Are Energy Efficient Appliances Worth It?

Are energy efficient appliances worth the investment? That’s the million dollar question. Well, maybe not a million dollars, but certainly something worth considering if you are planning on investing in new appliances any time soon.

As more consumers take actions to “go green,” many companies are offering products that are more environmentally-friendly, including home appliances that reduce your energy use, such as refrigerators and washing machines. However, with all the hype around this trend, it can be hard to determine if these appliances are actually worth the investment when it comes to energy consumption and saving on your monthly bill. Below, we’ll cover a few different aspects to consider when purchasing energy efficient appliances to help you determine whether or not it is worth it.

Are Energy-Saving Appliances Worth the Investment?

Most energy-saving appliances come at a premium price, which can leave many homeowners wondering if the investment is really worth the savings that come with reducing home energy usage. In most cases, the answer is yes. Though the amount of money you will save over time depends on the appliances you replace, electricity costs, and energy efficient incentives available in your area, for the most part investing in these appliances can help you save more money over time while doing your part to help the environment.

According to Energy Sage, home appliances account for about 20 percent of a home’s total electric bill. Many energy efficient appliances use anywhere from 10 to 50 percent less energy each year than their non-energy-saving counterparts. The average home appliance can last anywhere between 10 to 20 years, which means that investing in energy-efficient appliances can provide a significant savings on energy costs over time.

Which Appliances Should I Replace?

Here’s a look at some of the appliances that you might consider replacing with more energy-efficient models:

  • Clothes Dryer – The clothes dryer is one of the biggest energy-using appliances in the average American home. In fact, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has found that the typical electric clothes dryer consumes as much energy each year as a new energy efficient refrigerator, clothes washer, and dishwasher combined! Upgrading to an ENERGY STAR dryer can help you cut down your energy usage by 20 percent, which results in a $210 savings over the lifetime of the dryer.
  • Refrigerator – The refrigerator is another big energy hog. You can save about 10 percent more energy each year by replacing your old refrigerator with a newer, more energy-efficient model.
  • Dishwasher – The dishwasher doesn’t use as much energy as your refrigerator, which is constantly running, and it also doesn’t use as much electricity as a high-heat clothes dryer. However, the energy usage does add up over time with the electricity and water that is needed to run your dishwasher each time. On average, you will save about 12-percent more energy each year by upgrading to an energy-saving model.

Want to save more on your monthly energy bills? Consider upgrading to an energy-efficient HVAC system from Carrier. These heating and air conditioning systems can help you save more money over time by heating and cooling your home more efficiently. Call today to speak with a home comfort specialist that can help you find the right energy-efficient HVAC system for your home: (951) 579-4523.

 

How is HVAC Energy Efficiency Measured?

If you’re in the market for a new HVAC system, it might be hard to navigate all the confusing terminology and acronyms to find out which system is right for you. Most homeowners are concerned about energy efficiency as they want to keep their monthly energy bills low. However, it can be hard to understand energy efficiency ratings if you don’t know the terminology or how these ratings are determined. In this post, we’ll talk more about how HVAC energy efficiency is measured and what you should look for when buying a new HVAC system.

What is SEER and EER?

SEER indicates the electrical input that is required to run your air conditioner over an average cooling season as compared to how much cooling the system generates. This rating is based on an average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit. EER is tested based on higher operating temperatures of about 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. EER takes humidity removal into account and basically measures a snapshot of a moment in time, which can be useful for showing how the unit performs at maximum capacity.

Both efficiency ratings are important to note during the buying process. The higher the rating, the less energy that the system uses. However, a high SEER rating does not necessarily mean a high EER rating. Often, a homeowner will need to install an air conditioning unit that can function efficiently in a range of conditions. The SEER and EER ratings help you determine how your system will function both over time and at maximum capacity.

What is HSPF?

HSPF is the heating seasonal performance factor. Much like SEER, this rating helps measure efficiency of the unit. HSPF measures efficiency over a heating season, and it is determined based on the ratio of heat generated to electricity consumed. The most efficient heat pumps produced today have a maximum HSPF rating of 10. This rating is important to look at when purchasing a split-system heat pump or single package as it gives you a better idea of how your heating system will perform over time in regard to efficiency.

Get Help Finding New Lake Elsinore HVAC System

If you’re ready to buy a new HVAC system, it’s important that you look at all your options for heating and cooling equipment. In addition to energy efficiency, there are many other factors that you should consider including brand, size, and cost.

The home comfort experts at Amber Air Conditioning, Inc. are here to help you find the perfect new HVAC system for your home. Not only do we help homeowners like you choose an affordable and energy-efficient new HVAC model, but we also provide expert installation services. We also have financing options available upon approval. Call us today for more information: (951) 579-4523.

