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Heat & Cool Smartly


The following information came from the EPA’s Energy Star web site:

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac

Save Energy, Save Money
Replacing old cooling and heating equipment with more efficient, ENERGY STAR qualified equipment is one way to save energy and money. However, your home's heating and cooling equipment is part of a larger system. Heating and cooling your home smartly can include properly maintaining your existing equipment, using a programmable thermostat, finding and sealing air leaks, tightening up your ducts, and more.

Repair or Replace?
Changing out old cooling and heating equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified models can cut your annual energy costs by 20 percent. Remember that getting the proper size and a quality installation is essential to getting the most from your new equipment. Learn more about each cooling and heating product from links in the left column.

Finding the right contractor: 10 tips

10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor

1. Study up - Find out about license and insurance requirements for contractors in your state. And before you call a contractor, know the model of your current system and its maintenance history. Also make note of any uncomfortable rooms. This will help potential contractors better understand your heating needs.

2. Ask for referrals - Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for contractor referrals. You can also contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area.

3. Call references - Ask contractors for customer references and call them. Ask about the contractor's installation or service performance, and if the job was completed on time and within budget.

4. Find special offers - A heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you'll make as a homeowner. Keep your costs down by checking around for available rebates on energy-efficient ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment. Begin your search at www.energystar.gov.

5. Look for ENERGY STAR - ENERGY STAR qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings. Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.

6. Expect a home evaluation - The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn't always better; a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house, level of insulation, and windows. A good contractor will inspect your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and measure airflow to make sure it meets manufacturers specifications.

7. Get written, itemized estimates - When comparing contractors' proposals (bids), be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties. A lowest price may not be the best deal if it's not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher.

8. Get it in ink - Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started. It'll protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.

9. Pass it on - Tell friends and family about ENERGY STAR. Almost one-quarter of households knowingly purchased at least one qualified product last year, and 71% of those consumers say they would recommend ENERGY STAR to a friend. Spread the word, and we can all make a big difference.

10. Get the ENERGY STAR Guide - For complete information on keeping your home comfortable year-round, get the ENERGY STAR Guide to Energy Efficient Cooling and Heating (708 KB) en espanol -- Guía para la Eficiencia de Energía en la Calefacción y el Aire Acondicionado (2.5MB) or 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).

Maintain your Equipment: A Checklist
Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.

Use a Programmable Thermostat
Use an ENERGY STAR qualified model to adjust the temperature of your home when you are home or away. With proper use of the four pre-programmed temperature settings, you can save about $100 each year in energy costs.

Duct Sealing
It's common to find gaps between duct joints, whether a home is new or old. Seal and insulate ducts that are exposed in areas such as your attic or crawlspace to improve your system's efficiency and your own comfort.

Seal Air Leaks and Add Insulation (Home Sealing)
Air leaks in your home and a poorly insulated attic can lead to significant home comfort problems and high energy bills. By properly sealing those air leaks and adding insulation, you can improve comfort and cut your energy bills by up to 10 percent.

Consider a More Efficient Ceiling Fan
Upgrade to a more energy-efficient ceiling fan. ENERGY STAR qualified models are up to 50% more energy-efficient than conventional fans, with the most potential energy savings coming from those that include lighting. In the winter, set your fan to turn in the clockwise direction to help efficiently distribute warm air throughout your room.

Help Protect the Environment
Individual actions at home can add up to a lot of pollution prevention. If just one in ten households bought ENERGY STAR heating and cooling products, the change would keep over 17 billion pounds of pollution out of the air.



 
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