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45 Ways To Lower Cooling Costs Without Upgrading A/C

summer heat advisement

air conditioner from the 1950sready kilowatt

Here Are Great Ways To Lower Cooling Costs Without Upgrading Your A/C

Can you lower cooling costs without upgrading your A/C?  Yes!  There are many things you can do to povide year-round energy savings.  These suggestions allow your A/C to run less and lower cooling bills without sacrificing comfort.

Another benefit from many of these suggestions is they will make your home quieter.  As you: increase attic insulation, seal air-leaks, and provide more coverage over windows, you will have reduced the amount of noise entering your home through these three primary sources.

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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 (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, Murphy, Wylie and Rowlette.  We service all homes in southern Collin and Denton Counties 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

Cooling & Heating Is Up To Half Of Total Energy Bills

According the the U.S. Dept of Energy (DOE), cooling and heating costs are 43% of your total energy bills.  It’s a safe assumption that cooling costs are higher in DFW than most U.S. locations.  The chart shows and average for the entire U.S.

Percentage Of Total Residential Energy Usage

percent of total residential energy use by type of energy usage

Source: Center For Climate and Energy Solutions

 Energy-Saving Upgrades With Rapid Return On Investment

Click Here For The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Brochure Dedicated To Sealing Your Home From Air Leaks: DOE Sealing Your Home

Given the long list of home expensive energy-saving upgrades you can purchase (such as new Low-E windows), the inexpensive or low cost upgrades below represent the best investments to lower cooling (and heating) costs:

  • Programmable Thermostat
  • Sealing Air Leaks
  • Solar-Reflective Window-Film (tinting) on west and south facing windows (not required with newer, Low-E windows)
  • For Summer: Adding Insulating Draperies on west and south facing windows (will double efficiency of Low-E windows)
  • For Winter: Insulating Draperies on north windows in winter (will double efficiency of Low-E windows).
  • Attic Insulation
  • Radiant heat-barrier (in the attic)

The Recommendations Presented Above Are In The Order Of Their Cost Versus Savings.

Programmable ThermostatProgrammable thermostats

Programmable Thermostats are inexpensive and easy to install.  They are the most cost-efficient way to lower cooling costs.  They will set your A/C cooler or warmer when you want (such as warmer during the summer while you are at work).

NOTE: Programmable thermostats are designed to reduce cooling and heating demand during times when the home is not occupied, or at night.  They provide little value for homes that are always occupied or homes where the heat is not reduced at night.

Smart Thermostat

nest thermostat

The Nest Thermostat has different colored displays based on if it’s cooling or heating + the standard display.

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

You may be aware of the Nest Smart Thermostat, a sophisticated device with many capabilities.  The Nest Thermostat’s Buyer Satisfaction Rating Score is 4.5 Stars (out of 5) with 12,600 buyer reviews on Amazon alone!   

The difference between the Nest Smart Thermostat and a Programmable unit is:

  • Nest will learn your cooling / heating habits and program itself.
  • Nest learns how long it takes to restore the temperature.  This ensures your home is the desired temperature at the right time.
  • Nest goes on-line to get the outside temperature, then varies the reset time based on the outdoor temperature.
  • Another huge feature is the Smart Thermostat’s ability to sense and control indoor humidity level (using the A/C).

nest thermostat showing weather forecast Nest uses the weather forecast to adjust the reset temp. time.  It can also display the forecast.

Early-On: Nest’s “Early-On” feature combines the thermostat’s schedule with the knowledge it has gained with the “Time-to-Temp” feature.  It knows when to start the HVAC to achieve the desired temperature at the preset time. If you told the Nest you arrive home from work at 5 pm and you want the house to be 70 degrees, Nest will begin to cool / heat the house at the correct time based on outdoor temperature. It won’t start cooling or heating earlier or later than required.  Programmable thermostats reset at the times you tell them to.

