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Archive for Energy Savings

R-22 Phase-Out: What It Means for You?

Posted by Empire Blog at 10:19 am on November 2, 2016

United States EPA
Final Rule Phase Out of R-22R-22 Phase Out Graphic

In recent years, the EPA has been phasing out R-22. R-22 is a refrigerant used in older HVAC units to help keep indoor temperatures cooler. As the temperatures get warmer during these hot and long summers, your AC gets used more and more. This places a huge burden on your system resulting in potentially costly repairs and maintenance.

In the past, a simple solution was to pump more R-22 into an HVAC system. Chances are that if your AC unit is 5 or more years old, it may use R-22. However with the phase-out of R-22, supplies of the refrigerant are getting restricted and homeowners need to think twice before applying this simple recharge fix.

Reasons for Restrictions

R-22 is a refrigerant that is a CFC or chlorofluorocarbon. It is well known that CFCs can react with chemicals and cause damage to the ozone layer. By enacting a phase-out, the EPA hopes to reduce reliance on R-22 and encourage use of more eco-friendly chemicals.

One reason the EPA created restrictions on R-22 was to make the price go up. This makes consumers think long and hard about alternatives instead of performing a simple recharge with R-22. Some alternatives include purchasing more efficient systems that use eco-friendly chemicals.

Another reason is to encourage homeowners to have their HVAC professional fix leaks instead of pumping more R-22. Fewer leaks reduces R-22 consumption and could potentially save money especially when the price of R-22 is so high.

New Systems

The EPA started placing supply restrictions on R-22 back in 2010 by setting limits on production and imports. Since then, the prices of the refrigerant have doubled and tripled forcing consumers to consider new systems.

Though the new systems may be more expensive, they have distinct advantages over the older units.

One advantage of newer systems is efficiency. New systems use less energy as a result of internal components that maximize heat exchange. Since less energy is used, consumers may realize cost savings that exceed the cost of maintaining and operating the old systems.

Another advantage is the use of eco-friendly chemicals. Instead of R-22, newer systems use R-410A. It is a HCFC or hydrochlorofluorocarbon which does not contribute to ozone depletion.

Since the new systems use a different refrigerant, you may wondering if it could be used on the old systems. Unfortunately, the older systems have different components and pressure settings that will not be able to handle the R-410A. It is also not possible to use a newer condenser with an existing air handler since both must use the same refrigerant.

Conclusion

Getting your HVAC unit through the summer may not be as simple as an R-22 recharge fix. The EPA, in an effort to curb ozone depleting chemicals, has restricted supplies of R-22. Consequently, a simple, cheap fix in the past is now more expensive than ever. Instead, replacement with newer systems may save you money in the long run.

 

Need help deciding? Get in touch with our HVAC professionals today to help you decide what’s best for you and your family!

Creative Ways to Enhance Home Energy Efficiency

Posted by Empire Blog at 6:48 pm on March 13, 2014

Atlanta Home Energy Efficiency Tips

atlanta home energy efficiency tipsBy now, you probably know many of big ticket things you can do to enjoy improved home energy efficiency. Upgrading to Energy Star appliances, adding insulation and installing a programmable thermostat are not where energy efficiency should end, but only where they should begin. The number of little things you can do everyday to save energy translates into big savings over the course of a year.

Tips for Conserving Energy

  • Close Windows Near Thermostats

The home energy efficiency of your central heat/air supply is actually impacted more by the temperature immediately around the thermostat than the temperature of the rest of the house. A draft blowing across the thermostat from an open window can cause the heater as well as the air conditioner to cycle on and off unnecessarily.

  • Leave Oven Open After Baking During Winter

Every time you bake something during the winter and then close the door when you turn off the oven, you are wasting precious energy. Why allow all that wonderful warming heat to dissipate behind closed doors when it could be spilling out into the kitchen?

  • Refrigerating Food

Ever put hot food into the refrigerator? Don’t. If at all possible, allow food to cool down to room temperature before you put it away inside the refrigerator. The hotter the food, the more work your refrigerator has to do to cool down. Not just cool down that hot food, but cool down the entire space inside that has now been unnecessarily heated.  Home energy efficiency at its simplest.

  • Ceramic Food Warmers

Do you ever use your oven to keep food warm? You can save energy by using just a fraction of your heating supply to accomplish the same effect. Look for ceramic bread warming tiles that can be heated in either the oven or microwave. These tiles are fantastically efficient conductors of heat that can keep food warm for surprisingly long periods of time without wasting energy. Just make sure you get the right kind of ceramic tile.

  • Match the Pots and Pans to the Burner

Did you realize that every time you put a big pot on the small burners on your range or a small pan on the largest burner that you are wasting energy? Sure, the energy waste is not up there among the worst offenders, but every little bit counts and since you may very well be engaging in this type of energy wasting behavior dozens or hundreds of time a year, it will add up.

