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This is Part 2 of a 3-Part Article discussing low to modest cost ways to lower heating costs.  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; 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 and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.

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

 

20 Uncommon Ways To Lower Heating Costs (and cooling costs)

8. Have Ductwork Tested & Sealed (if needed)

ductwork for hvac system

Image Source: ShutterStock.com

The U.S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE) Says: 20%-30% Of Total Heating & Cooling Is Lost Due To Leaking Attic Ductwork.  **1   The older your DFW home is, the more likely the ductwork is leaking if sealing has not been upgraded and / or maintained.

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

Click Here To See Ductwork Being Sealed With Mastic: Sealing Ductwork With Mastic

 

Even perfectly installed ductwork must be maintained to ensure it doesn’t start leaking.  Each time the furnace blower-fan comes on, flexible ductwork moves a little (it’s designed to).  Over time, this movement may cause connections to come loose.

It’s also possible that rodents have damaged the ductwork by chewing through it.  Either problem sends your heating & cooling dollars into the attic.   Flexible ductwork may be damaged by mice in the attic.  They will chew through the ductwork, leaving a hole for heated / cooled air to escape.

Click Here To See Rodent Damage To Flexible Ductwork: Flexible Ductwork — Rodent Damage

9. Ductwork Can Be Tested For Blockages And Leakage

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

This YouTube Video Demonstrates Ductwork-Leakage Testing

A Great Way To Lower Heating Costs (and cooling costs) Is To Ensure Ductwork

In Not Leaking, Or Has Blockage (causing air-movement resistance).

This Is Called A Static Pressure Test:  Static pressure is air flow resistance within the HVAC System.   “Static Pressure” is the airflow resistance the blower-fan must push against to move air through the ductwork.  Measuring static pressure calculates how much airflow resistance currently exists.

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

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

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

 

NOTE: If the HVAC System was allowed to run until the air filter was so dirty (that it buckled) — the A/C cooling coil is likely clogged with dust.

NOTE: If you bought a used home and have not had the; ductwork, furnace, a/c cooling coil and a/c outdoor unit serviced and cleaned (if needed) — you may be overworking the HVAC system and using more electricity than if it were working without blockages that reduce air flow.  If any component(s) are dirty, cleaning them will lower heating costs.

NOTE:  A Dirty A/C cooling coil is moist all summer (it is what removes humidity from indoor air).  The mixture of dirt, moisture + a dark & cool environment is the perfect environment for mold growth.

Click To See An A/C Cooling Coil Covered With Mold.  NOTE: All Indoor Air Passes Through The Mold Each Time The Blower-Fan Runs. 

MOLDED A/C Indoor Cooling Coil

 

Years Ago It Was Common Practice Not To Seal Ductwork, Or To Seal It With Duct Tape 

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 allowed too much air to escape, or simply fall off after a few weeks or months of moving 167F degree air through the ductwork.  Researcher Iain Walker said, “We think that heat degrades the glue.” **2   DFW attics can reach 190F degrees in summer! 

**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/

 

Newly Installed Ductwork Is Now Sealed With Mastic

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

SHOWN: Ductwork Being Sealed With Mastic

Note: Click On White Arrow Above To See The Video

Mastic is a gooey, non-hardening material with a thick consistency.

  • 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.

 

  • As a “retrofit” to existing ductwork, some companies offer inside sealing of ductwork using a spray polymer.  As the polymer is installed, air pressure is added.  When finished, the polymer is pushed into gaps and leaks (it does not coat the interior of the ductwork).   This product seals small leaks.  It can’t seal large gaps or holes.
  • This is an optional upgrade offered by some duct-cleaning companies.  First they clean the ductwork, then inject the polymer.  The stated price is $1200-$1700 and depends on many factors such as how much leakage exists.  While pricing doesn’t make it an appropriate product to be in this “modestly priced improvements” — we want to make you aware of it.

 

10.  Flexible Ductwork Is Designed To Last Only The Lifespan Of One HVAC System 

photo of HVAC flexible ductwork

Image Source: ShutterStock

Shown: Flexible Ductwork

In hot attics, flexible ductwork is designed to last 10-15 years before it 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 Here To See Damaged Flexible Ductwork Sending Heating & Cooling Into The Attic:  Damaged Flexible Ductwork

 

Windows And Doors

photo of a new home

Image Source: Pixabay.com

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

The majority of heat loss due to windows is lost through the glass panes. 