  • Nest Connects To Your Home’s Wi-Fi
  • You Can Operate It From Your Cell Phone with the Nest App.
  • It Details Your Heating / Cooling Energy-Use History.
  • It Notifies Your Cell Phone If Your Home’s Temperature Is Too High Or Too Low, due to a possible shutdown of the HVAC system.

Attic Insulation

blown in insulation

Shown: Batt Insulation between the horizontal lumber (the ceiling is nailed to) + Blown-In Insulation being installed over batts.

The second highest benefit energy saving effort is adding insulation (if needed).  It’s quick and easy to add blown-in insulation to any attic. Adding insulation is very cost-effective and provides year-round energy savings.  Also, thicker attic insulation dampens outside noise entering through the roof & ceilings into the living space.

How Much Insulation?  The map below shows DFW in Zone 3 for Required Insulation Values.

map showing zones within U.S. for insulation valuesinsulation recommendations for each U.S. zone

The U. S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE) recommends attic insulation of R-30 – 60 for DFW

TX Building Code requires R-38.  We will use the DOE mid-point of R-45 attic insulation for Zone 3.  1 inch of blown fiberglass insulation provides R-3.25.

As shown in the photo above, 4-6 inches of batt insulation is typically between the horizontal lumber in attic (what ceiling drywall is nailed to). This provides R-13 to R-19 Insulating Value.

For R-49, the attic needs:

  • R-19      6 inches of batt fiberglass insulation
  • R-26  + 8 inches of blown fiberglass insulation
  • If no batt insulation exists, 14 inches of blown fiberglass insulation is needed

If Only 5% Of Your Attic Floor Is Not Covered With Insulation

The Overall R-Value Of The Entire Attic’s Insulation Is Reduce By 1/2!

It’s common for people working in the attic to kick insulation out of their way.   Do any required work in the attic before insulating.  After insulating, keep workers out of the attic unless it’s absolutely necessary, and check to see if they moved insulation out of their way.

thermo-image of attic temperature

Shown:  This Thermal-Image Of A Homes Shows Its Attic To Be 170 Degrees.

thermal image of missing attic insulation

Shown: This Thermal-Image Shows Where Attic Insulation Is Missing (bright yellow square).

Attic Radiant-Heat Barrier

When you are outside on a hot day, you feel cooler when you are in the shade.  The shade blocks the sun’s radiant-heat on you body.  If it is sunny and 90 degrees outside, your roof can reach 160 degrees.  Then the roof acts like a radiator, as heat passes through the roof and moves into the attic space.

Your home has attic ventilation to help remove heat & humidity.  It brings in outside air and exhausts the hottest air near the peak of the roof.  A foil radiant-heat barrier blocks most of the radiant heat from entering deeply into the attic (beyond the foil).  It channels that very hot air toward the top of the attic where it’s removed by the attic ventilation.

Foil Radiant-Heat Barrier being installed

Shown: Foil Radiant Heat-Barrier Being Installed

Shown: Insulation Temperature = 90 Degrees (left) With Foil Barrier On Top Of Insulation.  On right temp = 152 degrees.

Note: This photo is for demonstration purposes.  The Foil Radiant-Heat Barrier Is Always Attached To The Bottom Of The Roof Lumber.

A Side Note: Types Of Attic Ventilation In DFW Homes

Older DFW homes have turbine-vents.  They spin as the heat pushes outside through them (the spinning helps speed air removal).

attic ventilation turbine

Shown: Attic Turbine Vent

photo of attic gable vent photo of attic soffit vent  Intake-air comes through gable vents (left) or soffit vents (right).

 

Newer Homes Have Continuous Ridge-Vents.  They Are Under The Shingles At The Peak Of The Roof.

close up photo of continuous ridge vent attic ventilation system

Shown: Most newer DFW homes have Gable Roof Vents (see vertical slots)

photo of attic gable vent being installed

Shown: Most newer DFW Homes Have This Type Of Gable Vent (see slots in the recesses at a base of yellow line).

