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This is Part 2 Of our 3-Part Article discussing 25 uncommon ways to lower heating bills — and cooling bills too.   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.  We sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (part of American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (part of York HVAC).

Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Additionally, Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  We are near your home in Plano, TX;  Allen, TX; and Frisco, TX.  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.

Click Here For Part 1 Of Our Article: Lower Heating Costs — Part 2

25 Uncommon Ways To Lower Heating Costs – Part 2 Of 3

With No To Modest Cost

(And Most Ways Lower Cooling Costs Too)

two central air conditioner outdoor units

Image Source: ShutterStock

 

This Is Part 2 Of A 3 Part Article.  Click Here To Go To Part 1: Lower Heating Costs: Part 1 of 3

8. Lower Heating Bills With Ductwork Sealing (as needed — which is likely)

ductwork for hvac system

Image Source: ShutterStock.com

Click Here To See Example Of Leaking Ductwork:  Leaking Ductwork 1

Click Here To See Example Of Leaking Ductwork:  Leaking Ductwork 2

Click Here To See Example Of Leaking Ductwork:  Leaking Ductwork 3

Click Here To See Example Of Leaking Ductwork:  Leaking Ductwork 4

Click Here To See Example Of Leaking Ductwork:  Leaking Ductwork 5

Click Here To See Ductwork Properly Sealed With Mastic: Mastic Sealed Ductwork

In Older DFW Homes — It’s Likely The Original, Metal, Attic Ductwork Was Not Sealed For Air Leaks.

In some cases, duct-tape was used.  Duct tape fails within days in hot attics — and DFW attics reach up to 160 degrees during summer. **1 & 2

In 1998, the Lawrence Berkely National Lab researchers performed a 3-month experiment to test the longevity of 31 sealants (including duct tape) in keeping ductwork sealed.  Researchers determined: Duct tape simply fell off after a few weeks or months of moving heated air through the ductwork.

**1 SOURCE:  https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_improvement.hm_improvement_ducts

**2 SOURCE:  https://www.saveonenergy.com/energy-saving-tips/duct-tape-surprisingly-not-for-ducts/

In Older DFW Homes — It’s Possible The Original, Metal, Attic Ductwork Was Not Insulated. 

Depending on if an older DFW home has its original metal ductwork, it’s possible your attic ductwork is not insulated.  If it’s exposed (above the attic insulation) and you see bare metal, it’s likely uninsulated.  With DFW attics as cold as 30 degrees in winter, and up to 160 degrees in summer — your HVAC System must heat / cool the ductwork before it can provide heat or a/c to the home. .

NOTE: Ductwork Insulation Prevents Condensation From Forming Inside The Ductwork.

Air Conditioned air passing through ductwork in warm, humid areas can cause condensation to form inside the ductwork.   Condensation leads to moisture buildup inside the duct system — and moving air will evaporate some of the condensation and add humidity to the living space.  Plus, over time, dust builds up inside ductwork.  Moisture and dust are all that’s needed to create mold and mildew growth inside the ductwork.   Then, each time the furnace blower-fan turns on — it blows active mold spores throughout the home.   Proper insulation prevents condensation from occurring.

Copy This Link Into Your Browser To See Several Photos Of Mold Growth Inside Ductwork:

https://www.google.com/search?q=molded+metal+ductwork&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS872US872&sxsrf=ALeKk03poa1OB_cvSC-WhHp79E_Ywe4UKQ:1611155376115&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiT1_u-5aruAhUQeKwKHVN9A_0Q_AUoAnoECA8QBA&biw=1536&bih=750

 

A Way To (Professionally) Test Ductwork For Leaks — And Seal Them In One Step

The U.S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE) Says: 20%-30% Of Total Heating & Cooling Is Lost Due To Leaking Attic Ductwork.

There are companies (one is: “Aeroseal”) that test ductwork for leaks — and many can seal the ductwork (from inside it) with a sealant.  Their sealant is introduced in the ductwork — and goes to locations where air is existing the ductwork (leaks).  The sealant enters the leak — and seals it within seconds.  The sealant attaches only to where air is leaking.

Note: We don’t endorse any specific brand of ductwork sealing.

 

Lower Heating Bills With DIY, User-Friendly Butyl Foil Tape To Seal Ductwork Air Leaks

Mastic is a great product — but can create quite a mess during installation.   For the DIY person wanting to seal ductwork air leaks — Butyl Tape will be easier to work with.

Butyl tape has foil backing and a thick layer of butyl adhesive that allows it to conform to more irregular shapes.  The tape shown can be used in applications with temperatures up to 220 degrees.   Butyl tape can be used in DFW attics, and all types of HVAC Systems.

