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75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Bills (without upgrading HVAC system)

Part 4 of 4

photo of new home

Image Source: ShutterStock

This is Part 4 Of 4 Of Our Article Offering 75+ Ways to Lower Cooling & Heating Costs Without Upgrading Your HVAC System.  

This section is about Energy Use Behaviors. Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Plano TX, Murphy TX, and Wylie TX.  We service all homes in southern Collin County TX and Denton County TX with no additional travel-charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.

Our Energy-Use Behaviors Represent 59%

Of Our Home’s Energy Use

The Biggest Opportunity For Energy Savings Comes From Modifying Our Energy Use Behaviors

  • 41% Of energy use is attributed to the structural components of the home.

Click Here To Learn About The Number 1 Way To Help Your Home Use Less Energy: Lower Energy Costs With Attic Insulation

  • 59% Of energy use is attributed to our Energy Use Behaviors.    

By becoming “Energy-Use Aware” – you can significantly reduce cooling costs and heating costs with Energy Use Behaviors.  Being aware of the areas where the largest amounts of energy are used, it becomes easier to lower total energy usage with energy use behaviors. .

It has been found that home energy use can be double to triple in identical homes occupied by people with similar demographics.     A study was done to evaluate energy consumption of 10 identical Habitat for Humanity, all-electric homes.   The highest home’s energy consumption was 2.6 times that of the lowest.   These findings reveal how differences in human energy use behaviors significantly affect energy consumption.

Note: Carbon Footprint:  The carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds created by a particular person’s usage of fossil fuels and energy use behaviors.

Source: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b353/062043c1b22101e84878b6d749bf3d0fb398.pdf

What You Will Read In This Article Does Not Include Lifestyle Sacrifices Such As:

  • Setting Cooling & Heating to uncomfortable temperatures.
  • Setting the Water Heater so low that it runs out of hot water.
  • Sitting in a dark house.

Where Energy Use Behaviors Have The Largest Impact On Energy Bills

2015 Household Energy Consumption By Type:

  • 15%  Heating
  • 17%  Air Conditioning
  • 14%  Water Heating
  • 10%  Lighting
  •   7% Refrigerator
  •   7% TV’s & Related Equipment
  •   5% Dryer
  •  12% Cooking, fans, washer, dishwasher, dehumidifier, humidifier, pool pump, hot tub
  • 13% All other uses

Source: https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/

 

Cooling & Heating Represent 32% Of Total Energy Use

How To Significantly Lower Cooling (& Heating) Costs With These Energy Use Behaviors

Energy Use Behaviors: Check & Replace Dirty Furnace Filter Each Month 

   *If The Filter Looks Dirty — It Is, And It Needs To Be Replaced.

NOTE:

  • A dirty filter slows air flow through the furnace.  The furnace is designed and installed for the airflow rate it has with a clean filter.
  • A dirty filter can cause your Furnace to overheat.  If it does, the furnace will shut down to protect itself.  It will restart once it has cooled down.
  • A dirty furnace filter can cause your A/C to freeze up.  If the outside unit operates in this condition long enough, it will ruin the a/c outdoor unit.
  • A severely neglected Central A/C System + clogged filter adds up to +65% to cooling bills (details below).
  • Reduce cooling costs by up to 15% by ensuring your furnace filter is clean.

dirty and clean furnace air filter

NOTE:  If a filter becomes clogged badly enough, it will buckle and the air will bypass it.  This allows dust & dirt to accumulate on the a/c cooling coil (inside the furnace or ductwork and can’t be seen without removing a panel).   Because the cooling coil is wet during summer (it’s what removes humidity) dust will accumulate on it easily and quickly.

A clogged cooling-coil will; reduce airflow, increase both cooling & heating costs, and wears the furnace blower out faster because it cannot move air as easily as it was designed and built to.

Click Here To See A: Badly Clogged Air Filter: Badly Clogged Air Filter

Click Here To Se A:Air Filter So Clogged That It Buckled

Click Here To See A: Clogged A/C Cooling Coil

Click Here To See An:  Indoor Cooling Coil That Is Completely Frozen Due To Lack Of Air Flow Through It

 

Energy Use Behaviors: Clean & Maintain A Dirty Indoor Cooling Coil

For This HVAC Sytem, The A/C Cooling (Evaporator) Coil Is On The Right Side Of The Furnace’s Opening.  

Image Source: ShutterStock

The indoor a/c cooling coil is located inside the furnace or ductwork and can’t be seen without removing a panel.  Air passes through this coil year round.  In summer, this coil is cold & wet, as it’s what removes heat & humidity from the air as it passes through the coil.  Because the coil is wet in the summer, it often traps dust that passes through the furnace filter.

