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75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Costs — Without Replacing HVAC

-Plus Many Ways Also Lower Heating Costs-

As We Discuss Ways To Lower Cooling Costs — We Want To Highlight That Heat Travels Toward Cold Year-Round. 

  • During winter, heat from the home leaks into the attic — through openings in the ceilings (like at light fixtures).
  • During summer, heat inside the attic leaks into the home through the same openings in the ceilings.


Energy Saving Thermostat Benefits

Part 1 of 5

photo of new home

Image Source: ShutterStock

This 5-Part Article provides 75+ ways to lower cooling costs.  Many ways also lower heating costs.  

Discussed In This Section Are:

  • Finding the Lowest-Priced Electricity Retailer.
  • Benefits of an Energy Saving Thermostat.  
  • Near the end of this section, we begin our next topic — Sealing Air Leaks.   
  • We continue that topic in Part 2. 

Note: This article is written for the Dallas-Ft. Worth area (DFW).    While many recommendations apply to other areas of the country — others may not. 

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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 Furnaces, 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.  We sell and install Rheem Professional Series gas & electric tank water heaters.  We also sell and install tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Plano, TX; Murphy, TX; and Wylie, TX.  We service homes in southern Collin 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 can arrange an appointment at your convenience.

An Energy Saving Thermostat Will:

  • Lower cooling/heating costs.
  • Have your home at the temperature you want — at the time you want it. 
  • Reduce HVAC System cycling (while the thermostat is set back). 
  • With attic ductwork — this reduces the number of times the ductwork must be recooled/reheated.
  • Next, the hot/cool air (that came from the ductwork) also must be recooled/reheated.
  • Make your HVAC System last longer (because it runs less).   

In Texas — Cooling & Heating Costs Represent 41% Of Residential Energy Bills

electricity distribution lines with transformers

Image Source: Shutterstock

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency ** In Texas:

  • Cooling & Heating Costs are 41% of total residential energy bills.
  • Texas cooling costs are 19%.
  • Texas heating costs are 22%.
  • The reason heating costs are so high is that nearly 2/3 of Texas homes have electric heat.
  • And Energy Saving Thermostat can reduce cooling/heating costs year-round.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau: *4

  • 61% of Texas homes have electric heating.
  • 35% have Natural Gas heating.
  •   3% have Propane Gas heating.
  • Natural Gas powers 61% of Texas electricity generation during summer.  *4
  • Wind (22%), Coal (13%), and Nuclear (10%) provide the rest of Texas’s electricity. *4

The #1 Way To Lower Cooling Costs (and Electric Heating Costs)

Is To Find The Lowest Priced Electricity Retailer *4

DFW is served by 1 Electricity DistributorONCOR.

DFW Is Served By Many Electricity Retailers.

Retailers Don’t Generate Or Distribute Electricity.  They Buy Electricity At Wholesale Prices — And Sell It At Retail Prices.

NOTE: DFW’s Only Natural Gas Provided Is ATMOS.  There’s 1 price for natural gas (though price may vary by location).


March 2021 Electricity Prices For: 2,000 kWh Rate in Oncor’s Service Area ***


  • Low:    7.5 cents ***
  • WTU Retail Energy
  • Price Protection Plan 12
  • High: 13.2 cents ***
  • Ambient Energy
  • Lone Star Classic 12 Plan).

You May Be Able To Lower Cooling Costs By Up To Half — By Simply Changing Your Electricity Retailer!

** Source: https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/purchasing-energy-efficient-residential-air-source-heat-pumps

*** Source: https://www.puc.texas.gov/industry/electric/rates/RESrate/rate21/Mar21Rates.pdf    PUC Stands For: “Public Utility Commission”.



All-Electric Homes And Heat Pump HVAC System.

Though this article focuses on ways to lower cooling/heating costs without replacing the HVAC System,

We want to provide heating costs insight for owners of All-Electric Homes — if you’re considering replacing their HVAC System. 

If this doesn’t apply to you — scroll down to: Energy-Saving Home Upgrades — Ranked By Return On Investment”.

gold medallion home badge live better electrically

Image Source: Flikr5376672_558ca02eef_z-2.jpg

An Energy Saving Thermostat Benefits Texas homes With Electric Heat The Most

Most Texas Homes With Electric Heat Are All-Electric:

When these All-Electric homes were built — Many Home Builders offered All-Electric as the “Standard” (no charge) choice.   This was because an electric furnace & water heater are cheaper than gas to purchase and install.  And, with an All-Electric home — there’s no natural gas line on the property.