  • DFW attics can reach 160 degrees during summer.
  • An electric furnace produces heat up to 170 degrees.
  • A gas furnace produces heat up 160 degrees.
  • A Heat Pump produces heat up to 95 degrees.

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Shown: Thermal-Barrier Ductwork Insulation R-8

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

 

Lower Heating Bills With DIY Mastic Ductwork Connections Sealer

  • Mastic is gooey and with a thick consistency during application.  It dries to a hard, long lasting seal.
  • HVAC Contractors like Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C can seal your attic ductwork for you.  Call Al’s to discuss getting a price for this service.
  • If you do it yourself, you can seal your ductwork at a small cost.  The product below is rated 5 Stars at Amazon.  It can be applied with a brush or putty knife.

Click Here To See How Mastic Is Applied: YouTube Mastic Application Video

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com.

NOTE: DIY Insulating And Connections’ Sealing Is A Job Best Done During Winter.   During Summer, You Could Be Working In Temps Of 160 Degrees Or Higher. 

Lower Heating Bills With DIY User-Friendly Ductwork Insulation

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Shown: Thermal-Barrier Ductwork Insulation R-8

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

The webpage describes this particular ductwork insulation as: “Reflects 97% of radiant heat & emits less than 3% of heat.  Class 1 / Class A fire rated radiant barrier.  Fiber-free, safe to handle and does not require protective clothing or respirators to install.

NOTE: There are many types of ductwork insulation.  We show this one because of the thermal-barrier (attic heat won’t pass through it) and that it does not have fiberglass.

Nearly All Of Today’s Newer Homes Have Insulated Flexible Ductwork

And Air-Leaks Were Sealed (some newer homes have metal ductwork)

In most cases, the ductwork will be insulated, flexible (not metal) ductwork.  Additionally, mastic was likely applied to ductwork connections.  Mastic is a fibrous adhesive that hardens into a long-term seal.  Mastic goes on like a paste — and takes a few hours to harden.  Then the seal is good for a long time.  The bottom link just above shows a photo of mastic applied to a ductwork connection.

Click Here To See Ductwork Properly Sealed With Mastic: Mastic Sealed Ductwork

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Shown: Thermal-Barrier, Insulated, Flexible Ductwork

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Note: We don’t recommend that your replace metal ductwork with flexible.  This photo is only to show you what it looks like.

 

Even Perfectly Installed Ductwork Must Be Periodically Inspected To Ensure It Hasn’t Started Leaking

  • In various locations, flexible ductwork may move a little each time the furnace blower-fan turns on (it’s designed to).  Over time, this movement may cause connections to loosen.
  • It’s also possible that rodents have damaged flexible ductwork by chewing through it.
  • Either problem sends your heating & cooling dollars into the attic.
  • With metal ductwork — these problems don’t happen.  But, most new homes have flexible ductwork.

Click Here To See Rodent Damage To Flexible Ductwork: Flexible Ductwork — Rodent Damage (holes)

 

Flexible Ductwork Lasts Only The Lifespan

Of The HVAC System It Was Installed With 

photo of HVAC flexible ductwork

Image Source: ShutterStock

Shown: Flexible Ductwork

In hot attics, old flexible ductwork becomes brittle and begins to fail.  The lifespan of this ductwork aligns with the lifespan of the HVAC System it was installed with.   When that HVAC System is replaced, the flexible ductwork must be replaced too.  Old flexible ductwork becomes brittle and tears.  A ductwork inspection will have a great effect to lower heating costs if the ductwork needs resealed, repaired or replaced.

Click Below To See Damaged Or Failing Flexible Ductwork:  Damaged Or Failing Flexible Ductwork

 

Restricted Air-Flow Through HVAC System

If HVAC System air-flow is restricted — the System must run longer and harder to heat and cool your home.  This increases heating and cooling costs — and wears the System out sooner.  Restricted air-flow can also cause furnace overheating (it will shut down until lit cools) and Frozen A/C Cooling Coil.  A frozen cooling coil can damage the outdoor A/C unit.

Click On This Link To See A Frozen A/C Cooling Coil: https://advanced-air.com/help-guides/troubleshooting/why-is-my-air-conditioner-frozen-on-the-inside

 

How To Test Ductwork For Air-Flow Restriction(s)

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

This YouTube Video Demonstrates Ductwork-Leakage Testing

A “Static Pressure” Test:  Static pressure defined is: “Air flow resistance within the HVAC System.”   “Static Pressure” is how much airflow resistance the furnace blower-fan must push against to move air through the ductwork.  A Static Pressure Test measures how much airflow resistance currently exists.

