Heating and cooling your home shouldn’t bust your budget. Fortunately, most new HVAC systems provide energy efficiency that simply wasn’t available in years past. When you’re looking for a way to improve your Sacramento home’s energy efficiency, consider these six HVAC factors that directly impact how much you spend on heating and cooling your home.
1. Quality Ductwork
Ducted, central HVAC systems can lose between 20% and 40% of the energy they consume during air distribution. Whether your current HVAC air ducts are getting old or lack insulation, it’s important to account for all necessary duct maintenance, repairs, or replacements when budgeting for your next HVAC installation.
On average, HVAC ductwork lasts between 10 and 15 years. Replacing your ducting when replacing your AC or heater is a great way to ensure that your ductwork seamlessly supports your new equipment. These are four most common types of air ducts that you can have installed:
- Flexible ducts
- Fiberglass ducts
- Sheet metal ducting
Comprised of a large, steel spring coil that’s wrapped in plastic, flexible ductwork is inexpensive and easy to install. Unlike rigid duct materials, flexible or flexi-ducts fit into tight, awkward spaces while eliminating the need for sharp angles in corners. This increases their efficiency by promoting steady airflow and limiting air resistance. However, this type of ductwork is not without its drawbacks. Due to their delicate designs, they’re more vulnerable to puncture and impact-related damage than other options wherever they’re exposed.
Fiberglass ducts are a top choice among Sacramento homeowners who are concerned about HVAC efficiency. Fiberglass ducts have thick, durable walls. They’re also lined with an insulating layer of fiberglass to minimize energy loss. Not only does this lining help homeowners keep their carbon footprints and home energy bills in check, but it also provides a modest amount of soundproofing. Thus, if you want both efficiency and quieter performance from your HVAC system, they’re a worthwhile choice. However, fiberglass ducts aren’t recommended for households that routinely struggle with high levels of humidity. Compared to all other residential duct types, these options are the most likely to develop problems with mold.
Comprised of either aluminum or galvanized steel, sheet metal ductwork is the longest-lasting option. They’re easy to clean and maintain, and if they’re properly sized and installed, they’ll offer consistently high levels of efficiency.
Fiberboard is a less common choice for residential ducting. Its primary attribute is its high level of adaptability. In spaces that aren’t large enough to accommodate other duct types, fiberboard can be customized. It’s made of fiberglass strands that are fused together with a thick resin. Fiberboard ducting has a foil lining at its exterior to prevent energy loss.
Depending on the nature and layout of your home, your HVAC installer may determine that one of these options is the best or only choice for your project. Although some HVAC air duct types are inherently more efficient than others, this doesn’t mean that they’re guaranteed to be more efficient in every environment. There are also times when tight spaces, atypical ceiling heights and building layouts, and other factors make it necessary for HVAC technicians to use more than one air duct material to accommodate all areas.
2. Good Energy Star Ratings
HVAC products with a distinctive blue and white “Energy Star” label have earned an Energy Star certification. This means that they meet or exceed the stringent efficiency standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that they use 8% less energy than standard models lacking Energy Star certification.
3. High SEER, EER, and AFUE Ratings
Determining whether a heater or air conditioner has a suitably high Energy Star rating is as easy as looking for a distinguishing sticker. However, there are other ratings to consider that are slightly more complex yet capable of providing far more insight. These are seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings, energy efficient ratio (EER) ratings, and annual fuel utilization efficiency ratings (AFUE). Across the board, high ratings denote higher levels of efficiency and lower ratings indicate poor energy use and higher operating costs.
For furnaces, boilers, and water heaters, AFUE ratings denote the amount of heat energy produced from the total fuel consumed. For instance, an AFUE rating of 85% means that a heater can convert 85% of the fuel that it uses into heat. The other 15% is lost due to incomplete combustion and converted into exhaust gases. However, this rating does not account for any additional heat energy losses that occur in ducting.
SEER ratings are calculated by dividing an air conditioner or heat pump’s cooling output over the course of an entire cooling season by the amount of energy it uses throughout this time. Introduced in 2023, the SEER2 rating system works essentially the same, however, the testing that determines SEER2 ratings accounts for how ducting and the related static pressure affect efficiency. In California, the minimum for SEER and SEER2 ratings are 15 and 14.3 respectively. Targeting SEER and SEER2 ratings that are slightly higher than this will optimize the efficiency of your HVAC system. It can also qualify you for several impressive tax incentives under the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.
EER ratings measure how efficient heat pumps and air conditioners are when operating at the peak cooling temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors and 80 degrees Fahrenheit inside. In California, an EER rating of 11.7 or higher is considered ideal.
4. Smart or Programmable Thermostats
Your thermostat is the brain of your HVAC system. It tells the system what to do and when to do it. Although standard thermostats are inexpensive and easy to use, they lack the necessary capabilities for optimizing HVAC efficiency.
With a programmable thermostat, you can adjust temperature settings in your home to reflect the needs and nuances of your day-to-day schedule. When you head out to work, your programmable thermostat will adjust to slow or stop heater and air conditioner operations. Just before you return home, your heating or cooling equipment will kick back into action to create your preferred climate.
Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi-enabled. Not only can you pre-program these units, but you can additionally access them from any location of your choosing by using an Internet-connected device.
5. Good Ventilation
Don’t forget the “V” in HVAC when choosing your new HVAC equipment. Good ventilation is critical for protecting your indoor air quality. If you take a proactive and strategic approach to ventilating your home, it can also reduce your home energy bills. For instance, installing a whole-house fan to supplement your AC could dramatically reduce your total cooling costs.
6. Variable Speed Capabilities
Variable speed capabilities are a modern HVAC equipment addition that allows furnaces and air conditioners to automatically adjust their operating speeds. This way, they can use the perfect amount of energy to suit the constantly changing needs of your household and living environment.
We proudly serve Sacramento, CA with superior heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair services. We also provide HVAC ductwork, whole-house fans, insulation, and electrical services. To find out more or to schedule an appointment, call Atticman Heating and Air Conditioning, Insulation today.