Provide Shade Over Near Your Roof

home shaded by nearby shade trees

We noted earlier that a roof can reach 160 degrees on a 90 degree summer day in DFW.  It’s certainly going to be even hotter when it’s 105. Shading your roof from west and south sun will have a tremendous effect on the temperature of the attic — and the cooling demand on your A/C.  It’s not necessary the tree limbs reach over the roof — it’s actually better that they don’t due to possible damage to the roof.

Surfaces that are shaded from the sun will be up to 40 degrees cooler than those in direct sun.  This number is even larger in your home’s attic.  With DFW summer attic temps reaching as high as 175 degrees, shading the attic can reduce the temperature by up to 60 degrees.  Also, the darker your roof color, the more shade will reduce attic temperatures.

If the front of your home faces west or south, you will enhance the home’s curb-appeal and reduce cooling costs with well placed shade trees. If the home faces east or north, the shade trees need to be in the rear lawn.

A Side Note: Shading Your Roof May Make Shingles Last Longer

final results of roof single cleaning to remove moss

To resist breakdown, roof shingles have hard mineral granules added on top of the asphalt to help block the sun’s rays. The thickness of the asphalt layer affects the durability of shingles (thicker shingles last longer than thinner ones).  Warranties for asphalt shingles range from 20 years up to 40 years.

Asphalt and Fiberglass shingles are the same thing and either description is correct.  Fiberglass is the reinforcement fabric that holds the shingle together. The shingles contain asphalt as the water-resistant material.  *1

*1 Source: https://www.iko.com/na/residential/homeowner/facts-myths-about-asphalt-shingles/

diagram showing all layers of an asphalt shingle

Shown: Diagram Shows The Layers Of Materials For An Asphalt Shingle *2

*2 Source: http://www.flatroofspecialist.ca/residential-roofing/

When installed new, roof shingles have oil in the asphalt that allows for daily expansion and contraction.  This is critical for performance and longevity.  As shingles age, the oil begins drying out.  This takes 6-12 years, and happens faster based if the home is in an area that has hotter summers and sun intensity. This causes the asphalt to become brittle.   Once brittle, the shingle is more susceptible to cracking, breaking, curling and tearing.

*3 Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/roof-maxx-launches-worlds-first-sustainable-solution-for-asphalt-shingle-roofs-300509282.html

Sealing Air Leaks

According to the U.S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE) — Air-Leaks Account For Up To 30% Of Total Cooling & Heating Loss

The pie-chart below shows the primary locations of air-infiltration into your home.  Sealing air-leaks provides year-round savings plus can reduce house cleaning, as air leaks bring dust into your home.

where home air leaks occur in a pie chart

The DOE identifies the percentage of total air-leakage at the most common air-leakage locations.

 

These Are The Most Common Places Where Homes Leak Air. The Older The Home Is, The More Of These Exist.

air leak at plumbing penetration air leak window air leak at door sweep

Gaps around penetrations in the walls.                                                          Gaps at windows and doors.

air leak bath vent fan air leak ceiling light box gap between hvac boot and ceiling needs to be caulked closed

Gaps around openings in the ceilings.                                                                     Gaps between ductwork and ceiling.

air leak electric outlet add gasket at light switch

                                                                                               Gaps around outlets & switches.

air leaking through recessed light 

Older recessed light fixtures are not sealed above.   There are products to cover the light in the attic.

a fireplace damper in open position fireplace balloon A fireplace balloon seals leaking dampers.

Fireplace dampers that don’t close tight.  Or worse yet, are left open when not in use. This represents p to 14% of total air leakage.

A Side Note: Doesn’t Air Leakage Provide Fresh Air?

All homes need air exchanges with outside air to maintain Interior Air Quality.  But most homes leak far more air than is needed.  Also air leakage through walls and ceilings isn’t “fresh” air.  The air has passed through contaminants as it infiltrates into the home.