  • Clean Your Windows

Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say. Maybe so, maybe not so much, but cleanliness is certainly next to energy savings in the home. The more dirt, dust, grime and grease you allow to collect on your windows, the less heat from the sun penetrates. Perhaps not such a bad thing during the summer, but definitely not conducive to energy savings during the winter.

Atlanta Home Energy Efficiency Experts – Empire Heating and Air Conditioning

To talk more about home energy efficiency or heating and air conditioning, or anything else, please Contact Us. Empire HVAC has been serving the metro Atlanta area since 1985.

Improving Home Energy Efficiency by Avoiding Common Mistakes

Posted by Empire Blog at 9:04 pm on March 6, 2014

Home Energy Efficiency Tips Atlanta GA

home energy efficiencyYou will read a lot of tips about home energy efficiency and you will come across a number of gadgets that promise more efficiency and lower bills. What gets lost amid all the clutter of information out there are the ways that all these wonderful tips can fail to translate into actual savings. Avoiding these mistakes is key to putting home energy efficiency advice and technology to effective use.

Programmable Thermostats

Of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make when looking to upgrade their technology to increase home energy efficiency is replacing an old thermostat with a new programmable thermostat. How can investing in a programmable thermostat be a mistake? By assuming that this technology automatically change the temperature setting to achieve maximum efficiency. That programmable thermostat is going to save you any money or be any more efficient that the old one if you program it yourself. You have a variety of options available for programming temperature settings for maximum efficiency depending on the model you buy. But you have to take an active role for it to do any good.

Hot Water

It’s winter. It’s cold. It’s understandable that you want to hop into a hot shower to get warm. But you may be making a home energy efficiency mistake by assuming that the temperature at which your water heater is set is necessary for getting clothes and dishes clean. A hot water heater thermostat set at 140 degrees could be reset back to 120 degrees without losing its ability to sterilize during cleaning. The water will also still be hot enough to enjoy a shower during the coldest days of winter. Here’s the reason to avoid this home energy efficiency mistake: dialing back the temperature also dials back the percentage of energy and the amount of your power bill that goes to heating up water. That percentage with a water heater temperature set at 140 degrees could easily top 20%.

Insulation

Insulation is great. No doubt about it. When it comes to home energy efficiency mistakes, however, insulation is quite possibly at the top of the list. That’s because homeowners are faced with so many choices. Do you lay down a blanket of fiberglass yourself or spend a little more by hiring a professional to blow in cellulose? Which kind of rigid board insulation works best for your needs? Any insulation is better than no insulation, but you know what’s even better than any insulation? The right insulation. If the cost of heating your home is higher than people you know with a similar house, your biggest mistake could be assuming that you also have similar insulating materials.

Contact Decatur’s Home Energy Efficiency Experts – Empire Heating and Air Conditioning

To learn more about improving energy efficiency in your home during winter, or anything else, please contact us.

Easy Ways to Keep Your Heating System Running Efficiently

Posted by Empire Blog at 1:24 am on February 28, 2014

Heating System Efficiency Decatur GA

heating system efficiency decatur ga

image source: freedigitalphotos.net

To get the best service your heating system, a few simple tasks can help you to keep it running efficiently and avoid unnecessary and costly repair bills.

The average homeowner may only understand how to set the thermostat. When it’s cold outside they turn it up and when it’s hot they turn it down. When that doesn’t work they call the their local heating repair technician. This works OK, but a couple of repair calls a year can start to get expensive. Knowing about the heating system lets you take care of minor problems and keep more of your own money in your pocket.

The heating system is designed to work efficiently with your home’s floor plan. When it is working properly, the ductwork distributes warm or cool air evenly throughout the house. The air passes through filters to clean it of dirt and other contaminants.

Heating System Recommendations

To keep the system running efficiently, Energy Star recommends changing the filter every three months. A dirty filter slows the air flow and wastes energy by making the system work harder. Also make sure that all vents are open and unobstructed so the system can circulate air in the manner for which it was designed.

A clean filter will reduce the buildup of dirt in the system that leads to more expensive maintenance or repairs. Many system problems are caused by dirty blower fans, coils and drains. This obstructs systems, lowers capacity and reduces efficiency.

Sealing air ducts can improve the efficiency of heating systems considerably. The most important places are under the house, and anywhere ducts pass through unheated areas of the house, attic or garage. Ducts in these areas should also be insulated to reduce loss of energy in places you do not want to heat or cool.

Outdoor units need to breath as well. Weeds and grass can grow up and cover them, causing them to clog and overheat. Periodically inspecting these and removing obstructions will help keep them running efficiently.

Most modern heating systems have an electronic control board, located in the thermostat, furnace, or outdoor AC unit. This may occasionally go into a “lockout” mode which prevents the system form operating. Rebooting the system by powering everything off, and waiting a few minutes before turning it all back on will often solve this problem.

