heat pumps used for the sole heating source make the most sense in climates where the temperature only occasionally drops below freezing, but heat pumps can still serve an important role in colder climates.

Many homeowners in colder climates combine a heat pump with a traditional furnace.  The heat pump is used for home heating in milder weather and operates as a central air conditioner in the summer months.  When temperatures drop below freezing, the home heating role is handed off to the traditional furnace.  These systems maximize the efficiency of a heat pump without sacrificing cold weather comfort.

How Does A Heat Pump Work?

If it’s time to replace your furnace and central air conditioning system or if you are building a new home, consider installing an energy efficient heat pump.  Whether you choose an air source or ground source heat pump, you will enjoy years of energy efficient heating and cooling without sacrificing comfort.

A heat pump works just like a central air conditioning system in the summer.  It uses refrigerant to absorb indoor heat and move it outside your home.  A refrigerator works using the same principles.  Refrigerant is used to absorb heat inside the refrigerator and release the heat outside the refrigerator box leaving the inside of the refrigerator nice and cold.

Refrigerators and air conditioners are types of heat pumps that work in a single direction.  A heat pump used for home heating and cooling works in two directions.  The energy efficiency advantage of a heat pump comes into play in the winter months when the heat pump is used for heating.  The refrigerant flow is reversed and the refrigerant absorbs heat from outdoors and releases it inside the home.

A heat pump can extract heat from the outside air even in below freezing temperatures.  However, an air source heat pump’s efficiency declines as the outdoor temperatures decrease.  This is less of a problem for a ground source heat pump since the temperatures below ground remain relatively stable year round.

When operating in heating mode, a heat pump is far more efficient than an electric resistance type heater because it moves heat instead of creating heat.  It takes much more electricity to create heat than it does to move it using a heat pump.

Heat pumps are usually less expensive to operate than natural gas, propane, or oil fired home heating systems.  The cost savings with a heat pump depends on the cost of the fuel but the savings is usually significant.


Ground Source Heat Pump Basic Information

A ground source heat pump is one of the most energy efficient ways to heat and cool a home.  Heat pumps work by moving warm air from one location to another.  In the summer, they move heat from inside your home to the outside.  In the winter, the process is reversed. The most common type of heat pump used in residential applications is an air source heat pump that is similar to a central air conditioning unit.

Air source heat pumps are an excellent choice for energy efficient heating and cooling in moderate climates, but their efficiency is affected by changes in outdoor air temperatures.  They lose heating efficiency when temperatures drop below freezing and cannot cool as well in high temperatures.

A ground source heat pump is even more efficient than an air source heat pump and since underground temperatures remain relatively stable year round, a ground source heat pump is not affected by large changes in the outdoor air temperature.

In a closed loop system, a ground source heat pump uses a coolant pumped through a series of pipes buried underground to extract heat from the ground in the winter and to dump heat in the summer.  An open loop system uses ground water, lake water, or well water for heating and cooling.  Open loop systems can be problematic because they need a way to dispose of used water.  They can also be affected by changes in the local water table.

Ground source heat pumps can be twice as efficient as air source heat pumps, but the initial installation cost is usually much higher.  Ground source heat pumps are very quiet and need less maintenance than air source heat pumps.  They also last longer, particularly the underground pipe system which can last for decades.