Strapped for Cash? HVAC Solutions Keep Costs Low and Comfort High

(ARA) – You may find the economic climate less than balmy right now, but that doesn’t mean the climate inside your home can’t be comfortable.

Like many Americans, you’re probably thinking about ways you can reduce your living expenses. Heating and cooling costs account for more than 40 percent of the average home’s energy bill, so finding ways to become more energy efficient can save you real cash. In fact, nearly two thirds of respondents in a recent Energy Awareness Month survey cited reducing their heating and cooling bills as a top concern.

There are many ways to improve the performance of your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, even if you’re on a tight budget. Here are a few:

Tip 1. Take advantage of tax credits by replacing old appliances with ENERGY STAR Qualified appliances.

One of the best ways to improve home energy efficiency is by replacing your outdated air conditioner or furnace, especially if it’s more than 10 to 15 years old. Newer, more energy- efficient models that are ENERGY STAR qualified are readily available and can be up to 40 percent more efficient. What’s more, tax credits will be issued to homeowners who install ENERGY STAR qualified appliances in 2009, offering a dual cost-saving benefit for you and your budget. The more efficient your air conditioner is, the more money you can save annually.

When looking for efficient appliances, consider a model such as the Trane XL20i communicating air conditioner. Traditional systems usually deliver a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of around 8. With a system like the XL20i, which has a SEER rating of 20, your family could save up to 60 percent on your annual energy bill, depending on the type of equipment the high-efficiency system is replacing. Of course, your actual energy savings will also vary depending on factors like your lifestyle, system settings, maintenance, climate and installation.

In fall and winter, consider upgrading with an XC95 furnace. With this product’s three stages of heat, you can achieve an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating of up to 95 percent, which means that up to 95 cents of every dollar actually goes to heating your home.

This is especially important when you consider that the average household will pay $2,300 this year on energy costs, with heating alone accounting for almost 45 percent of that total, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

Tip 2. Consider automated technology so you can have peace of mind that you are taking control of your own energy management.

Incorrect air flow and improper refrigerant levels within a heating and cooling system are two of the biggest issues affecting home energy efficiency. So when shopping for new appliances, consider those that will eliminate these common errors with automated systems to monitor those levels for you.

Manufacturers such as Trane are making this possible with heating and cooling systems that come complete with communicating technology. Built-in interfaces enable all communicating components of a heating and cooling system to be automatically and properly charged, configured and calibrated to ensure homeowners will always receive the ultimate in reliability, efficiency, comfort, convenience and peace of mind.

Tip 3. Adjusting room temperature by just a few degrees will help yield big savings in your household budget this year.

You can save about 3 percent of your heating and cooling costs for every degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, and for every degree you raise your thermostat in the summer.

Programmable thermostats are another great option to maximize the performance of your heating and cooling system. Because you can program these thermostats to raise or lower the temperature while you’re away from home, you save energy while still maintaining your standard of comfort. In addition to this flexibility, ENERGY STAR models can also yield savings as high as $115 per year.

If your heating and cooling equipment is less than 15 years old, routine maintenance is an easy yet important step you can take to ensure efficient heating and cooling performance. Having a professional perform maintenance in the spring and fall, before cooling and heating seasons begin, will increase the life of the system, improve energy efficiency, reduce pollutants and save you money.

Be sure you also contribute to your system’s continued efficiency by cleaning or replacing filters on schedule, and by keeping outdoor units clear of snow, ice and other debris.

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Courtesy of ARAcontent

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