Gas heat was “Optional”.  The home builder’s option price covered the cost for the gas line, and the higher costs for a gas furnace & gas water heater.   The home’s original buyer could chose gas and/or electric connection for the kitchen stove and clothes dryer.

There are also several DFW All-Electric Homes Communities.  In those communities — there is no gas service available within the community.   If you have electric heat, and live in a subdivision with natural gas service, you can convert from electric to gas heat — though it’s an expensive undertaking (details just below).

Converting A Home From Electric To Gas Heat Is Expensive Because:

  • A natural gas line must be installed to the home from the city’s natural gas main-line (under the street or alley).
  • This cost is paid by the homeowner.
  • A natural gas line must be installed inside the home to the furnace.
  • Exhaust venting must be installed for a gas furnace.
  • These costs are paid by the homeowner.

Note: We can’t provide cost estimates for these services.  Cost varies based on:

  • How far gas lines must be run.  This varies by lot & home size + furnace location.
  • How far exhaust-venting must be run.   This varies by house size.

PLUS, the average installed cost for a new furnace — for a 2,000 square foot home: *5

  • Gas = $5250
  • Electric = $3000  *5

With all these costs — it’s clear why Texas homeowners stay with electric heat — despite the higher heating costs.

But a Heat Pump HVAC System can notably reduce (electric furnace) heating costs.

  A Heat Pump Cools & Heats.  A Heat Pump looks the same as a Central A/C — Plus it has the ability to run in reverse to provide heating.

Average Texas Annual Heating Costs — By Type Of Fuel

  • $1,295.00 — Electric Furnace
  • $   810.00 — Standard Efficiency Heat Pump(37% less expensive to operate than an electric furnace).

Note: A Heat Pump has an electric furnace for auxiliary heating — for times the Heat Pump can’t keep up due to extremely cold outdoor temps.

  • $585.00 — 80% GAS Furnace — (45% less expensive to operate than an electric furnace).
  • $497.00 —  97% GAS Furnace

central air conditioner outside unit

Image Source: Dreamstime

Shown: A Heat Pump Looks Identical To A Central A/C

  • During summer, a Heat Pump extracts heat from indoor air and moves the heat outdoors.
  • During winter, a Heat Pump extracts heat from outdoor air and moves the heat indoors.

 

Heat Pumps Have 2 Efficiency Ratings: 

  • SEER (cooling) Stands For: “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating”
  • HSPF (heating) Stands For: “Heating Season Performance Factor”. 

Highest Efficiency Heat Pumps at the time this article was written: 

       SEER  HSPF 

  • 23.5     10.2      Lennox
  • 20.5     13         Carrier/Bryant
  • 15         8.5       Energy Star Minimum
  • 14        8.0       Texas Code Minimum — These Are “Standard Efficiency” Heat Pumps.


Energy Saving Thermostat

The #1 Energy-Saving Home Upgrade — Ranked By Return On Investment



You May Be Able To Install Some Of These:

  • Energy-Saving Thermostat — Programmable OR Smart Thermostat
  • Sealing Air Leaks
  • Solar-Reflective Window-Film (tinting) on west & south-facing windows (on single-panel glass). *

NOTE: Adding window-film to double-pane windows is not needed or recommended.

  • Insulated Draperies
  • Summer: Close Insulating Draperies on west-facing windows during the afternoon.
  • Winter: Close Insulating Draperies on north-facing windows.
  • Winter: Close all draperies after dark.
  • Add Attic Insulation
  • Add A Radiant Heat-Barrier in the attic.

Energy Saving Thermostat — Programmable

programmable thermostat

SHOWN: Energy Saving Thermostat — Programmable

Image Source: ShutterStock

Programmable Thermostats are inexpensive and easy to install.  A Programmable or Smart Thermostat is the most cost-efficient home upgrade to lower cooling & heating costs.  These thermostats only benefit you IF your home’s temperature is lowered at night and while at work (winter).   In summer, they will set your A/C cooler or warmer when you want (such as during the day while you are at work).

You program the thermostat to automatically set the temperature at the time you select.  Once programmed — the thermostat needs no further attention.

NOTE: These thermostats provide no benefit for homes that are always kept at the same temperature.

