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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.

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.

 

Why Does the Temperature in Your Home Matter?

 

Consider how much time you spend inside your home. For most families, the home serves as a sanctuary away from work and other daily responsibilities. Your home should be a safe and comfortable space that allows you to get things done when you want to and relax when you need it. For these reasons and more, the temperature in your home matters as it can impact different areas of your life.

Why Indoor Air Temperature Matters

Here are a few reasons why the temperature of your home matters for you and your family:

Indoor air temperature keeps your home comfortable.

This is probably the most obvious answer to this question. The temperature inside of your home helps you create a comfortable environment for you and your family. Whether you are making a meal in the kitchen, enjoying time with your family in the living room, or laying down for a much needed rest in your bedroom, the temperature of your home affects your ability to relax and feel comfortable.

If it is too hot or too cold for your liking, it can be difficult to focus on tasks or enjoy the time you spend at home. Temperatures that are too high may cause you to feel irritable or have difficulty relaxing, while temperatures that are too low may make it hard for you to think or focus and also make completing simple tasks harder.

The temperature inside your home can affect your health.

There are a variety of ways that your home temperature can affect your health. For instance, hot and humid houses are a breeding ground for mold and dust mites, which can trigger allergies, asthma attacks, and other respiratory issues. Mayo Clinic suggests maintaining a temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (or 20-22 degrees Celsius) and keeping humidity no higher than 50 percent.

Home temperatures can also impact your sleep quality, which is a vital part of maintaining a healthy body and mind. Sleep specialist, Dr. Christopher Winter suggests keeping your bedroom between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep as anything above 75 or below 54 degrees can disrupt your sleeping patterns. This is because your internal body temperature naturally cools off when you fall asleep, so lower room temperatures can help support a deeper sleep.

Temperature impacts your energy usage (and electricity costs).

The temperature in your home also significantly affects your rates of energy usage, which in turn impact your electricity costs. In fact, according to the California Energy Commission, you can save up to five percent in heating costs for every degree that you lower your thermostat between 60 and 70 degrees.

The harder that your HVAC system has to work to maintain indoor temperatures, the more energy that you use. There are measures that you can take to become more energy efficient and improve the temperature balance in your home. Installing better insulation helps you eliminate air loss and improve efficiency. Programmable thermostats can also help you better control temperatures when you are not at home, which helps cut down on wasted energy.

From servicing your HVAC unit to keep it running properly to installing a programmable thermostat, there are many ways that an HVAC professional can help you ensure that your home is just the right temperature. If you need help getting comfortable, don’t hesitate to contact us right away.

Thinking of Living Off-Grid? 3 Heating & Cooling Tips for Homesteaders

 

More and more American families are choosing to live off-grid or at least adopt some of the practices of homesteaders in order to make a more positive impact on their environment. Even if you are not planning to live completely off the grid, these alternative heating and cooling options can help you reduce energy consumption and may even be able to help you save some money in the long run.

Tips for Off-Grid Heating and Cooling

Here are some tips for heating and cooling for those who want to live off-grid:

  1. Make sure that your home is well-insulated.

One of the most important first steps in transitioning to off-grid heating and cooling is making sure that your home is well-insulated. A significant amount of energy is wasted when poor insulation allows warm or cool air inside the home to escape. By checking that your home is well-insulated and fixes any problem areas, you can help increase energy efficiency.

It is important to note that this is vital for any homeowner, not just those who are living off-grid. Making sure that your home is well-insulated will help you reduce the amount of energy needed to heat your home in cooler months and cool it down during warmer seasons. If you have an older home with an attic, make sure that you check this insulation. Any cracks or leaks in doors and windows should also be sealed as these areas often let air escape.

  1. Harness the power of the sun.

Solar energy is not only great for producing electricity, but it can also be used to heat your home. With passive solar heating, you can heat your home by designing your property to allow sufficient amounts of sunlight in. This type of solar heating requires special modifications such as dark colored floors, many windows, and insulation. Active solar heating involves using solar collectors to heat water that is used to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the home.

There are also solar air conditioning options which allow you to harness the power of the sun in order to cool your home down. A DC air conditioner runs on solar power during the day and solar-powered battery by night. These air conditioners sometimes require a larger up-front investment. However, there is often a quick return on investment given that they do not use electricity to run.

  1. Heat your home the old-fashioned way.

One of the most common off-grid heating options is the use of fire. Throughout history, this has been one of the most popular heating methods because it is fairly simple and quick to implement. This is also one of the more cost-effective options for those who are not able to implement solar technology right away.

Though heating with fire can be effective, it can only cover so much of an area. Back when fire was the main source of heat, families would heat the main living areas, allowing the bedrooms to become heated through convection and using blankets and layers of clothing to keep warm during the night. If you want to heat the entire house, you would need to have a fireplace or wood-burning stove in each room of your home. Due to the fact that most homes do not have these accommodations, this off-grid heating option requires some lifestyle changes.

Do you want to find ways to save energy without going completely off-grid? We would love to talk to you about your energy efficient heating and cooling options. Give us a call today.

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