Keeping Energy Costs down without Freezing or Sweating

Home Improvement Guru

Green economies are more than just tree hugging experiences. Being green means understanding that there are just so many fossil fuel sources left and leaving as small a carbon footprint as possible is good for the ecology. Residential homes are major consumers of energy and it often happens that the heating systems are extremely inefficient. HVAC, the heating and air-conditioning component of the structure, can run on less energy if properly managed. Using a few green strategies can help the HVAC system in the house operate economically without causing any discomfort.

The activity can be as simple as changing the air filter on a routine basis. This task allows air to flow freely and prevents dust buildup in the HVAC system. The heating and cooling ducts of the system found throughout the house, particularly in unused spaces such as attics, can easily be wrapped in insulation and sealed to help reduce energy waste. Instead of relying on the home’s furnace, under floor heating pads can be installed so that only those areas of the room that are actively used will be heated. Programmable thermostats can also be added so that any heat energy coming from the HVAC system is only what is needed.

More dramatic means of controlling energy costs may be the purchase of a new HVAC
system. This can be a fairly expensive job, but there are ways to keep the cost manageable. A collaborative effort between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy, known as Energy Star, can help a consumer replace a faulty HVAC system with a better one. A home energy audit should be conducted first; to be sure that what is needed is a new HVAC system and not just a few minor adjustments, such as cleaning the existing one. Federal tax credits are available for equipment such as geothermal heat pumps or a solar energy system for the house. There are also state and local energy initiatives that will provide sizable rebates for the purchase of energy efficient HVAC equipment, and a number of other sources for possible financial assistance can be found on the website of Energy Star. The program also reviews various HVAC products with energy efficiency in mind. Any heat pump or air-conditioning unit that has the Energy Star label is one that has passed inspection, and has the capability of reducing the amount of energy used in a home.

It needs to be kept in mind that any costs related to installing new equipment or cleaning existing ones are more than compensated for in the long run. Residents notice that utility bills go down when an energy-efficient refrigerator is installed, or old windows are replaced with newer models.  These cost savings are not just one time affairs. Indeed, they can last for a number of years and new thermostats or heat pumps are selling features of the property if and when the house is put up for sale.

Controlling costs is not just a matter of finances. Fossil fuel emits levels of carbon that pollute
the atmosphere and can harm the environment. Green energy products and strategies are also
part of an effort to reduce the environmental cost of having to use energy. That environment, by the way, is not just the great outdoors. Replacing filters and cleaning out the air systems of the household HVAC means that there is less dust and pollen being spread throughout the house.  Anyone with allergies or asthma notices significant improvement once the cleaning work has been completed. Reducing the size of a carbon footprint definitely helps household finances and at the same time creates a cleaner, greener, environment. The value of using green strategies is therefore high both in financial terms and ecological ones as well.

Jared Diamond is a contributor with Home Star Search, an online rent to own homes resource. Jared writes on topics ranging from personal finance to energy efficiency.