The U.S. Department Of Energy says “A dirty cooling (evaporator) coil decreases airflow, resulting in reduced heat removal and a reduction in dehumidifying ability.  These can cause overall air quality to decline and a decrease the life expectancy of fan motors.”  In a worst case, a clogged cooling cooling coil will freeze up completely and stop all airflow.  If the a/c is allowed to run in this condition long enough, the outdoor unit will be damaged beyond repair.

Reduce cooling costs by up to 16% by cleaning a dirty indoor cooling (condenser) coil.  **

** Source: https://www.airah.org.au/Content_Files/TechnicalPublications/hvac-factsheet-cleaning-coils-09-13.pdf

 

NOTE: All furnace filters allow some dust to pass through.  If a furnace filter was 100% effective, it would dramatically decrease air flow through the furnace.  This would cause both the furnace and a/c to work much harder than they are designed to, and would dramatically increase cooling & heating costs plus shorten the life of the HVAC System.

NOTE: Because it’s cold & wet all summer, a dirty cooling coil is a perfect habitat for mold growth.

Click Here To See:  Before & After Cleaning Photos Of A Very Dirty A/C Indoor Cooling (Evaporator) Coil

 

Energy Use Behaviors: Clean & Maintain A Dirty Outside A/C Unit Coil

central air conditioner outside unit

Image Source: DreamsTime

  • Reduce Cooling Costs By Up To 35% By Keeping The Outdoor A/C Unit’s Coils Clean.

Example: A 5-ton air conditioning system (with typical efficiency) runs 1,500 hrs during a cooling season.  It costs $825 to operate this system with clean coils. When the condenser coil is  dirty, the six-month cost of operation escalates +37% to $1,125. **

NOTE: Savings from a clean outdoor a/c unit coil extends beyond energy savings.  It also makes the HVAC System last longer.    As dirt collects on the condenser coils, it restricts heat transfer from the coils.  This causes the outdoor unit to work harder, decreasing its cooling capacity of up to 30%.  Dirty outside unit coils cause the a/c to work harder and longer than it’s designed to.   This causes the HVAC system to wear out sooner.   If a dirty outside unit decreases cooling capacity by 30%, it stands to reason the system must run +30% longer.   This would cause it to wear out 30% sooner.

** Source: https://www.achrnews.com/articles/85141-clean-coils-make-dollars-and-sense

Let’s Do The Math

If An A/C System Has:

  • a clogged air filter
  • a very dirty indoor coiling coil
  • a very dirty outside unit coil
  • It increases cooling cost by up to (15% + 16% + 35%) = 65%!
  • It also stands to reason that a severely neglected A/C System is running 65% longer & wearing out 65% faster than a properly maintained system.

Energy Use Behavior:  Save a tremendous amount of money with a properly maintained HVAC system. 

It will also last longer, saving you more money due to less frequent replacements. 

 

Water Heating Represents Up To 14% Of Total Energy Use

residential gas water heater

Image Source: ShutterStock

How To Reduce Water Heating Costs

Residential Water Heating Is 14% Of Total Household Energy Costs.

Energy Use Behaviors:  For each +10ºF over 120ºF, water heating costs increase by 3% (gas water heater) or 5% (electric).  Water heaters are set to 120ºF  at the factory when new.

Source: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/15-ways-save-your-water-heating-bill

  • Add a water heater blanket to reduce water heating costs by 7%–16%.  Higher savings occurs if water heater is located in the garage or attic.
  • For electric units, be sure not to cover the thermostat.  For natural gas units, be sure not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment.

Source: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/services/do-it-yourself-energy-savings-projects/savings-project-insulate-your-water

Energy Use Behaviors:

  • Use cold water for laundry when possible.  Set rinse temperature to cold (most newer washers only allow cold rinse).
  • Fix dripping faucets.  A leak of 1 drip per second increases water heating costs by $1 per month per faucet.

Energy Use Behaviors:

  • Going on vacation?  Give your water heater a vacation too.
  • Turn a gas water heater to “pilot” and turn off an electric water heater at the circuit-breaker panel.