Air Changes Per Hour (ACH) is a rating system to determine how quickly the home exchanges air from the outside through air leaks. The minimum ACH for a home is .35 (3 times per hour).  If a home does not have at least 3 air changes per hour Indoor Air Quality will be unacceptable.  A DFW Energy Star Rated Home cannot have more than .5 ACH (twice per hour).  A late 1970’s built home has as man as 17 ACH! *

* Source: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/revisiting-energy-saving-handbook-1979

The only safe air is air that comes directly into the home from outside. However, lots of air leaks pass through the walls, attic & ceilings.  For example, air leaking into your home from doors or walls (shared with a garage) is a source for carbon monoxide.

Air that has passed through walls (such as air coming in around electrical outlets) or the ceiling is passing through insulation that is filled with dust and may have some actively growing mold in it.  The photo below shows a home leaking air into the living space through wall areas covered in black mold.

home exterior rotting due to air infiltration

This home’s exterior wall is rotting and filled with black mold.

Identify & Seal Air Leaks

To Find Air Leaks, Have An Energy-Audit Done For Your Home.

There are services that only do Energy Audits.  Others also perform the required energy upgrades for a fee.

blower door test

* An Energy-Audit includes a “blower door test”.  This temporary door-enclosure allows the house to be “negatively pressurized” which causes air to flow into the home at every place the home is leaking air.  This is the easiest and most comprehensive way to identify all places where the home is leaking air.

Click Here For A YouTube Video Showing A Blower-Door Test + Places The Home Is Leaking Air: Blower Door Test

If you feel the cost for the Energy-Audit is too high (keep in mind some sources may be free — do a google search). You can perform a Do It Yourself Air-Leakage Exam (which will not be nearly as comprehensive).  There is a low cost Thermal Leak Detector (Model TLD100) from Black and Decker for about $30.

thermal detector deviceOne retailer has these marketing comments:

  • Uses infrared sensors to measure surface temperatures
  • Helps homeowners track down energy-wasting air leaks or places where there is insufficient insulation
  • Sold with a 5-step guide to fixing basic energy leaks and comes with the thermal leak detector

NOTE: This post’s author has no personal knowledge of this device or how well it works.

Seal Leaking Windows

TIP: Unlocked windows leak notably more air than when locked.  When you lock the window, it forces sashes (the bottom of the upper pane & top of the lower pane) tightly together.

photo of lock on home window

Shown: Locked Window Is Pulled More Tightly Together

thermal image of air leaking past and around a window

Shown: This Thermal Image shows air leakage between sashes: 1. window locked (left) & 2. window unlocked (right).

The darker the purple, the more cold air coming into the home.

Old Windows Are Likely To Leak Air Due To Worn Out Weatherstripping

Replacing worn weatherstripping on the moving pane(s) of older windows can make them much more energy efficient.  An Energy Audit will identify windows needing weather stripping replaced.

TIP: For unused windows, a simpler solution is to use Sealing Tape over the gap.

diagram which identifies all parts of a window

Diagram identifying the components of a window

weatherstipping at the bottom of the lower pane in a window

Add new weatherstripping at the bottom of the lower sash of existing window.

pile weatherstripping

Add new “whisker” weatherstripping along the sides of the lower sash of existing window.

Most metal windows use “whisker” weatherstripping on the sides of moving windows.  This weatherstripping incorporates a plastic divider in the center of the whiskers.  If that plastic is worn out the window leaks a lot of air.

TIP: Whisker weather stripping slips into place.  It’s not attached to the window.

 

Click Here For A Dept. Of Energy A Brochure about Sealing Your Home:   DOE Sealing Your Home

 

Ductwork Inspection To Determine If Leaking

Up to 40% of the air you paid to heat & cool can be escaping into your attic from leaking ductwork.  Ductwork can have air leaks to do poor installation, or degradation of sealing materials which has occurred over time.  It’s not hard to bump a heat duct while working in the attic.  Though it may appear fine, an air leak may have just begun.  Also, there are some practices, used in ductwork installation in the past, which allow for a large number of air leaks.

