Installing ductwork, an A/C unit and a furnace costs an average of over $12,000 in the US. Installing an energy efficient system might cost two to three times as much, but the system will not only last longer, the reduced energy usage will pay for your additional energy costs in about a decade. Consider using these resources as part of your new HVAC system to not only protect the environment, but also to save you money.
Use a WiFi enabled Smart Thermostat
The main push is still to get people to invest in programmable thermostats, and this represents a minimal investment in an energy efficient home. Newer smart thermostats and home automation systems with thermostat functions take things a step further, however.
A programmable thermostat lets you set the temperature based on time of day, which is better than trying to remember to turn the thermostat up during the day when you are home and down at night when you are sleeping. A smart thermostat can both remember your schedule, but also set the temperature based on additional information such as the outdoor temperature or indoor humidity. This allows you to maximize your comfort level while saving even more money.
Use Zone Based Heating and Cooling
Your living room needs to be nice and comfortable so that you can relax and enjoy yourself. Your bedroom needs to be cool to promote good sleep. Your kitchen needs to be comfortable, but requires less heat if you are cooking or baking. A traditional HVAC system does not have the ability to vary the amount of hot or cold air that is pumped into each individual room, which wastes precious energy.
Zone-based HVAC systems require a source fan that can vary its load based on the number of open rooms and a duct system that can be opened and closed as needed. Sensors in the different rooms will tell the thermostat what is going on, and you can control the target temperature of each area individually. The thermostat will then open and close the vents as needed, as well as telling the fan how fast it needs to run to push air through the open system. By reducing the load on your fan, your heater and A/C unit will use less energy and last longer.
Install a Geothermal Heat Pump
Because geothermal heat pumps are so expensive to install, many people shy away from them. What they don't realize is that they could double the efficiency of their HVAC system by installing them. These systems use the fact that below-ground temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year. Liquid is pumped through pipes in the ground, matching its temperature with the ambient underground temperature. From there, it is used to cool air in the Summer or run through a condenser to heat the air in the Winter. Outdoor heat pumps work exactly the same way, but the variable outdoor temperatures kill their efficiency ratings.
There are several different types of geothermal heat pump systems, and you will need to have an expert evaluate your property to find out what type is best for you. Some areas have underground hot spots that can be tapped for extra energy, and others have an underground water source which can be pumped through the pipes instead of a closed-loop system with antifreeze. In addition, the expert will take into consideration the size of your home, since the system will need to be big enough to heat and cool the space without gradually warming or cooling the surrounding ground. While a properly built pipe system will last around 50 years, it will gradually lose its efficiency if it is too small.
It is possible that this combination of tools will no longer be the most efficient choice sometime in the future. It may also be that some quirk in your property or the surrounding area will make other options a better choice. However, for most homeowners, this combination of systems should keep their home comfortable with minimal energy usage.
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