3 Common Misconceptions About Energy Efficiency

We all have some pre-conceived notions in our heads about what it means to be energy-efficient. Whether you are picturing someone who lives off the grid or envisioning a smart house full of the latest technological gadgets to measure energy usage, the truth is that energy efficiency can be pretty simple.

We know that saving money is important to homeowners in Lake Elsinore, and that’s why we’ve decided to shine a light on the truth about energy efficiency. Below, we’ve take on three of the biggest energy efficiency myths and gone into a bit more detail about why these common misconceptions just aren’t accurate.

3 Energy Efficiency Myths (And Why They’re Wrong)

Though there are a lot of myths out there about home HVAC and energy usage, perhaps one of the biggest areas of confusion is energy efficiency. Here are three of the top common misconceptions about energy efficiency and why they’re not quite right:

  1. Being energy-efficient is the same thing as using less energy.

Though taking steps to use less energy is a great way to reduce your monthly home energy costs, this is not exactly the same thing as being energy efficient. Think about it in terms of work. If you are “efficient” at your job, it does not mean that you do less work than you normally would, it just means that you are getting the same amount of output with less input, working smarter, not less.

The same is true of energy efficiency. While taking steps like turning down your thermostat or turning off lights when you leave a room will help you conserve energy, it does not necessarily make you more energy efficient. It’s important to note that energy efficiency and energy conservation both play an equal role in cutting down the amount of energy that you use and reducing energy costs. However, your quality of life and comfort does not have to take a hit just because you want to save more energy. Which brings us to our next myth…

  1. Energy efficiency requires drastic behavioral changes.

When you hear the phrase “energy efficient” do you envision someone who lives off-grid using fire to keep warm and solar energy to shower? If you do, you are probably under the impression that energy efficiency requires home owners to make drastic behavioral changes in order to save enough energy to make a difference.

However, the truth is that you don’t have to live in an uncomfortable home environment just to enjoy the perks of energy efficiency. Remember, efficiency means getting the same output with less input. Investing in more energy efficient appliances and home systems can help you enjoy the same comfort levels while using less energy overtime. Even if you’re not ready to upgrade your entire HVAC system, there are other, more simple and less costly measures that you can take to heat and cool your home more efficiently.

  1. It’s expensive to make your home more energy efficient.

If all you can think about is $$$ when you consider your options for home energy efficiency, then you may subscribe to the myth that making your home more energy efficient is expensive. However, when you look at the long-term vs. short-term costs and savings of energy efficiency measures for your home, you’ll notice that this is just not the case.

When looking at the long-term costs of energy efficiency, you’ll find that energy-efficiency is an investment that helps you save more over time. Though that may not change the fact that an energy-efficient HVAC system is out of your price range, there are other steps that you can take to improve efficiency in your home like improving your home’s insulation and sealing cracks and leaks around doors and windows.

Interested in learning more about energy efficiency? This is just one of the many home improvement topics we cover on our blog each month. To stay up-to-date with the latest in energy efficiency, HVAC, and home comfort, follow our blog.

Save Money this Holiday Season with These Tips for Home Comfort

The holiday season is upon us, and along with celebrating, many homeowners are also considering how their heating bill may rise during the colder months. As a holiday gift to our readers, we’re giving away some great tips that will help you save money on energy bills this season. These simple ideas are easy to implement and can go a long way in keeping your home energy costs down.

Tip Number 1:

Be sure that your home is free of any drafts or outdoor elements by caulking and weather stripping your doors and windows. If possible, also hang heavy drapes over extra drafty areas to keep the cold air out and the warm air from escaping.

Tip Number 2:

Even though fireplaces are a popular go-to for warming up a home, many experts agree that fireplaces can cause a house to actually lose more heat than it adds. So, enjoy your fireplace on special occasions, but save your energy (and your heat) if you are considering your fireplace to be a possible way to reduce your heating bills.

Tip Number 3:

Install a thermostat that’s programmable. By decreasing the temperature in your home while you are away at work or even sleeping, you can save big over the course of a year. Many people sleep with heavy blankets, so a couple degrees’ drop won’t be very noticeable to most people, but lowering your home’s temperature for 8 hours each night can save you up to 5% on your home’s heating costs. If you also set your thermostat to drop to a lower temperature while you’re working, you’ll be able to save even more. The investment in a programmable thermostat is well worth the small cost upfront. These types of thermostats can be purchased at home improvement stores in various models and usually fall within the range of $60 to $200 USD.

Tip Number 4:

Utilize those sunny days! If you have south facing windows in your home, be sure to open the windows wide to let the sun shine in. The natural heat from the sun can add a significant amount of warmth to rooms, which means your furnace won’t have to work as hard to keep your home toasty.

