Posts Tagged ‘Energy Star’

Last month we told you some things to look for that would indicate that your HVAC system needs attention from a specialist. However, a quick fix isn’t always the answer – sometimes the best action is to replace your system entirely. Replacing your system can seem like a large cost upfront, but a new, more efficient system will save you more money over time by reducing your energy bill and minimizing the need for maintenance and repair. Energy Star offers a check-list of signs that indicate that a system needs to be replaced.

The age of your system is a solid indicator of when it will need to be replaced.  Talk to a professional about replacing your system if

  • Your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old.
  • Your air conditioner or heat pump is more than 10 years old.

Some signs that you system needs to be replaced are obvious and easy to spot, and occur from daily use, such as:

  • Uneven temperature throughout the home; some rooms are too hot while others are too cold.
  • Your cooling or heating system is excessively noisy.
  • Your energy bills start to increase suddenly.
  • Your equipment needs frequent repairs.

You can also spot a system that’s on its way out by some factors that may seem less obvious:

  • Your home is exceptionally dusty, which could be caused by leaky ducts.
  • Your home has problems with keeping a consistent humidity; faulty equipment and leaky duct work can cause air to be too humid in the summer or too dry in the winter.

Let us know if you have noticed any of these signs in your home or if you any questions about upgrading or replacing your system. You can also reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter.

At Casteel Heating and Cooling we are all about going green and helping the environment! Clean air and energy efficient products are important to us. That is why we offer Energy Star products! If you’re like us, then you want your home to to achieve a high level of energy-efficiency. In order to achieve an Energy Star efficient home standard you must improve the following:

There are also four steps you should take when building a new home to ensure your home will meet the Energy Star guidelines. These steps are recommended by ENERGY STAR.

Step One: Find a Builder Who Partners with Energy Star
This way you know the builder is meeting the requirements of Energy Star guidelines.

Step Two: Builder Works with the Rater to Select Appropriate Energy–Efficient Home Features
This builder will help you choose the best combination of energy-efficient features so you know that when you are constructing your home you are meeting the Energy Star requirements.

Step Three: Verifying Performance
Make sure your contractor is testing the products as they are installing them. This will ensure that everything is working properly and efficiently.

Step Four: Energy Star Label
After completion, make sure you receive an Energy Star label. It will be placed on the circit box breaker of the home. This will provide you with documentation stating that your home is in fact Energy Star qualified.

If you are a homeowner who wants to go green consider following these guidelines. Remember, the less energy we use in our home, the less air pollution we generate. So go green and help save the environment!

Buying a heating and air conditioning system is a hefty investment. We know you want the best quality products as well as the highest quality service. Letting a contractor into your home isn’t a decision to be taken lightly for you and your wallet. We want to make selecting an HVAC professional easy for you. We recommend you fist check the company’s reviews online at Kudzu, then consider the points below recommended by Energy Star.

  • 1. Do Your Research- Research what the license and insurance requirements for HVAC contractors in your state are. You don’t want someone who doesnt meet the requirements! Also, it would be good for you to know what model your current HVAC system is and it’s maintenance history. This way your contactor will be able to better understand your needs.
  • 2. References- Ask the contractor for customer references and simply call and ask them! Make sure you ask the previous customer about the the service or instillation performance and if the contractor stayed on budget and within a timely manner. Customers don’t lie!
  • 3. Referrals- See who your neighbors are using, ask around for some referrals.
  • 4. Special Offers- Like we said, a heating and cooling system is a hefty investment for any homeowner. Ask the contractors if they have any specials or rebates on products.
  • 5. Home Evaluation- Expect a home evaluation. Your HVAC contractor should spend a good deal of time inspecting your home and current system to get a better idea of your needs. If they don’t take the time to inspect your level of insulation, windows and even duct systems they are not doing their job. A good contractor will size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house and other factors.
  • 6. Get a Signature- Make sure you sign a written proposal with a contractor before they get started. This will protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.
  • When you decide to select and HVAC contractor make sure you review the points listed above. You deserve the highest quality in service and products. At Casteel Heating and Cooling we pride ourselves on providing world class service, offering high quality products at affordable prices and backing our work up with exceptional warranties. Good luck on your search!