  • A LOW Static Pressure Reading Means: there’s less air coming out of the ducts than going into the furnace.
  • This means the ductwork is leaking.
  • A HIGH Static Pressure Reading Means: there is too much airflow restriction within the HVAC System.
  • This may be caused by: DIRTY AIR FILTER, Clogged A/C Cooling Coil, Closed Vents, OR blockages in ducts, improper duct sizing (too small), or kinked flexible ductwork.

 

Top Causes Of HVAC Systems Air-Flow Restriction(s)

DIRTY FURNACE FILTER

Lower Heating  Bills By Checking Furnace Air Filter Monthly

dirty air filter on left. New air filter on right.

Check Furnace Filter Monthly — And Replace It When Needed (If It Looks Dirty — It Is, And It Needs To Be Replaced).

  • If a disposable air filter becomes too clogged — it will buckle and allow air to bypass it.  Then over time — unfiltered air clogs the A/C Cooling Coil and fouls all the ductwork.

Click Here To See How An Air Filter Buckles If Used Too Long: Buckled Furnace Air Filter

CLOGGED ELECTRONIC AIR CLEANER MEDIA

Lower Heating  Bills By Maintaining Electronic Air Cleaners. CLOGGED ELECTRONIC AIR CLEANER MEDIA

To function properly, Electronic Air Cleaners’ media must be kept clean.   Check it monthly.  The filter media need cleaned as often as a disposable air cleaner needs replaced.

How often depends on the household:

  • Older homes leak more outside air into the home.  The air comes with dust and other pollutants.
  • More occupants cause the filter to be cleaned more frequently.
  • Shedding pets have the same effect.

Copy The Link Below Into Your Browser To See A Dirty Electronic Air Cleaner Media:

https://activerain.com/blogsview/3522802/so-you-have-an-electronic-air-cleaner—is-it-doing-anything-

This article shows several photos of dirty electronic air cleaner media.

CLOGGED A/C COOLING COIL

Image Source: ShutterStock

Shown: This HVAC System’s Cooling Coil Is Inside The Furnace (behind the yellow tool the man is holding).

  • This coil is inside the furnace or ductworkThe A/C cooling coil is wet during summer (it removes humidity from indoor air).  Then, dirt and moisture create the perfect environment for mold growth.

Click To See A Clogged A/C Cooling Coil (inside furnace or ductwork & can’t be seen):  Clogged, Indoor A/C Cooling Coil

Click To See A Clogged A/C Cooling Coil Covered With Black Mold:  A/C Indoor Cooling Coil Covered With Black Mold

TOO MANY DUCTS CLOSED

A Single-Speed HVAC System (most are) — was designed and installed to be operated with all ducts open.  When you close more than 2 — it causes pressure to build up inside the ductwork.

 NOTE:  This doesn’t apply if you have a variable-speed HVAC System — it will slow the furnace fan when ducts are closed.

 

Ductwork Cleaning Is Much More Than Just A Good Idea

Your health is impacted by dirty air ducts.  All furnace filters allow some dust through. For a filter to be so efficient that it wouldn’t allow dust through — it would dramatically reduce air-flow through the HVAC System.  Reduced airflow causes the System to work harder and longer than it’s designed to.  This causes increased heating & cooling bills — and wears the HVAC System out faster.

Over time, all ductwork gathers dust.  Then, each time the furnace blower fan turns on — it blows dust mites (and their feces) all over the house.   Add the potential for mold growth — and you have great reasons to keep ductwork clean.   Because DFW summer humidity is so high — it’s not rare that condensation forms inside the ductwork.   Dust and moisture are all mold needs to establish and grow.  If mold’s present — each time the furnace blower-fan turns on, it blows mold spores all over the house.

Depending on; the number of occupants, presence of shedding pets, and the age of the home (old home leak more outdoor air into the home) — ductwork should be cleaned every 1-5 years.

Copy This Link Into Your Browser To See An Unnerving Photo Of How Dirty Ductwork Can Get:  https://dirtyductscleaning.com/duct-cleaning-images.php

(NOTE: Click On The Second Photo (top row) To See.)

TIP: If you bought a used home — have the; ductwork, furnace, a/c cooling coil and a/c outdoor unit serviced and cleaned (as needed).   If left unmaintained, the HVAC system works harder and longer to cool & heat your home.   This increases cooling & heating bills.  And, the harder & longer the HVAC System must run — the faster it wears out.

Windows And Doors

photo of home windows from outside

Image Source: ShutterStock.com

Windows & Exterior Doors Account For Up To 21% Of Heat Loss

The majority of heat loss with windows is through the glass panes. 