Duct tape fails very quickly in hot attics. Mastic is what is needed to seal ductwork for a long time.  If only 1 leak is found, lower cooling costs can pay for the inspection and repair costs in as little as one summer.

hvac flexible ductwork which has come loosehvac ductwork which has come loosehvac ductwork sealed with mastic

Ductwork which has become disconnected due to failed duct tape.                This photo shows mastic to seal ducts.

Add A Whole-House Dehumidifier

Indoor humidity levels of 60% or higher decrease comfort and typically require cooler indoor-air temperatures.

The Heat-Humidity Index chart below shows what a temperature will feel like at different humidity levels.   If you find your indoor humidity level to often be near 60% or higher, the addition of a whole-house dehumidifier may be a good investment, both in therms of lower cooling bills and increased comfort.

chart showing heat humidity index

Can’t this be done with a portable dehumidifier? Yes, but…  As portable dehumidifiers remove humidity, they reheat the air as it exits the unit.  The result is the air going back into the room will be +10 to +15 degrees warmer.

If your dehumidifier uses 250 watts, it produces 875 BTU’s of heat for each hour it is running.  By the time your a/c removes the added heat from the dehumidifier you will not lower cooling bills and may raise them.

TIP: Rather than using a portable dehumidifier, install a 5,000 BTU window a/c.  The best location is the kitchen, as it’s a source of lots of heat and humidity.   With a window a/c, you get the benefits of a portable dehumidifier + cooling.  And all heat generated stays outside.

SOURCE:  http://www.allergyconsumerreview.com/dehumidifiers-answer.html#sthash.PWUC8HKH.61ql4IO2.dpuf

 

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Install Window Film

Insulating films reflect the sun’s heat in summer, and retain up to 55% of your home’s heat in winter.  Insulating  or reflecting window films are affordable, energy-efficient improvements for existing single-pane windows.  Films can pay for themselves in less than 1 year through lower cooling costs.

NOTE:

  • In hot-weather climates like DFW, purchase window-film which installs on the outside of the glass.
  • Interior installed films on dual-pane glass is not recommended.  It causes heat build up between the pains which may damage the glass.
  • If you have Low-E glass, there is no benefit from adding window-film + it might void the warranty.

Add Insulating Draperies

Add and close insulating-draperies over windows in rooms when they are not in use (year round).  Insulating draperies increase insulation where your home needs it most, at its windows.

insulated draperies

If you have old metal windows with single-pane glass:

  • Their Glass R-Value = R- .85 (less than 1%)
  • The uninsulated metal frame is R-.65 (2/3 of 1%)

A newer, High-Efficiency window produces:

  • Glass value of up to R-2.75
  • Insulated frame R-1.75.

 

 

 

An insulated drapery panel can produce up to R 7.  This is 2-1/2 times the insulating value of a newer High-Efficiency window.  And, if you have old single-panel metal windows, the improvement is much higher.  These draperies can be used with High-E windows for nearly  R-10 (most DFW homes have R-13 insulation in exterior walls).

insulated drapery liner There are also Insulating Drapery-Liners which can be hung behind your existing drapes.

Note:

  • You lower cooling costs by adding insulating drapes to west & south facing windows.
  • If the sun does not shine directly through the glass (like a north exposure), there is no sun-generated heat coming through that window.
  • You lower heating bills the most with insulating drapes on north facing windows.

Add electrical outlet & light switch gaskets on both outside and inside walls.  Air leaks into the home through the gap between the outlet and its cover. Also, interior walls often leak as much air as exterior walls.

Remember this principle:  Cold travels toward heat because cold air is more dense than warm air.  Outlet gaskets lower cooling bills too.