    Looking to buy a new air conditioner? Well before you make a big purchase make sure it has an ARI reference number! An ARI reference number guarantees your new air conditioner will have Energy Star efficiency, the proper SEER rating and the right amount cooling. What is an ARI reference number you ask? Well to break it down, every air conditioner is divided into two main parts: the condensing unit and the evaporator. These two components must be evenly matched in order for your system to work properly. Each match has its own unique ARI reference number, get it? So the ARI reference number is a MUST HAVE!

        FYI: ARI stands for Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. They are an internationally recognized leader in developing HVAC standards.

    So how do you check your ARI reference number? Just ask! Your HVAC professional is supposed to show you three things:

      The model number of the condenser
      The model number of the evaporator
      The ARI reference number

    These should all appear on your invoice. Make sure all the numbers on the invoice match the number to your models. Good luck with purchasing your new air conditioner!

    If you live in a moderate climate, heat pumps are a great energy efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. Heat pumps use electricity to move the heat from a cool space into a warm one. This process keeps the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. The most common heat pump is an air-source heat pump. This heat pump moves heat, rather than generating heat which can provide up to four times the amount of energy they consume.

    According to the U.S Department of Energy a heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating by as much as 30%-40%. These savings can significantly lower your utility bills. Another great aspect of a heat pump is that it also acts a dehumidifier and works better than most standard central air conditioners. You can add on advanced air filtration to your heat pump system. This removes more dust, pollen and other irritants from your conditioned air allowing you to breath easy. Also, the fans in the heat pump adjust quietly, allowing you maximum comfort in your home.

    If you are considering a heat pump as an energy efficient alternative first consider the climate you live in. If temperatures drop too low, your heat pump will have a difficult time keeping the temperature in your home up. Otherwise, we highly recommend this energy efficient alternative for your home.

    During the winter we obviously use our heaters more often but there are ways to keep our heating costs down. We found a great article from DIYlife.com to help you with this.

    Mistake #1: Ignoring Drafts
    That cool air you feel seeping in is a blatant sign that your home is losing heat. Stop ignoring drafts! Check for cracks around doors, windows, foundations, fireplaces, and other areas. Use caulk, weather stripping, door sweeps, or plastic to close off leaks and keep the warm air inside your home.

    Mistake #2: Leaving a Ventilation Fan Running
    During the winter, don’t let the bathroom fan or kitchen hood fan run for longer than necessary. Ventilation fans can suck all the heated air right out of your home. But, don’t avoid using ventilation fans. Mold and mildew are always looking for a warm moist place to hide.

    Mistake #3: Taking the Furnace for Granted
    Maintain your heating equipment throughout the year. Regularly check and clean the filters in your furnace every 3 months. Dirty air filters can reduce the air flow in your system and make your furnace work harder.

    Mistake #4: Raising the Thermostat Too High
    If your furnace is struggling to reach a desired temperature, don’t turn the thermostat higher than the desired temperature. You’ll just make your furnace work even harder. Instead, look for the problem and try to fix it. Or if you’re heater is just not strong enough, take note, and adjust accordingly.

    Mistake #5: Heating an Empty House
    Take advantage of a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature of your home while you’re away. It’s important to program the thermostat to reflect your family’s schedule to get the most out of it And it can save you up to $180 a year in energy costs, according to Energy Star.

    Mistake #6: Going to Extremes
    Turning down the temperature at night seems like a good idea to save money on the heating bill. But if you turn the air back too far at night, it can cost you when you raise the temperature on the thermostat in the morning. Avoid extremes as the contents of your home will need to be heated as well as the air and that can take time.

    Mistake #7: Washing Everything in Hot Water
    Whenever your fabrics can tolerate it, turn the dial on your washer to cold. Washing clothes in cold water saves the cost of heating that water.