  • Most older DFW homes were built with with single-pane glass & uninsulated metal frame windows.  They provide R-0.7    (R-.00 = no insulating ability).
  • Today’s modestly price vinyl replacement windows provide R-3.4.
  • Today’s premium priced wood replacement windows provide R-3.6.
  • Blackout, insulated curtain liners (discussed below) offer up to R-5.0.

New & Replacement Windows’ Energy Performance Is Stated As:

NOTE: Though this article isn’t about expensive energy-saving improvements — this information is valuable to those considering replacing their windows.

NOTE: The Energy-Saving Performance of modestly priced replacement windows is near that of premium priced windows.  We provide details for each below.

1. Solar Heat-Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

2. U-Factor 

3. Air Infiltration

Solar Heat-Gain Coefficient (SHGC) Rating:

  • SHGC is amount of the sun’s heat transmitted through a window — and into the room.
  • SHGC Range = 0–1.  A Lower SHGC rating is better.  Lower SHGC = less heat or cold comes through the glass into the home.
  • SHGC = .73     Single-panel glass with uninsulated metal frame.
  • This is the window in most older DFW homes.
  • 25% of a window’s total area is represented by its frame.
  • SHGC = .45*  Single-panel glass + window-film added.

NOTE: Adding Window Film to single-pane glass improves it’s Heat Rejection (summer) & Heat Retention (winter) by more than +50%. 

  • SHGC = .30    Modestly Priced Low-E + Argon Gas Filled Double-Pane Glass in insulated VINYL frame. **
  • SHGC = .20    Premium Priced Low-E + Argon Gas Filled Double-Pane Glass in WOOD frame. ***

SOURCE: https://www.greenbuildermedia.com/buildingscience/window-film-a-cost-effective-window-retrofit

SOURCE:  https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy13osti/55444.pdf

SOURCE:  http://www.coloradoenergy.org/procorner/stuff/r-values.htm

R-Value / U-Factor

R-Value measures the rate at which heat flows through an object.  A higher R-Value =  less heat the windows glass allow through it — going inward into the home (in summer) and outward from the home (in winter).   A window’s Rvalue is calculated from its U-Factor — by dividing the Uvalue into 1 (Rvalue = 1/U-value).  A Higher R-Value Is Better.

R-Value Ratings:

  • R-Value = 0.7 Single-panel glass with uninsulated metal frame.  R0.0 = no insulating ability.
  • R-Value = R-3.4  (1/.28) Modestly Priced, Low-E + Argon-Gas Filled Double-Pane Glass with VINYL Frame
  • Vinyl frames provide some degree of insulating.  **
  • R-Value = R-3.6  (1/.28) Premium Priced, Low-E + Argon-Gas Filled Double-Pane Glass with WOOD Frame. ***
  • R-Value = 13” fiberglass insulation in exterior walls in DFW homes built since 1980.
  • R-Value = 15  Current Texas Building Code For Walls.
  • R-Value = 38  Current Texas Building Code For Ceilings (in the attic).
  • Older homes have less or no insulation — depending on when they were built.  Texas began requiring wall insulation in 1980.

 

Air Infiltration:

Air Infiltration indicated how much outdoor air the windows leak into the home.   A Lower Air Infiltration Number Is Better (less air leaked).

  • 0.18    Modestly Priced VINYL Frame Window.  **
  • <0.20   Premium Priced WOOD Frame Window. ***
  • The air infiltration performance of wood windows may be affected by currently humidity level.
  • In lower (winter) humidity — wood can shrink.
  • In higher (summer) humidity — wood can swell.

** Source:  https://www.windowworldgulfcoast.com/products/windows/double-hung-windows/  (For Window World 4000 Series).

***  Source: https://www.andersenwindows.com/~/media/aw/files/technical-docs/performance/performance-windows-patiodoors-nfrcratings–400series.pdf  (For Andersen 400 Series).

10. Lower Heating & Cooling Bills With Insulated Curtain Liners

To Lower Heating Costs With Existing Windows — Insulated Drapery-Liners add up to +R-5 insulating value At $25. per window or less.   

They’ll also reduce outdoor noise entering the home.

  • Today’s modestly price vinyl replacement windows provide R-3.4.
  • Today’s premium priced wood replacement windows provide R-3.6.
  • Blackout, insulated curtain liners (shown below) provide up to R-5.0.

NOTE:

  • The insulated liner shown adds +R-5 to any window.  It provides the most benefit with old, single-pane windows with uninsulated frame. 