  • You can lose cooled air at an outlet in summer.
  • You can gain cold air at an outlet in winter.

electrical outlet gaskets

On A Side Note — Is There Anything I Can Do To Insulate My Floors?  

Cold floors and slab foundations go hand in hand.  There are various websites which say to insulate around the perimeter of the home, but little can be found as to how to do it.

A Google search found ThermalDry Floor Decking.  The photo below is from their website.

thermaldry brand insulated subflooring

NOTE: Al’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning does not sell or install ThermalDry floor decking.  We do not endorse the product only because we have no direct knowledge of the product.   There are DFW contractors who sell and install this product, please consult with any of them for more details.

Our Energy-Use Behaviors Are Responsible For 1/-1/2 Times the Energy Usage Of The Structural Components Of Homes!

The Biggest Opportunity For Energy Savings is You

energy savings through behavior change

billboard about electricity savings

pie chart of energy usage behavioral

Shown: The Pie-Chart Above Shows:

  • Structural Components of the home can represent up to 41% of energy usage.
  • Our own behaviors represents 59% of energy usage. 

percent of total residential energy use by type of energy usage

Percentage of Total Energy Consumption broken down into Specific Areas Of Consumption

By becoming “Energy-Use Aware”, you can lower cooling costs and heating costs.  By becoming aware of the areas where large amounts of energy are used, it becomes easier to lower total energy usage.

  • The single habit of checking your furnace filter each month (and replacing when needed) can reduce cooling costs by up to 15%.

dirty and clean furnace air filter

  • Cleaning a dirty outside a/c unit can reduce cooling costs by up to 35%!

very dirty and clogged a/c condenser coil

  • Lighting consumes 11% of the total energy used in homes.  
  • 100 watt incandescent light bulb generates 341 BTU of heat per hour
  • 100 watt-output Compact Fluorescent Bulb (CFL) creates 102 BTU per hour
  • 100 watt-output LED creates 3.4 BTU per hour

If you are still using incandescent or halogen bulbs,  you can reduce your lighting energy-usage by up to 90% with LED lighting.   This would reduce Lighting Energy Consumption from 11% to about 1%.  You also lower cooling costs, as LED bulbs produce only 10% of the heat as incandescent light bulbs.

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

VAMPIRE ENERGY USE

  • Set-Top (cable) boxes for each TV — 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 electricity as a newer refrigerator.”  Using that much electricity generates a lot of heat.  Lower cooling costs by shutting them off when not in use.

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

  • Turn off the television when no one is watching it.  Today’s HD televisions produce a lot of heat.  ENERGY STAR’s list of LCD TVs includes models with screen sizes ranging from 16-65 inches use 18-198 watts.  Plasma TVs ranging from 42-65 inches use 90-214 watts!
  • Not using it? Turn it off.  We tend to leave a lot of things running all the time which don’t need to be.  Great examples are computers & video games.
  • Unplug things you rarely use.  If you use a coffee maker only on the weekends, its clock is using power 24/7.

KITCHEN:

  • 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 all the heat from the oven.  If a counter-top / toaster-oven will work, use it instead.
  • Clean or replace the shiny liners under your burners.  Clean liners ones reflect more heat toward the cookware.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A full refrigerator uses less electricity.  Much of the air exists a refrigerator when you open the door.  Keeping it full reduces the amount of air inside.  If you don’t need its entire capacity, fill it with 1 gallon bottles of water.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Clean the coils under your refrigerator, especially if you have shedding pets.  The coils can clog to the point the refrigerator is starved for the air it needs to cool itself.   The more clogged the coils are, the longer the refrigerator must run, while generating heat the entire time.  dirty refrigerator coil under refrigerator
  • Do you have an energy-hog lurking in your kitchen?  A refrigerator built around 1985 uses 1400 kWh and generates 475,000 BTU of heat per year.   A new Energy Star refrigerator uses 350 kWh, and generates 119,000 BTU of heat.  A new refrigerator uses about 1/4 of the electricity of a 15 year old one.