Source: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/15-ways-save-your-water-heating-bill

 

Lighting Represents 10% Of Total Energy Use

photo of led light bulb

Image Source: Pexels.com

Energy Use Behaviors: Change To LED Bulbs:

  • 100 watt incandescent light bulb generates 341 BTU of heat per hour.  90% of its electricity an an incandescent bulb uses generates heat.
  • 100 watt-output Compact Fluorescent Bulb (CFL) creates 102 BTU per hour.  35% of its electricity use generates heat.
  • 100 watt-output LED creates 3.4 BTU per hour.  10% of its electricity use generates heat.
  • Eight 100-watt incandescent light bubs generate as much heat as a typical electric heater set to low.
  • If you are still using incandescent or halogen bulbs, you can reduce lighting energy-usage by up to 90% with LED lighting.
  • This would reduce Lighting Energy Consumption from 10% to about 1% of your total lighting costs.
  • You will also lower cooling costs, since LED bulbs produce only 10% of the heat as incandescent light bulbs produce.

TIP:

  • LED bulbs described as “warm white” produce similar light as “soft white” incandescent bulbs.
  • LED “cool white” light is similar to “daylight” incandescent bulbs

 

Refrigerator Consumes 7% Of Total Household Energy Use

photo of refrigerator

The Removable Grill Is Located Just Below The Doors

Image Source: Pexels.com

The Two Top Ways Ways To Lower Refrigeration Costs:

  • Energy Use Behaviors: Up To -50%  Replace a refrigerator that is 15 years old or older.

  • Refrigerators 15 years or older use twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator.
  • Get A Free Refrigerator.  Over the life of the new refrigerator, it will pay for itself in energy savings.
  • The more electricity a refrigerator uses, the more heat it produces that must be removed by A/C.

Source: https://www.energystar.gov/products/appliances/nows_time_flip_your_fridge_and_save

  • Energy Use Behaviors: Up To -30%  Keep the coils under the refrigerator clean. 

  • Do this annually if you don’t have shedding pets.   With shedding pets, do this every six months.

Click Here To See: Clean Refrigerator Coil

Click Here To See:  A Very Dirty Refrigerator Coil

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/refrigerator-cleaning-tips_b_2067458

Most new refrigerators have a removable plastic grill under the refrigerator door(s).  Behind this is where the coils are located.  They are accessible from the front specifically to make it easier to keep them clean.

  • A vacuum cleaner crevice-tool can remove most dust.
  • If dust remains, purchase a brush designed for cleaning refrigerator coils.

Shown: Common Refrigerator Coil Cleaning Brush

Click On Image To: View The Brush, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

 

  • Energy Use Behavior: Refrigerators are a mighty expensive source of light.  Are you one of the folks who open the refrigerator take something out, use it and return it without ever closing the refrigerator door?  It takes only 10 seconds for most of the chilled air to exit your refrigerator while the door is open.
  • Energy Use Behavior:   Hot and cold don’t mix well.  When you are saving left-overs, let them sit on the counter until they are room-temperature.  Putting them in the refrigerator before they reach room-temperature causes the refrigerator to run needlessly.

 

TV’s & Related Equipment Represent 7% Of Total Household Energy Usephoto of television

Image Source: ShutterStock

There are ways to notably lower your TV & Related Equipment energy usage.

VAMPIRE ENERGY USE

  • Energy Use Behaviors: Set-Top (cable) boxes are the 2nd largest energy-waster in most homes.  They function much like mini-computers that communicate with remote content-sources and record shows. To do all this requires a lot of electricity — and produce a lot of heat.

According to the scientists at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “A regular set-top box uses the same amount of electricity as a newer refrigerator.”  Using that much electricity generates a lot of heat.  Lower both your electricity and cooling costs by shutting set-top cable boxes off when not in use.

Note:  If it feels warm when it’s off, it’s using electricity.

  • Today’s HD televisions produce a lot of heat.
  • ENERGY STAR’s list of LCD TVs includes models with screen sizes from 16-65 inches and using 18-198 watts.
  • Plasma TVs ranging from 42-65 inches use 90-214 watts.
  • Much of that energy use generates heat while the TV is running.
  • Energy Use Behaviors:  Not using it? Turn it off.  We tend to leave a lot of things running when they are not being used.  Great examples are computers & video games.

5% Of Total Household Energy Is Consumed While Drying Clothes

clothes washer and dryer

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay 

Your dryer pulls its air from inside the house and exhausts it outdoors.  You can notably reduce both cooling & heating costs by opening the window closest to the dryer.  Then way the dryer uses outdoor air instead of air you have paid to cool or heat.  The dryer create heats, uses energy, and exhausts large quantities of air from the house while pulling in outdoor air.

  • Energy Use Behaviors: Clean the dryer lint-trap each time you use the dryer.  A dirty lint screen reduces air flow and increases drying time.