Tip Number 5:

If you’re big on holiday lights, simply switching to LED lights can save you money on your electric bill. These types of lights use about 75% more energy than traditional incandescent holiday bulbs, and they last approximately 25 years. Save even more energy (and money) by unplugging your lights when you go to sleep.

Tip Number 6:

Layer up! Sweaters, blankets, and slippers or thick socks are perfect for reducing your heating bills. It seems obvious, but simply wrapping up in a blanket or by layering on a heavy sweater can go a long way in making you more comfortable in your home during the wintertime. By making yourself warmer and keeping cold air off of your body, you’ll be less likely to crank up the thermostat during colder weather.

Looking for more ways to save money this holiday season? A new, energy efficient HVAC unit may be just what you need. Contact us today for more information about our quality line of HVAC systems and products.

What is a Smart Thermostat, and Why Should I Care?

When you hear the phrase “smart technology,” your mind may instantly think of your smartphone. But did you know that the same technology used to power our smart phones and tablets can also be used to help you keep your home comfortable? Smart thermostats are a newer HVAC technology that has changed the way that people heat and cool their homes. Not only does this device give you greater control over your home comfort levels, but it can also help you save money on electric bills by helping you heat and cool your home more efficiently.

What is a Smart Thermostat?

A smart thermostat is a device that can used with a home automation system to give the homeowner more control over their heating and air conditioning. Much like a programmable thermostat, a smart thermostat allows homeowners to control the temperature of their home throughout the day. A smart thermostat is connected to the internet, allowing users to adjust the heating and cooling settings remotely from Wi-Fi enable devices such as a smartphone.

Many smart thermostat devices also offer important information such as the outdoor temperature, how long the AC or heat has been running, and when it is time to change your air filter. Some smart devices also learn your schedule and lifestyle habits. By knowing when your home is most likely to be occupied, smart devices can work to adjust the temperatures before you arrive so that your home is always a comfortable temperature.

How Can a Smart Thermostat Improve Home Comfort?

Smart thermostats make it easy to keep your home at an optimal temperature year-round. Adjusting your thermostat and other home comfort settings from the convenience of your smart device gives you greater control over your home comfort. The Infinity Remote Access Touch Control series of smart thermostats from Carrier offer a variety of standard features including:

  • Ideal humidity system management capable
  • Hybrid heat system management capable
  • Monitors indoor air quality products
  • Ventilation management capable
  • Knows percentage of air flow to each zone
  • 7-day programming (wake, away, home, sleep)
  • Simple vacation programming controls for temperature and humidity
  • Dirty air filter detection or fixed-schedule based filter replacement reminders
  • System maintenance reminders

Not only do these features allow you to keep your home comfortable throughout the year, but the maintenance reminders help you ensure that you are getting the most out of your HVAC system.

How Smart Thermostats Can Save You Money

Smart thermostats can also help you save money on energy costs. The Carrier Infinity Remote Access Touch Control series offers real-time energy use tracking that can show you how much energy you are using each day so that you can make adjustments to become more efficient. This smart thermostat also includes advanced smart setback so that you can have the best energy savings during away and ramp up periods.

How smart is your thermostat? If you want more information about smart thermostats and how they can help you improve home comfort and save on cooling costs, contact us today. Amber Air Conditioning is ready to help you explore your options for smart HVAC technology.

Can I Close AC Vents in Unused Rooms to Save Money?

If you usually use only a few rooms in your home, you may think that closing off a few vents will save money. In reality, closing off vents will not reduce the amount of work your air conditioner needs to do. In fact, it may cause your AC unit to work harder.

The Role of Vents in Home Air Distribution

Supply vents allow cooled air from the air conditioner to circulate throughout the home. Many supply vents are registers with levered handles, allowing homeowners to open and close them as needed. When you close one of these registers, the amount of air flowing through your ductwork does not decrease. Instead, air will hit the slats of the register. Air may escape through the cracks in the register, redirect to other vents, or leak from the ductwork.

Closing Air Vents Increases Pressure on the System

When you close air vents and redirect air throughout the ventilation system, the amount of pressure in the system increases, forcing the blower (the part that moves cooled air through the system) to work harder and less efficiently. Increased pressure inside the ductwork/HVAC system can cause serious problems.