Your A/C must remove refrigerator-generated heat during the summer.  When considering replacing your refrigerator, consider both the electricity used by the refrigerator plus the electricity used to remove the refrigerator’s heat with the a/c.  Y

SOURCE: http://www.theunitconverter.com/btu-to-kilowatt-hour-conversion/1400-btu-to-kilowatt-hour.html

  • Moving the old hog to your garage?   If it costs $168 a year to run it in the kitchen, it’s likely to cost $225 in the garage.  If you want to run it only for those occasions when there is not enough space in the kitchen fridge, that makes sense.  Otherwise turn it off.  It won’t mind, it’s old and tired anyway.  🙂

BATHROOMS:

  • Upgrade your shower head.  Use a low-flow / 2.5 gallon-per-minute shower head. Standard shower heads use 4-7 gallons per minute.
  • Fix those drips. Leaky faucets in the sink and shower waste water and energy. Hot water drips can cost you a lot of money over time. Have faucets replaced or repaired right away. Over time the repair will pay for itself in savings of water and energy.
  • Use cold water when you can. For example, when washing toothpaste down the drain, cold water works just as well as hot.
  • Run the exhaust fans when you shower.  That air from a shower is loaded with heat and humidity.  The higher your home’s humidity, the cooler is must be to feel comfortable.  Turn fans off as you exit the bathroom.  They pull in outside air (through leaks) while they are running.
  • If you don’t have water-saver toilets, add a Toilet Tank Bank.  It takes space in your toilet tank, which causes the toilet to use less water.

toilet tank bank

LAUNDRY ROOM:

  • Wash in cold water when you can.  We all want certain items washed in hot or cold, but sometimes it’s just a habit which has no merit. Washing in hot water represents 90% of the total energy used to wash laundry.  Washing in hot water adds heat and humidity to your home.
  • Don’t dry… dry clothes.  Set the dryer so it does not run after clothes are dry.   The dryer create heats, uses energy, and exhausts large quantities of air from the house while pulling in hot, humid air.
  • Clean the dryer lint-trap each time you use the dryer. Built up lint is a fire hazard and extends the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
  • Going on vacation?  Let your water heater have a vacation too.  Turn a gas water heater to “pilot” and turn off an electric one at the circuit-breaker panel.
  • Add a water-heater blanket. This adds a second layer of insulation which reduces heat loss from the storage tank.

 

SUMMARY:  This article provides 45 Ways To Lower Cooling Costs Without Upgrading Your A/C.  Additionally, there are easy ways to save on heating costs plus lowering the cost of other larger energy users in your home (such as refrigerator maintenance).

This is not to suggest there is no merit in replacing and old a/c.  A new A/C installed in DFW must have a SEER of 14 (SEER = Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, a standardized guide to comparing the efficiency of different A/C brands and models).  A/C built between 1980 to 1985 have a SEER-7, which uses twice the electricity (for the same amount of cooling). 

seer rating of a/c based on a/c age   photo of Trane XE 800 a/c This Trane XE 800 a/c has a SEER of 8.

All that being said, there are many ways to lower your cooling costs by maintaining your existing a/c.  For those who own a trouble-free old a/c and cannot or do not want to replace it, you can do a lot to lower cooling costs by:

The top things you can do to lower cooling costs are:

1. Check the furnace filter each month and change when needed.  If it looks dirty, it is, and it’s time to replace it.

2. Keep the outside unit clean by spraying water into the silver fins surrounding the unit (you will have to remove the top to get to them).

Have an A/C Tune-Up done by an HVAC Technician.  They will check the refrigerant level and all operating systems to ensure the a/c is running at its peak capacity & ability.  Most can also clean the outside unit during a Tune-Up.

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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 (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 Allen, Frisco and McKinney.  We service all homes in southern Collin and Denton Counties 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