Energy Saving Thermostat — Smart Thermostat

nest thermostat in heating mode

SHOWN: Nest Energy Saving Thermostat

Image Source: ShutterStock

Click Here To Learn More About The Nest Thermostat:  AlsPlumbing.com Nest Thermostat

The Nest Smart Thermostat is a sophisticated energy-saving thermostat with many abilities.  The Nest Thermostat’s Buyer Satisfaction Rating Score is 4.5 Stars (out of 5) — with 18,500 buyer reviews on Amazon alone!   

The difference between a Nest Smart Thermostat and a Programmable Thermostat:

  • Nest learns your cooling & heating preferences — then it remembers them.
  • Nest programs itself — or you can program it.
  • Nest learns how long it takes to restore the temperature.  This ensures your home is at the desired temperature at the correct time.
  • Nest goes on-line to get the outside temperature.  Then it adjusts itself based on the outside temperature -and- how long your HVAC needs to achieve the reset temp.
  • The Nest Thermostat can sense and help reduce indoor humidity level (using the A/C).
  • Another valuable benefit is that Nest can notify your cell phone if the home’s temp gets too high or too low — indicating a possible shutdown of the HVAC system.

Why Seal Air Leaks?

According to the U.S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE)

  • Air-Leaks Account For Up To 30% Of Cooling & Heating Costs.
  • This also wears the HVAC System Out Up to 30% Sooner.

Click Here For The DOE’s Brochure About Sealing Air Leaks In Your Home: DOE Sealing Your Home

A Small Amount Of Air Leakage Is Required For Healthy Indoor Air

A home must exchange some indoor air with outdoor air — or indoor air would become toxic.  Emissions come from; fireplaces, gas cooking appliances, cigarettes, cleaning & perfumed products, and chemicals stored inside the home (+ other sources) — produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are off-gassing into indoor air.

Example: Anything that smells “new” (like new paint) — is off-gassing chemicals into the air.  Once the new smell is gone — most or all of the off-gassing has occurred.

  • The minimum Air Changes Per Hour = .35 ACH (35% or just over 1/3 of indoor air change with outdoor air each hour).
  • Some newer homes have an ACH rating as low as .05 (5% of an air change per hour) .*
  • If a home is built airtight enough to have less than 35% ACH  (nearly all new homes are) — Mechanical Ventilation is required.

* Source: http://www.lennox.com/iaq/ventilation.asp

  • If you have own (or have toured) a newly built home — many will have a owner’s bathroom vent fan that can’t be turned off.
  • It’s the Mechanical-Ventilation Fan.   This continuously running fan is in the owner’s bathroom because it’s typically the most humid room in the house.  There are many types of mechanical-ventilators — the bath fan mentioned is the least expensive solution, which is why it’s the most common.

Copy The Link Below Into Your Browser To See A Bathroom With A Mechanical-Ventilation Fan (near the center of the room) + a regular bath fan (near the shower):

https://www.tratonhomes.com/design-center/luxurious-baths/owners-bath/

  • A Texas home builder’s brochure mentions: “Fresh Air Intake Duct on A/C”.   This is where fresh (outdoor) ventilation-air enters the home.  This duct it inside the HVAC System,- to allow it to cool or heat the air (when running).  If HVAC isn’t running, the (outdoor) ventilation-air enters, and is routed through Supply-Air vents — which minimizes its effect on comfort.

** Source: https://up.codes/viewer/texas/imc-2015/chapter/4/ventilation#4

How To Test A Home For Air Leakage

  • Natural Air Leakage (NL) Is Defined As: “Unwanted Inward /Outward air leakage.”
  • A Blower-Door Test creates a vacuum inside the house — causing air to rapidly enter at every leak.
  • Without the vacuum — natural air leakage may not be identifiable.
  • This allows the tester to quickly identify each leak — and have some idea of how much air is leaking.

blower door test

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: A Blower-Door Tester Temporarily Installed In An Exterior Doorway

Air Changes Per Hour (ACH) During Blower Door Testing **

  •    <5 ACH = AirTight Home
  • 5-10 ACH = Moderately to Somewhat Tight
  • >10 ACH = Leaky

** Source: https://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/blower-door-test-results/

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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 Furnaces, 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.  We sell and install Rheem Professional Series gas & electric tank water heaters.  We also sell and install tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Allen, TX; McKinney, TX; and Frisco, TX.  We service homes in southern Collin 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 can arrange an appointment at your convenience.