April 22 is Earth Day, when we honor and celebrate the beautiful planet we live on, and show support for environmental protection through various events around the world.
At UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we believe that every day is an opportunity to practice environmental awareness and responsibility – so we put together some tips on “going green” that will not only help save the environment, but also help save you money:
- Heating with Natural Gas or High-Efficiency Heat Pumps
If you’re heating your home with fuel oil, consider making the switch to natural gas or even a high-efficiency electric heat pump option. At best, an oil furnace could achieve up to 86% efficiency, but as the unit is in operation it loses efficiency. Over years of operation, soot accumulates on the interior of the heat exchanger causing the unit to lose efficiencies. If your oil furnace is older, it probably had a lower efficiency rating to begin with, and has continued to get worse over years of operation, especially if not professionally cleaned every year.
If and when natural gas is an available option for heating your home, we recommend this option as it’s clean, inexpensive, convenient, and very efficient. Newer gas furnaces, for example, have energy efficiency ratings up to 97%. They’re so energy efficient that they often qualify for rebates from your local utility.
When natural gas is not an option, we recommend looking into a high-efficiency heat pump as an option for both heating and central air conditioning your home. According to energy.gov, by upgrading from older electric resistance heating to a newer air-source heat pump you could reduce your electric usage by up to 50% – saving money while going green.
- High-Efficiency Central Air Conditioning Systems
To promote energy conservation, we always recommend purchasing and using energy-efficient appliances, including your heating and air conditioning systems.
Replace traditional appliances, such as the refrigerator, microwave, washing machine and dryer, dishwasher, etc., with ENERGY STAR qualified appliances – they are much more energy efficient.
Air conditioning systems with a high Efficiency Rating (SEER) are far more beneficial than older traditional systems. They’re more energy efficient, without all of the on-off cycling that tends to produce a lot of noise, they enhance dehumidification and air circulation without degrading the comfort of users.
In essence, high efficiency air conditioners will reduce your home cooling costs while increasing your home’s comfort level – so eventually you get a great return on your initial investment.
Also, high efficiency AC units are designed to provide minimal variation in indoor temperature, and there is a lower risk of breakdowns, mainly because they’re not prone to the wear and tear associated with on-off cycling. Another added benefit – the latest models of ductless mini-split AC systems are able to cool indoor spaces efficiently without a duct network, further reducing energy losses through ductwork.
Make sure you regularly change your systems air filters; they’re also crucial to the proper functioning of AC systems.
- Variable Speed AC Systems
Due to recent technological advances in the HVAC industry, new systems have been introduced that rely on a variable speed fan/blower to circulate air, which means the AC’s motor adjusts to run at different speeds. Plus, certain cooling systems even support temperature adjustments by half a degree.
Even more beneficial is the fact that variable speed systems use only about 1/5 of the energy consumed by single-stage AC systems, and lower the risk of indoor air pollution – because they cause air to move through filter elements more frequently than single or two-stage air conditioners. Again, the energy savings over time and the enhanced comfort more than outweigh the initial investment.
- Ceiling Fans
They can create a powerful breeze, as well as circulate the air from your AC more efficiently, just make sure you get Energy Star fans – they use 50% less energy than comparable models.
During the summer, use your ceiling fan to help cool your home. To do this, your fan should be running counter-clockwise, in the “forward” position. During the cooler months, you can also use your ceiling fan to help direct warm air throughout the room by switching the direction to revers, or clockwise. By doing so, the fan will gently direct the warm air up through the room to the ceiling, where it will then circulate the arm air down along the walls to help warm the room.
- Upgraded Water Heater
Besides home heating and air conditioning, a water heater can cause the largest energy drain in your home. If you’re interested in going green, the best thing to do is to replace your old unit with a new, energy-efficient one.
A high-efficiency gas-fired water heater can have an EF rating of .62 or higher, while a high-efficiency electric heater can attain .96 and better. When it comes to cutting home energy costs, the higher the EF rating, the better.
Tankless Water Heaters heat water on demand, eliminating energy loss and reducing hot water energy costs by as much as 20 percent; plus, they tend to last five to 10 years longer than traditional models, saving you money with less frequent replacements. As there’s no big tank to keep hot, they only use energy as you use hot water. (Plus, you can take back a little extra room in the basement or utility room.)
Combined Hot Water and Heating Systems, or Indirect Systems, heat water for both space heating and water heating at the same time. If you already have a high-efficiency boiler or heat pump, this may be the most efficient water heating system available.
- Water-Saving Tips
Energy-efficient washing machines and dishwashers use about half less water than the older models – good for the environment (especially in draft-prone areas) and good for your wallet.
Low-flow showerheads reduce water usage by 50-70%.
Modern low-flow toilets use less than 1.28 gallons per flush, saving you about 60% of the water compared to old-school toilets.
- Other Ways to Go Green
If you use incandescent light bulbs (which create as much heat as they do light), shut them off to save energy and cool things down a notch. Even better, consider replacing old bulbs with Energy Star bulbs, which produce 75% less heat. Newer option for lighting include LED bulbs and compact florescent bulbs.
Purchase and install a programmable thermostat to regulate temperature in your home or office.
Put small appliances onto a power strip and switch it off when not in use.
Add insulation to your attic. Seal all windows and doors with caulk, and replace older windows with more energy efficient models.
At UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, our comfort advisors are here to guide you with upgrading or replacing your current system, and offer energy efficient options that fit your specific needs. We also offer Home Energy Assessment Program to help you discover how to reduce your energy bills.
Contact us today for more information on HVAC systems, HVAC installation and repair, and HVAC contractors in your area.