    Mistake #8: Keeping the Curtains Drawn (or Keeping Them Not Drawn)
    Opening window treatments when the sun is shining and close the curtains when the sun isn’t. This will give your home a heating boost from the sun and keep the heat in during the dark night. Also, pay attention to opening the curtains and shades on the side of your home where the sun strikes the windows.

    Mistake #9: Keeping Windows Unlocked
    It might sound too simple to believe, but locking your windows creates an airtight seal that keeps out air leaks and drafts.

    Mistake #10: Going It Alone
    Energy audits by a professional are the best way to know about your home’s energy use. You can take advantage of Energy Star’s free online tools by entering information about how you heat your home. The Home Energy Advisor provides energy-saving home improvement recommendations for homes where you live. The Home Energy Yardstick compares your home’s energy use to similar homes in your area.

    Does it look like you need a “Wintervention?” Let Casteel Heating and Cooling be YOUR professional. We can perform a Home Energy Audit for you and make recommendations for any issues we may find. Start saving today and give us a call at 770-565-5884.

    Article cited: http://www.diylife.com/2011/01/03/heating-mistakes-solved-10-energy-saving-tips/

    Bob Casteel and Casteel Heating and Cooling not only leads the nation in Amana Ultra High-Efficiency HVAC units but they are also a green business leader in Cobb County. According to “Cobb In Focus” magazine, “the company’s current initiatives now include collecting and safely disposing of environmentally detrimental air conditioning refrigerant and promoting greener alternatives; providing customers with a range of total-home energy reduction solutions, including endorsing Energy Star programs; participating in reforestation efforts with the Georgia Forestry Commission; and recycling all metals and plastics used by the company as well as using recycled office products.”

    Sealing and insulating the “envelope” or “shell” of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors — is often the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating.

    To Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR:

    • Seal air leaks throughout the home to stop drafts,
    • Add insulation to block heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer,
    • Choose ENERGY STAR qualified windows when replacing windows.

    If your attic is accessible and you like home improvement projects, you can Do-It-Yourself with help from our DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR. The Guide offers step-by-step instructions for sealing common air leaks and adding insulation to the attic.

    You can also hire a contractor who will use special diagnostic tools to pinpoint and seal the hidden air leaks in your home. A Home Energy Rater can help you find contractors that offer air sealing services in your area.

    Sealing Leaks

    Many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel — like those around windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills. Click on the house diagram to see common air leak locations that you should aim to seal.

    Homeowners are often concerned about sealing their house too tightly; however, this is very unlikely in most older homes. A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality and there are specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air needed for a house. If you are concerned about how tight your home is, hire a contractor, such as a Home Energy Rater, who can use diagnostic tools to measure your home’s actual leakage. If your home is too tight, a fresh air ventilation system may be recommended.

    After any home sealing project, have a heating and cooling technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. For additional information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues related to homes, such as combustion safety, visit EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Web site.

    Adding Insulation

    Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are several common types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product which can help save energy in hot, sunny climates.

    When correctly installed with air sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.

    Insulation performance is measured by R-value — its ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country. Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. So it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance from the insulation.

    To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type). In the coldest climates, insulating up to R-49 is recommended.

    Sealing Ducts

    In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.

    Because some ducts are concealed in walls and between floors, repairing them can be difficult. However, exposed ducts in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and garages can be repaired by sealing the leaks with duct sealant (also called duct mastic). In addition, insulating ducts that run through spaces that get hot in summer or cold in winter (like attics, garages, or crawlspaces) can save significant energy.

    Additionally, if you are replacing your forced-air heating and cooling equipment, make sure your contractor installs the new system according to ENERGY STAR quality installation guidelines. A quality installation will include a thorough inspection of your duct system, including proper sealing and balancing of ductwork, to help ensure that your new system delivers the most comfort and efficiency.

    Learn more about improving your ducts.