  • Built up lint is a fire hazard.
  • Energy Use Behaviors: Don’t dry… dry clothes.  Set the dryer so it does not continue running once the clothes are dry.
  • Electric clothes dryers consume 4,000 to 6,000 watts.
  • Energy Use Behaviors: Open the window nearest the dryer so it can use outdoor air. 
  • All clothes dryers exhaust 100 — 225 Cubic Feet Per Minute.
  • A 2,000 square foot home with 8 foot ceilings contains 16,000 cubic feet of air.
  • It takes a clothes dryer as little as 71 minutes to exhaust the entire home’s air.
  • Replacement air comes into the home at every leak.
  • Then the HVAC System must cool or heat another 16,000 cubic feet of air to replace the exhausted air.

Pool Pump & Pool Heater

swimming pool

Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay 

Pool Pumps Are Somewhat Costly To Run. 

Energy Use Behavior: Here’s How To Cut That Cost By 2/3.

  • Energy Use Behavior: Reduce Pool Pump Costs X 2/3, or $162.50 per year.
  • A pool pump needs to run only 8 hours per day. *5
  • $250.00 Per Year For Pool Pump running 24/7.
  • Pool Pumps use 2,500 kWh per year when running 24/7.  At At 10-cents per kWh = $250.00 per year.

 

Keeping Your Pool Warm 24/7 Can Be Costly. 

Energy Use Behavior: Here Are Ways To Reduce That Cost.

  • $1,800.00 Per Year For Electric Heat-Pump Pool Heater.           $150.00 per month — running 24/7 **
  • An Heat-Pump pool heater must run all the time.
  • If you use your pool frequently, you can save money in DFW with a Heat-Pump Pool Heater. 
  • $3,600.00 Per Year For Natural Gas Pool Heater (temp = 78).  $300.00 per month — running 24/7 **
  • 8.35 BTU’s raises 1 gallon of water 1 degree. *4
  • It takes 8.35 (BTU) X 35,000 (gallons) = 292,000 BTU’s to raise the pool’s temperature 1 degree. *3
  • It would take a 100,000 BTU gas pool heater almost 3 hours to raise the pool temperature 1 degree. *3
  • A gas pool heater can heat the pool somewhat quickly. *4
  • Energy Use Behavior:  If you use your pool infrequently, you can save money in DFW with a natural gas pool heater — and only heating the pool when you plan to use it. 

Pool Cover:

  • Installing a cover over the pool will reduce heat loss, especially at night.
  • Solar pool covers are available that can help heat the pool for free.  They can add 4-8 degrees to the pool. *3
  • Solar pool covers cost up to $250. *3
  • A 6-year warranty solar covers lasts 1 season.  An 8-year lasts two seasons.  A 10-year cover lasts 3 seasons. *3
  • Pool cover reels are available in both manual and automatic.
  • Prices for manual reels are $200-500 *3.
  • Prices start at around $1,200.00 for automatic.  They last 4-8 years. *3

** Source: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/cost-comparison-running-electric-vs-gas-pool-heater-103068.html

*3 Source: https://www.riverpoolsandspas.com/blog/pool-solar-covers-prices-usage-longevity

*4 Source: http://www.inyopools.com/Blog/long-take-heat-pool/

*5 Source: http://www.inyopools.com/HowToPage/how_to_reduce_your_pool_pump_energy_bill.aspx?CommentPage=1

 

KITCHEN:

  • Energy Use Behavior: Clean or replace the shiny liners under your burners.  Clean liners ones reflect more heat toward the cookware.
  • Energy Use Behavior: Reduce the amount of baking you do in summer, especially during the heat of the day.  In addition to the electricity the oven uses, you must also pay for your a/c to remove the oven’s heat.  If a counter-top / toaster-oven will work, use it instead.
  • Electric ovens generate less heat.  This is because a gas oven requires combustion-air.  In order for it to get that air, it must exhaust some heated air to draw in fresh air.   Typically the air vents are at the bottom of the range’s backsplash.

Click Here To See A: Gas Range Oven Vent Hole’s

  • Energy Use Behavior: Run your dishwasher only when it’s full.  If there are 1 or 2 items you need, wash them by hand versus running the dishwasher.
  • Energy Use Behavior: Turn your dishwasher’s heated-dry setting to off.  Open the door when the it reaches the drying-cycle.  The dishes will be very hot and will quickly dry on their own.  During hot-heating cycles, your dishwasher can produce as much heat as an electric heater.

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Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar, and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Plano TX, Murphy TX, and Wylie TX.  We service all homes in southern Collin County TX and Denton County TX with no additional travel-charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.