Archive for the ‘Energy Savings’ Category

Your Cooling System and How It Works – Part One

Friday, June 10th, 2011

After that 102 record breaker heat wave your air conditioner got a work out. The good news was is was a dry heat wave vs. the usual humid weather making it a little easier to cool the air in your home. Some common issues for houses that don’t seem to cool are restricted air flow from the cooling coil in your furnace. More often than not the coil is too small for the physical opening of your furnace. 

 If this were the opening of the furnace at the top the indoor coil should fit the actual physical opening. There are times when the coil may be a little smaller but it should not reduce the opening by more than 20%.  If the coil is smaller the reduction in the “push” of the air increases meaning the unit works very hard to distribute the cooler air in your home. Longer run times equal bigger bills from the electric company. The square footage is your home might only need a 2 Ton Cooling system but the 2Ton Coil might be too small for your furnace. This can be avoided by using the same brand cooling system as your furnace. The coils are usually manufactured for the furnace size opening, Using a different brand may not fit properly so BEWARE those reduced pricing air conditioning deals. Replacing the coil with the correct size will pay for itself in one cooling season and you’ll be more comfortable.


Another problem is a dirty coil. It’s very common for the heating and cooling systems to be in the same room as your washer/dryer. The lint from your dryer is sucked into the furnace and gets distributed through your furnace if you don’t change your filter frequently. Another common cause is pet hair and just plain old dust/dirt in your home. Yes, the picture below is a real picture. This is a coil that never got cleaned from a home where the filter boot return was at the bottom of the furnace (not recommended) that sucked air from the floor. The picture on the right is a clean coil. Check back later for part two.


Cooling Season here we come!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Only in Minnesota do we need to run the furnace and the air conditioning in a 24 hour period. You might have done this all ready but if you’re holding out here’s a quick checklist BEFORE you switch that button from heat to cool.

Remember, having your cooling unit serviced at a minimum of every other year insures a cooler summer with higher efficiency. A unit low on freon due to evaporation or leaking makes your unit run more frequently and for longer. Only a professional can check the freon level and gauge the pressure the freon is being delivered at. So, in the event you made the call and you’re waiting for the service guy go ahead and do these yourself.

  1. Clean your outdoor unit. This means removing your cover or cage and cleaning out the dead leaves, twigs and any pests that have taken residence. You can hose the unit down making sure you avoid over spraying the electrical connection.
  2. Make sure your disconnect is in tight and the breaker turned on.
  3. If you have a programmable thermostat check your summer settings or re-program.
  4. If you have an ERV or HRV turn the dial to summer mode and clean your unit and filters.
  5. If you have a whole-house humidifier turn it off. (If I did your install make sure you turn the damper handle from winter to summer.)


Tankless Water Heaters vs. Regular Storage Tank Water Heaters

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Rheem Tankless Water Heaters15% of your home energy costs is heating your water. With energy costs increasing more and more, people are considering tank-less water heaters.

I have to be honest that until recently, I really didn’t see the benefit until I read this report put out by the Office of Energy Security. It is a lengthy report so I’ve just hit the highlights here. I hope this helps you in your decision process.

Below is a graph that illustrates the DOE rating (energy efficiency based on units at 64 gallons per day) of a tank-less and regular water heaters, cost per year and savings per year if you used a tank-less unit.

Savings in Energy Dollars

Some concerns from homeowners during this study that you may want to consider before purchasing a tankless water heater are:

  • Higher Installation Costs
  • Higher Maintenance Costs
  • You may have to upgrade the gas-line from your appliance to the meter.
  • Savings in natural gas may increase electrical use if you purchase a unit that has frost protection. (This can be avoided by installing the unit in a conditioned space).
  • Low flow response for hot water can be a drawback on many models so make sure you check the gallon per minute requirement before you purchase. The lower the number the better.
  • The first 30 seconds delivers cold – hot – cold water dubbed the ‘sandwich’ effect.

Some positive feedback regarding tank-less water heaters are

  • After the 30 second wait for hot water the tank-less delivers the most consistent even temperature throughout a shower. (Even with the 30 second wait for hot water the study showed that tank-less users did not use more water than the regular water heater users)
  • Homeowners like that the tank-less units require so little space.
  • Homeowners feel better that they are leaving behind a smaller carbon footprint.

This graph shows the savings in energy dollars based on GPD (gallons per day use) over a regular water heater in calculated simple payback with an install cost of $2500.

Savings and Payback

If after this report you’re not convinced, (I realize the payback seems high but you have to consider the green effect) purchasing a new Energy Star rated regular water heater and wrapping it with an R11 thermal blanket can save you 7% and will only take 4 years to realize your payback!

Turn down the temperature setting on your water heater by 5 to 25 degrees’ you have an additional yearly savings of $7 to $36 a year. (The numbers at the bottom represent you lowering the temperature by 5, 10, 15 etc):

Temp Set

Rheem tank-less water heaters is rated one of the best for lowest flow rate for firing which is ideal. For more information on these units visit our website.