Problems That May Arise from Closing Air Vents

Consider some of the problems that may arise when the pressure increases in the HVAC system:

  1. Worsening air duct leakage. Increased pressure forcibly redistributes the air inside the duct system. Since most residential duct systems are not sealed, the air will escape through cracks and effectively air condition your attic.
  2. Decreased energy efficiency. Some blowers adjust according to airflow needs. Other systems use a basic opened/closed system. The first type of blower will work harder to maintain temperatures and airflow in the presence of increased pressure. The second type of blower does not have the ability to work harder. It may simply work less efficiently and deliver poor airflow through the open registers in the home.
  3. Frozen air conditioner coils. Many systems are considered fixed-capacity systems. The coil and heat exchanger can only absorb or distribute a certain amount of heat. During times of inefficient airflow, the coil may not absorb enough heat to keep it running smoothly. In the absence of heat, the coil may grow cold and develop frost in the same way a refrigerator coil may freeze over. Ice on the coil will further decrease the airflow efficiency.
  4. Damaged heat exchanger. Low airflow will cause the heat exchanger to get hot enough to crack. Cracked heat exchangers can leak harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, into your home.
  5. Mold buildup. When airflow decreases and condensation builds in any part of the HVAC system, vents, air ducts, and the central unit may start to develop mold.

Contrary to what you might think, cutting off the air supply to a few rooms will not help lower your energy bill. To save money, consider using other energy saving tips, such as lowering the thermostat settings during winter and raising them during summer.

If you’re looking for new ways to save money on your cooling and heating costs, contact the HVAC experts at Amber. We would love to discuss the money-saving HVAC upgrades that are available to homeowners.

 

Should I Leave Interior Doors Open Or Closed During Heating And Cooling?

Recently, researchers have found out that simply keeping a bedroom door closed can adversely affect comfort, safety and health in a house. This is because it blocks the air’s pathway, thus reducing air flow into the room and through the system as well. Pressurization of the room, which is caused by air trapped within the space, forces the cool air out of the house. All this has a significant impact on the energy efficiency of a house.

How Closed Doors Affect Energy Efficiency

When air is forced out of a room under pressure, an equal amount needs to be drawn so as to replace the expelled draught. Depending on the number of closed doors, the rate of entry of hot or cold outside air could go up by anything between 300% and 900%. This raises utility bills, decreases comfort and brings in a host of health problems.
Since fluids seek the path of least resistance, the largest, straightest and smoothest holes offer the best pathways. Such include the water heater flue, chimney and furnace flue. This reverse flow of air brings in outdoor pollutants and humidity. The only noticeable symptom of this effect would be smoke being pumped back into the house.
Typically, indoor humidity will be at a level that’s more than 60%. Other telltale signs include streaks around the bedroom doors. There are charts that enable homeowners calculate the amount of air flowing into the building, which would be helpful. In some cases, the house could be drawing in about 1000 cubic feet of air per minute when all doors are closed.

Solutions

Such issues can be tackled by relieving the pressure in the bedrooms. This stops the carbon monoxide sensor from going off. The indoor humidity also plummets to an acceptable level, which creates conditions that are unfavorable for mold growth. Of course, any mold that’s already grown would need to be cleaned up.

One can also undercut the door by a few inches to allow the escape of air. However, some homeowners would find this unacceptable. As such, a return duct that goes back to the AC unit in each room can be installed to provide the necessary pathway. It can however be very expensive.

A cheaper solution would be the installation of transfer grilles or jump ducts to allow air movement between rooms. These give air a path back to the system which is always open. However, they don’t transfer sounds and cannot be seen through. This can be installed by the homeowner if they’re equipped with sufficient DIY skills or by a competent HVAC contractor. Follow our blog for more great HVAC information

You Can Learn To Control Costs Of Home Comfort By Understanding Their Origins

Winter is a time when the mercury drops and you are required to use devices to raise the temperature inside a home, so that you can live comfortably, without being overwhelmed by winter wear. In fact, the ideal comfort comes from temperatures that give you what is called “shirt sleeve weather”

Heating can be through fireplaces that use coal, wood or other fuel, but this gives localized areas of warmth, that can restrict movement within the home. Furnaces that heat up air and fans that blow them through ducts to the areas where they are needed are other alternatives. Individual heaters can also be used in spaces to heat air to the desired level. All these gadgets require different forms of energy whose costs for a home can be quite staggering. Are their methods to help in controlling home comfort costs?

The obvious one is to use equipment that is energy efficient and produces the maximum heat for the lowest consumption of energy. So, look at equipment with high energy efficiency ratings and you can save on running costs. You can also conduct an energy audit for your home with the help of experts. These professionals will come in with instruments that inspect each part of your home and try and spot any leakage that is leading to greater energy requirements. They will look at the equipment being used and suggest changes or modifications that reduce energy requirements. They will look at insulation of walls and the seals on your windows and doors of your home that is allowing heat to escape and increasing requirements for the equipments to function for longer hours. They will suggest the use of zone controls so that only the spaces that are in use are being heated. Technology has improved to allow this to be done automatically to set thermostats in different areas from a single control point. It is also possible for equipment sensors to switch off when they detect that an area is uninhabited.

Controlling home comfort costs is possible with a systematic assessment of present systems and their efficiencies. Make an effort to learn more about this from experts by calling on them for the right advice, which can lead you to the right solutions.