  • Original DFW homes were built with insulated metal frame windows with single-pane glass.  They have an R-Value of R-0.73     R-0.00 is no insulating ability.
  • Today’s modestly price vinyl replacement windows have R-2.9     Click Here To See Modestly Priced Replacement Windows:**  Window World Of Dallas
  • The blackout, insulated liners (shown below) offer up to R-5.0.

** Note: Al’s does not endorse any brand of replacement windows because we don’t have knowledge of all available products.  Al’s does not sell or install windows.

11. Add Blackout, Insulated Curtain Liners

To Lower Heating Costs With Existing Windows, Add Blackout, Insulated-Liners behind your existing draperies for up to R-5 insulating value!   $25.  per window or less. 

NOTE:

  • The insulated liner shown adds +R-5 to any window.
  • In winter, open the drapery during the day and close it at sunset to maximize its effectiveness.  This lifestyle-change costs nothing.
  • In summer, if you have blinds adjust them to block sun entering through the window for maximized energy saving.  This lifestyle-change costs nothing.

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

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

 

12. Add Window-Film

Add Window-Film To North Facing Windows to lower heating costs.  Adding film to west facing windows will reduce cooling bills.

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

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 can be of great value if you have windows facing north.  North facing windows never get direct sun shining through them, so window-film won’t benefit your home with heat-rejection during summerr.  Adding window-film to single-pane windows can improve their glass’ heat-retention by up to 50% (details below).

photo of home windows from outside

Image Source: ShutterStock.com

New & Replacement Windows’ Energy Performance

Is Stated As Solar Heat-Gain Coefficient (SHGC) & R-Value

  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) represents how much Heat Comes Through The Glass & How Much Heat Is Absorbed By The Glass (then transmitted inward)
  • SHGC is expressed between 0–1.  The lower the SHGC, the better.  Lower SHGC = less heat or cold being transferred from outdoors to inside the home.

 

SHGC Ratings:

  • SHGC = .73     Single-panel glass with uninsulated metal frame.               NOTE: This is the window in most older DFW homes.
  • SHGC = .45*  Window above with window-film on glass
  • SHGC = .30    Low-E + Argon Gas Filled Double-Pane Glass in insulated vinyl frame.
  • Note: 25% of a window’s total area is represented by its frame.

* Adding Window Film to single-pane glass can improve it’s heat rejection or retention by up to 50% 

 

R-Value

R-Value – measures a material’s resistance to heat moving through it.  The higher the R-Value, the better the insulating ability.

R-Value Ratings:

  • R-Value = 0.7 Single-panel glass with uninsulated metal frame.
  • R-Value = 2.9  Modestly Priced Low-E + Argon-Gas Filled Double-Pane Glass with Vinyl Frame (vinyl frames are designed to insulate).
  • R-Value = 13   4″ fiberglass insulation in exterior walls in DFW homes built since 1980.  Older homes may have less or no wall insulation.  Texas required wall insulation starting in 1980).
  • R-Value = 13  Current Texas Building Code For Walls.
  • R-Value = 38  Current Texas Building Code For Ceilings (in attic).

 

  • Adding An Insulated-Liner Behind Your Existing Curtains 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.

 

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

 

12. Seal Leaks In Windows

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

  • Leaks around the edges of the windows
  • Leaks where the (bottom of) the top window sash meets the (top of) the bottom window sash.
  • Leaks where the bottom window sash meets the sill (bottom of the window frame).

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

 

13.  One Of The Easiest Ways To Lower Heating Costs

Is Reducing Air Leakage By Keeping Windows Locked

unlocked window with gap between sashes

Image Source: ShutterStock

This Photo Shows The Gap Between The Upper And Lower Window Sashes. 

Locking The Window Will Bring Them Close Together And Reduce Air Leakage. 

 

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

 

Some Newer Home Windows Can Be Tilted IN To Make Cleaning Easier.

photo of tilt in home window

Shown: Home Tilt-In Window

Image Source: ShutterStock.com

  • As they age, tilt-in windows can begin to leak air along the sides of the window .   The vinyl “jamb liner” (along the sides) begins to fit poorly due to the window having been pulled inside the house many times.  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 felt spacer be inserted behind the liner where the gap is located.

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

 

  • As windows age, it’s common for the caulk along the (outside) 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

  • As windows age, it’s common for the weatherstripping under the lower window panel to wear out.  This weather stripping can be replaced, or new weatherstripping be added within the gap between the lower window panel and the frame (it a gap exists).
  • Click Here To See The Weatherstripping Under A Window Panel: Weatherstripping Under Window Panel
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.