Heating System Efficiency Experts – Empire Heating and Air Conditioning

A well maintained heating system will perform efficiently and provide long lasting service for you and your family. Contact Empire Heating and Air Conditioning to learn more about how our planned maintenance program can help to ensure that your system continues to deliver the best performance.

Ways to Improve Home Energy Efficiency

Posted by Empire Blog at 12:36 am on February 14, 2014

Home Energy Efficiency Decatur GA

home energy efficiencyManaging home energy efficiency doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult or, worse of all, both. If you find you need to put all of these ideas into action and you do just that, you just may be able to not only improve your home energy efficiency, but save more as much $100 on your power bill over the course of a year.

Home Energy Efficiency Tips

  • Reduce Electric Dryer Use
    • Even if you own a brand new energy efficient electric clothes dryer, it will still qualify as one of the most voracious power vampires in the house. The older your electric clothes dryer, the more likely it easily tops the list of electrical consumption in your house. If you can find a way to cut back on your electric clothes dryer use by 25%, it should only take a month or two to start noticing the savings on your power bill. You can also make that dryer more energy efficient by not wasting power on loads that are too small as well as avoiding the situation of having to run the appliance through two cycles to dry a load that is too large.
  • Energy Efficient Computer Use
    • Even when not in use, computers that remain plugged in are impacting home energy efficiency by drawing away electricity unnecessarily. Not only should you get into the habit of turning every computer in the house off before you go to bed, but unplug it as well. And then take the time to set every computer to automatically enter sleep mode when left unused for more than 30 minutes. You should also run your laptops and tablets on battery power as often as possible. Not only does this reduce the pull on electricity, but it will actually prolong the life of the battery.
  • Only Run Full Electric Dishwashers
    • Dishwashers are one of the big bad wolves when it comes to chasing down and eating away at home energy efficiency. Like clothes dryers, the less you use your dishwasher, the more money you save. Use dishwasher energy more efficiently by adding unusual items like plastic toys, screens, light switch plates and even baseball caps to light loads.
  • Cut Down on Electric Space Heater Use
    • Believe it or not, but an electrical space heater is actually a drag on home energy efficiency if it is put to constant use. Use electric space heater sparingly. Put on extra layers of clothing and run the space heater just long enough for you to get uncomfortably warm and then turn the heater off.
  • Oven Alternatives
    • The bigger the size of your oven, the greater the impact on home energy efficiency. If it is possible to cook the same food on the stove or using another appliance, try to do so. Frying chicken may not be as healthy as baking it, but it sure is a more energy efficient way of cooking for most people. Use your microwave to warm up leftovers rather than wasting energy and money by heating them in your oven.

Decatur Home Energy Efficiency Experts – Empire Heating and Air Conditioning

To talk more about energy efficiency or any other heating and air conditioning issues, please contact us.  We’ve been proudly serving the Decatur, GA area since 1985.  Read some other energy saving articles online.

Tips to Winter Home Energy Efficiency

Posted by Empire Blog at 8:11 pm on January 2, 2014

Home Energy Efficiency in Atlanta GA

home energy efficiency atlanta ga

image source: freedigitalphotos.net ddpavumba

Proper house insulation will not only help keep everyone warm, but it will also reduce overall home energy efficiency heating costs. You can hire contractors and implement a construction plan to ensure minimal energy expenditure. However, not many homeowners have this luxury. Updating your home will require a couple of tools, but they can easily be implemented, providing warmth, home energy efficiency, and a comfortable home.

Benefits of Proper Home Energy Efficiency

  • Reduce energy bill by 10 to 50%
  • Home safety
  • Protection against frostbite
  • Install a Fireplace Door

Fireplaces are an effective way to warm up a room. However, it is also an escape route for warm air to leave and cold air to enter when it is not being actively used. If you have a modern fireplace, make sure to install an airtight door to make sure that cold air does not come into the house.

Heavier Curtains for Insulation

Heavier curtains will improve home energy efficiency, by allocating the heat to specific rooms. During the winter months it is more appropriate to have thick, lush curtain that’ll provide an insulating layer to your home. Heavy curtains can also be installed to the entryways around your home. A floor length curtain will not only prevent drafts, but can also provide a decorative accent.

Save Money by Turning Down The Thermostat

To save money on your heating bill, you will obviously have to turn down the thermostat. You can save 2% on your energy bill for every degree that you lower the thermostat. However, this does not mean that you will have to live in an icebox. In conjunction with an extra layer of clothing, you can also utilize electrical blankets to heat up the bed. Many of these blankets are also fixed with dual temperature controls, keeping different sides of the bed at different temperatures. These are cost-effective and will help keep heating costs low. Radiant floor heating is also an effective way to warm the house. Even though it will require a bit of manual labor, radiant floor heating systems are unobtrusive.

Contact Empire Heating and Air Conditioning to learn on how to keep your family warm and comfortable this winter season while improving home energy efficiency. You can also shoot us an inquiry info@empirehvac.com.

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