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Nov 20, 2012 1:00 PM  PST  

GreenPointers: Heating and Cooling 



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GreenPointers: Heating and Cooling


Our series of GreenPointers provide helpful tips for a healthier, greener home in a variety of topics. Today's topic is heating and cooling.

It costs about $1,000 a year to heat and cool a typical home, according to the federal Energy Star program. How can you make sure your system is as efficient and effective as possible?

Learn the basics of energy-efficient home heating and cooling systems. This knowledge will serve you well when interviewing contractors, comparing estimates, and overseeing or doing work in your home.


Green Pointers

Here are some things to keep in mind when making your flooring choices:
 
Step 1

DESIGN YOUR HVAC RIGHT

  Right size it: When heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors provide you with bids for a new or expanded system, they will make recommendations for equipment size. Often, these recommendations are based on the contractor's professional experience and on rules of thumb used to estimate things like furnace capacity and duct diameter.

These rule-of-thumb calculations are not adequate to ensure that the HVAC system will be efficient and effective. In fact, many commonly used rules of thumb result in oversized systems that waste energy and cause comfort problems.

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), an industry trade association, has developed a set of calculation manuals to determine the appropriate size and design of a home's HVAC system. Have contractors refer to manuals J, D, and S.

Read more about the best HVAC system design.

Step 2

MAKE YOUR DUCTWORK WORK FOR YOU

  Insulate: insulate existing ductwork to present building code levels or greater. When installing new ductwork, keep the ductwork within the building's insulated envelope. Ductwork that is installed outside of a home's insulated areas, such as above an insulated attic floor, can waste a lot of heating and cooling energy, even if the ducts themselves are wrapped with insulation.

Seal your ducts: Gaps in the joints of ductwork have been shown to allow 20% to 30% of heated or cooled air to leak out, wasting energy. Don't use duct tape to seal ducts; it loses its effectiveness in a few years. To maintain a tight seal for decades, use a water-based duct mastic at every joint and seam or have professionally installed aerosol sealant sprayed into the ducts.

Learn the six strategies to improve duct effectiveness.

 
Step 3

CONSIDER CEILING OR WHOLE HOUSE FANS

  Ceiling fans make people feel more comfortable by circulating air, not cooling it. Energy Star–qualified models are energy efficient thanks to improved motors, blade designs and fluorescent light kits. They can be operated to either draw warm air upward in the summer or push it downward in the winter.

Whole house fans are used instead of an air conditioner to cool a house at night. They exhaust warm indoor air and bring in large volumes of cool outdoor air. An average whole house fan uses one-tenth the electricity of an air conditioner.


 

Read the complete heating and cooling GreenPointers.










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