19 Sep How Much Energy Does Your HVAC System Consume?
If this summer is anything like last year, you can be sure your air conditioning system will have to work hard to keep your home cool. Heating and air conditioning is responsible for nearly 50% of your home’s overall energy usage. That is why it so important to maximize your home and HVAC’s efficiency.
FYI: Your second greatest energy consumer is your water heater. We wrote about maximizing your water heater’s efficiency here.
As summer approaches, it is important to know how much energy your HVAC systems consumes, and how you can save money by reducing its usage and maximizing its efficiency.
How Much Energy Does My Heating and Air Conditioning System Use?
In Raleigh, North Carolina, the average household spends between $1,750 and $2,500 heating and cooling their homes. Raleigh’s weather is characterized by hot and humid summers, relatively mild but often chilly winters, and significant temperature and weather swings throughout spring and summer.
In 2016 we have already experienced warm weather and severe thunderstorms in February and March, followed by multiple frosts and deep freezes in April.
Such a range in weather conditions increases the demand on heating and air conditioning systems. In addition to weather, your home’s construction and layout, the size of your HVAC unit, and the consistency of its maintenance can significantly impact its energy consumption.
Key Factors Increasing Your Energy Consumption
1) Your Home’s Construction: Types of exterior and interior insulation, windows and doors, floor plan, duct work layout, and vent placement all significantly impact the amount of energy required to heat and cool your home.
2) Your HVAC Unit’s Size: Load calculation is the term used to describe the process by which HVAC installers determine the size your home’s HVAC system. If a unit is too large, it will engage and disengage too frequently, consuming more energy than a properly sized unit would. If a unit is too small, it will run too often, consuming more energy than it should while failing to meet your heating and air conditioning needs.
3) Your HVAC Unit’s Maintenance: Improper and inconsistent maintenance will inevitably result in increased energy costs. Common HVAC maintenance errors include:
- Failure to change air filters: Air filters should be changed at least monthly.
- Refrigerant leakage: Leaking coolant causes your unit to work harder to keep your home cool in the summer.
- Improper thermostat placement: If placed in direct sunlight, or an unusually warm or cool place in your home, your thermostat will cause your unit to engage and disengage more frequently than it would otherwise.
- Failure to maintain proper clearance around outdoor unit: Your outdoor unit requires at least two feet of clearance for maximum efficiency and airflow.
4) Your Home’s Vents and Ductwork: Proper airflow is required for maximizing your unit’s efficiency. Improper placement of supply and return vents and ductwork will significantly increase your HVAC system’s energy usage.
It is a myth that closing vents in seldom-used rooms increases energy efficiency. Proper airflow is important for energy efficiency, and heating and air conditioning systems are designed to maximize airflow. Closing off a room or multiple rooms will disrupt airflow, decrease efficiency, and reduce the lifespan of your HVAC system.
A Few Quick Tips for Maximizing Energy Efficiency
Your energy consumption can be reduced significantly by taking steps to improve the efficiency of your home and air conditioning system. A few quick and easy practices include:
- Checking and changing your air filters at least monthly.
- Regularly checking for leaks. If you find any, call a professional for assessment and repair immediately.
- Maintain proper clearance around your outdoor unit.
- Make sure your indoor vents are unobstructed.
- Observe whether your thermostat is in direct sunlight or an unusually warm/cool area of your home.
Our maintenance plans are designed to maximize the lifespan and efficiency of your unit. In addition to avoiding costly repairs by catching small issues before they become major malfunctions, our maintenance plans pay for themselves in energy savings.