Some Lifestyle Habits To Reduce Heating & Cooling Costs:

  • In winter — open the drapery when sun shines through the window.  Otherwise, it’s best to keep draperies closed.
  • This lifestyle-change is free. 
  • In summer —  if you have blinds, adjust them to block the sun from shining through the window and into the room.
  • This lifestyle-change is free. 
  • In summer — close draperies on west-facing windows from noon until sunset (or leave them closed all the time).
  • This lifestyle-change is free.
  • An Insulated Curtain-Liner Adds Up To R-5.0 To The Entire Window (glass + frame).
  • An insulated-liner does not improve the SHGC (heat gain from the sun).  That must be done with window-film — details just below.

** Source: http://www.designsewlutions.ca/r-value-and-drape-insulation/

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

SHOWN: Insulating Draper Liner (insulated draperies are also available)

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com.

11. Lower Heating & Cooling Bills With Window-Film

  • To Lower Heating Bills –Add Window-Film To North-Facing Windows.  South-facing windows have the sun shining through them during daytime in winter.
  • To Lower Cooling Bills — Add Film To West-Facing Windows.   East-Facing windows can also benefit — but the outdoor temp is lower in the morning.

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

SHOWN: Solar Window-Film

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Adding window-film to single-pane windows can improve the glass’ heat-retention (in winter) by up to nearly double (details below).

While the primary benefit of window-film is heat-rejection (for summer) — window-film also helps Retain Heat during winter (to a lesser degree).  This is of great value for older, north-facing windows.

NOTE: Don’t add window-film to dual-pane (insulated) glass.  The heat build-up between the panes (caused by the window-film) can cause the thermal-seal to fail, and the windows will get foggy.  It also voids the glass warranty on many brands of windows.

NOTE:  If you have Low-E (high performance)  windows — you don’t need window film.  These windows typically come with a layer of window-film installed.

12. Lower Heating & Cooling Bills With By Keeping Windows Locked

unlocked window with gap between sashes

Image Source: ShutterStock

This Photo Shows The Gap Between Where The Upper & Lower Window Sashes Meet.  

Locking A Window Brings The Upper & Lower Windows Closer Together And Reduces Air Leakage. 

 

12. Lower Heating & Cooling Bills By Sealing Air Leaks In Windows

Windows Can Be A Large Source Of Air Leakage.  This Is Due To:

  • Leaks around all edges of the windows
  • Leaks where the (bottom of) the upper window sash meets the (top of) the lower window sash.
  • Leaks where the bottom window sash meets the sill (bottom of the window frame).
  • These leaks can be reduced by keeping windows locked.

Click Here To See A Window Diagram With Labels: Window Diagram With Labels

Locking the window forces the upper window and lower window more tightly together.  The weatherstripping at that location is designed to seal tightly only when the window is locked.  When unlocked, the weatherstripping separates a bit to minimize wear as windows are opened & closed.

An Easy Solution For Leaking Windows Is Rubber-Strip Weatherstrip.

This product sits sticks to the window — and then overlaps the space between the window and the window frame (the window can be opened as desired).

Click On The Link Below To See A 1-Minute Video Demonstrating The Product.

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

SHOWN: Rubber Strip Weatherstrip

Click On Photo To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com.

Recaulk Along The Outside Edges Of The Window (as needed) 

  • Over time — it’s common for the caulk along the (exterior) edges of the window to: shrink, crack or fall out.  If this has occurred, recaulking the window will notably reduce air leakage between the window and the wall.  It also keeps water out of the wall.

Click Here To See A Window Needing Recaulked: Window With Failed Caulking

NOTE: Some Windows Can Be Tilted In To Make Cleaning Easier.

photo of tilt in home window

Image Source: ShutterStock.com

Shown: Tilt-In Window

  • As they age, tilt-in windows can begin to leak air along the sides of the window.   Over time, the vinyl “jamb liner” (along the sides) may begin to fit poorly due to the window due to wear (from the lower window being pulled inward and pushed back into place for cleaning).  In some cases the jamb liner may need to be replaced.
  • Gaps are particularly prone to occur at the lower corners of the jamb liner.  In this case, the jamb-liner can often be pulled inward and a insert felt spacer behind the jam liner at the gap.

Click Here To See A Vinyl Jamb Liner: Vinyl Window Jamb Liner

Click Here To See A Tilt-In Home Window (Most Tilt-In Windows Have Jamb-Liners):  Tilt-In Home Window (scroll down)

Note: The Plastic Jam-Liner Is Identified In The Photo.

This Article Explains How To Replace A Jamb-Liner: FamilyHandyMan.com Steps To Replace A Window Jamb-Liner

 

This article was about unusual ways to lower heating bills.  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 northeast in Wylie, TX; Murphy, TX; and Rowlette, TX.    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.