Heating and Cooling Strategies


There’s more to heating and cooling than a boiling furnace and a frigid AC unit. An expensive heating unit can lose its effectiveness and overspend on energy in a home with inefficient insulation and ductwork. Whether you’re upgrading to a high efficiency furnace or installing a new central AC unit, the key to saving energy is to combine energy efficient equipment with efficient home infrastructure.

Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS)

HEMS automate heating, cooling and light settings to match the homeowner’s schedule. Newer systems are able to control virtually all energy-consuming equipment in your home while identifying opportunities to save energy wherever possible.

HEMS include a number of ways to control your appliances. These include touch screens, programmable thermostats, electronic remotes, smart appliances with buttons and dials, smart plugs and more. These components work together with your home smart meter to optimize energy consumption.

Energy Savings and Environmental Impact

HEMS can drastically improve a home’s energy consumption while reducing its carbon footprint. Non-networked HEMS with no visual displays save an estimated 5 percent on energy use. Adding visual displays as constant reminders brings estimated savings to 10 percent. On top of that, Networked systems allow for exchanged information from smart meters and the utility company. Homeowners with networked HEMS have more control over their rate cost structure and save an estimated 20 percent on energy consumption.

Consider Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Geothermal heating and cooling is an environmentally friendly approach to energy efficient temperature control. After an initial investment, you’ll be using the Earth itself—for free—to cool your home during the summer and warm it during the winter. These systems use around 30 percent less energy than a standard heat pump! While the temperature may range from extremely hot in the summer to freezing cold in the winter, the temperature of the ground stays relatively constant. Geothermal heating uses the ground’s consistent temperature to save money and energy every year.

A geothermal heat pump uses naturally heated water to warm up your home during the winter. Refrigerant extracts warmth into the “evaporator coil” where the heated vapor can enter the duct system. Meanwhile, the circulating water is pumped back outside to circulate through the ground where it is warmed once again.

In the summer, the process is reversed: refrigerant extracts heat out of the air inside your home and deposits that heat into the water. The warmed water is then pumped outdoors where it cools underground and then recycles.

Geothermal systems have a large up-front investment and involve a lot of digging, so it usually makes sense to install one when doing a major remodel. Moreover, the quality of the ground under your home can make a big difference in how effective a geothermal system will be. Typically, 70 percent of the energy used by a geothermal heat pump comes from renewable energy stored within the ground, which is how you end up lowering your utility bills by 30 to 40 percent. 

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