Home Energy / September 11, 2020
Fact vs Fiction: Home Energy Usage
More and more homeowners are looking for ways to save energy, and money, when it comes to their monthly utility bills. When it comes to home energy use, it’s important to separate myth from reality. We’re breaking down the facts and fiction behind common energy saving strategies, so you can make the most informed decision for your home.
Fiction: Closing vents in empty rooms conserves energy
If there’s a room in your home that doesn’t get much traffic, like a guest bedroom, you may assume that closing the return vents will save you from having to pay for cooling an empty room. However, this is false. Your home cooling and heating system is designed to move a certain amount of air around the rooms in your home. Closing vents reduces the amount of air moved around by the blower, reducing efficiency and making it harder to cool your home.
Closing vents also increases pressure in your air ducts. This extra pressure forces more air out of cracks, leaks, or poorly sealed joints in ductwork. This means more cool air will escape before it reaches your home, wasting energy in the process. The bottom line is, keep all the vents open in your home for the good of your ductwork and for a more efficient system.
Fiction: Setting your thermostat lower will cool your home faster
Let’s say you just got home, and you come back to a warm and stuffy house. The thermostat says it’s at 80 degrees, and you prefer to keep your home around 75. In order to reach this temperature faster, you set the thermostat to 70. While it makes sense in theory, in practice this doesn’t work for single-stage equipment. In fact, instead of cooling your home faster, this will just make your air conditioner work harder and waste energy. Most air conditioners are designed to run at one speed and one speed only. Lowering the temperature just ensures the system will run longer to reach the lower setting. For multi-stage equipment, the higher temperature demand increases the cooling capacity, allowing you to cool the space faster.
If your home is uncomfortably warm and you want to cool down fast, try one of the following tips instead:
- Turn on ceiling fans
- Close blinds and curtains
- Unplug electronics you’re not using
- Turn off unnecessary lights
- Stagger usage of major appliances
- Focus on internal body temperature by staying hydrated
Fiction: Setting your thermostat to “on” is more energy-efficient than “auto”
The answer to this largely depends on your equipment. For single-stage equipment, setting your thermostat to “auto” can use less energy than setting it to “on”. This is because when the fan is running on “auto” mode, it turns on and off according to a signal from the thermostat. Since the fan isn’t always running, less energy is used. On the other hand, when the fan is set to “on”, it will run continuously at the same speed, even between cooling cycles. This uses more of energy. However, the “on” setting is recommended for greater air filtration. While this comes at an increased cost, it is best for air quality and even cooling.
With multi-stage equipment, the fan runs at a low consistent speed, which helps promote air circulation without raising operating costs. For multi-state equipment, the “on” setting has all the benefits of increased air circulation without using more energy or costing you more money.
Fact: Programmable thermostats are energy-friendly
A programmable thermostat allows you to set certain temperatures for different times of day. That way, if you’re not usually home during the day, you can raise the temperature. And when you get home, the temperature will lower automatically. Programmable thermostats save energy by using less cooling power when it’s not needed. The EPA also estimates that homeowners can expect to save around $180 a year by using a programmable thermostat.
Fact: AC maintenance can save energy
With temperatures often soaring above 100 degrees, it’s easy to see why air conditioners go through a lot of wear and tear in Arizona. Without proper maintenance, you’ll likely encounter problems with poor performance and efficiency, leading to higher energy bills. At Larson Air Conditioning, our technicians use a time-tested 24-point checklist to make sure all components of your air conditioner, no matter how small, are inspected and maintained. These include:
- Measuring refrigerant levels
- Performing test-runs of capacitors
- Inspecting wiring, fan blades, circuit boards, and condenser coils
- Tightening loose screws, and replacing missing ones
- Checking thermostats, air filters, and return ducts
- And more
Fact: Leaky air ducts lead to higher bills
Energy Star estimates that 20-30 percent of conditioned air is lost through cracks, leaks and poorly sealed joints in ductwork. That energy loss can add up quickly, causing an increase in utility bills. Since ducts are hidden away in the attic and in the walls, it’s nearly impossible to identify leaks without the help of a professional. But, certain signs can serve as red flags for faulty ducts. They include:
- Uneven cooling
- Increase in dust
- Sudden increase in energy bills
- Noisy air conditioning
Fact: A Larson Home Energy Audit can help lower your utility bills
Home comfort doesn’t just include air conditioning. Many factors go into home comfort and energy performance, including those you may not be aware of. A comprehensive energy audit with our professionals is a great way to identify energy inefficiencies in your home, from prominent issues to ones that would otherwise go unnoticed. The first step is a pre-audit assessment, where we’ll inspect the home for construction deficiencies that could be causing energy loss and heat gain—like unsealed windows or cracks in doors. After the assessment, and with the needs of your home in mind, our team will develop a plan to address problems like:
- Air infiltration & loss
- Inadequate insulation
- Poorly designed ventilation
- Damaged & leaking ductwork
- Hot & cold spots that affect comfort
- Excessive dust in interior air
- Inefficient lighting
- Pest problems
- Allergies & respiratory distress
- High utility bills
- Inefficient appliance operation
From leaking ducts to ventilation issues, we leave no stone unturned in order to identify energy waste and inefficiency in your home. Our home energy audit checklist includes:
- Attic ventilation inspection
- Attic insulation evaluation
- Duct system evaluation
- Indoor air quality check
- Lighting evaluation
- Appliance efficiency check
- Pool pump efficiency check
- Room pressure check
- Air leakage evaluation
- HVAC system analysis
- Water heater check
- Window energy loss evaluation
With the help of our impactful energy solutions, you can save money and enjoy a more eco-conscious home.
Fact: Larson puts your comfort first
With over 30 years of industry experience, Larson is the name to know and trust when it comes to air conditioning, heating, and home performance services. We’re certified by the Arizona Home Performance with Energy Star program, and trusted by families and businesses throughout Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the surrounding areas. Our technicians are experts, not salesmen—so you don’t need to worry about any upsells or dishonest practices. Everything we do, from the first phone call to the final service or installation, is done with the best interests of your home and your comfort in mind.
For all your air conditioning, heating, and home performance needs, call (480) 428-0600 to schedule an appointment today.