Green HVAC Technology for Your Home

Skeptical about green HVAC technology? Believe that it's too expensive? There are definitely some high dollar, high performance energy efficient systems out there. However, it is also possible to invest your dollars wisely in smarter appliances that perform and save.

Obviously, there is a lot of marketing out there telling you this or that or the other thing is best. It can be hard to separate the quality from the background noise. How can you tell what product or accessory will save you the most? What do you need to prioritize? Here are our recommendations for reliably performing, guilt-free, Mother Earth approved green HVAC.

Air Conditioner Size

In this case, size does matter when it comes to your AC unit. Too small of a unit and your cooling system won't have enough power to adequately cool your space (and prevent you from sticking to the furniture). It also adds extra wear and tear on the unit and burns through more electricity than necessary. Too big of a unit will run air cycles which aren’t long enough to pull extra humidity out of the air or create consistent and comfortable temperatures. This is called short-cycling.

The cooling abilities of air conditioners are measured with BTUs which is an acronym for British Thermal Unit. BTUs measure the quantity of heat a conditioning unit can remove from a room per hour. And there is a balance between the BTUs of a unit and the square footage of a room it will be cooling. Ask your HVAC professional how to correctly identify the right size. Finding one that correctly fits this size of your home is important, it will have the longest life and save you the most money on your utility bills.

But what does that have to do with green HVAC? Well, a properly sized HVAC unit works more efficiently. The more efficient, the less energy it uses. Plus, the right size makes your home feel better.

Energy Star Certified

Is your goal real green HVAC comfort at home? Then scoring an Energy Star Certified system should be at the top of your list. Typically, a home's HVAC system consumes the majority of the household electricity. A super-efficient system isn't only responsible, it's a smart choice to lock in savings for years. Plus, Energy Star appliances often qualify for tax credits and rebates that "cheaper" systems don't.

Fortunately, Energy Star Certified green HVAC products are fairly easy to find. The manufacturers usually put that kind of marketing right into your face. But, if you're ever wondering where a particular product meets Energy Star criteria, just use the EPA's Energy Star Product Finder site. That way you can be sure.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are a really cost effective way to reduce your energy consumption. Some brands tout utility savings of up to 23% a year. Calculate a decade of your past energy bills, and 23% a year can turn into a really big number.

Some of the more sophisticated smart thermostats are able to learn your habits. They automatically adjust the temperature in your home as you come and go. Plus, thermostat control via your smartphone makes it trivially easy to modify settings while you’re not home, at work, at the gym, or anywhere that you can get a signal. Which in this day age is pretty much everywhere.

HVAC Zoning

A zoned system creates multiple heating and cooling zones in a building interior. Each zones has its own separate controls, conditioned air supply, ventilation, etc. Not only does this mean that each zone is adequately cooled and heated, but it also means that unused portions of a building can be set below the typical 'comfort standard'. This can save a lot of energy.

But what does that look like in practice?

For example, let's say you have a two story home with a basement. A zoned system is installed. That home is then broken into a single zone for the basement, a single zone for the main floor, and a single zone for the upstairs. Except the kids just left for college, and you don't go upstairs very much. Simply adjust the upstairs zone to what you would otherwise consider an uncomfortable temperature. Your HVAC system doesn't have to work as hard, but you don't sacrifice comfort in the other areas of the house where you spend your time.

Properly installed, zoning can be a clever way to get terrifically green HVAC air comfort.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Let's talk about really green HVAC tech.

Geothermal technology has been around for more than 50 years. In the last decade, this green HVAC tech has seen a rise in usage because of ultra eco-friendly features. Also, the energy savings. A geothermal heat pump can slash utility bills up to 65% annually (or more). That's not to mention the fact that ground-source units qualify for the best renewable energy rebates available. In this case, that is a federal tax credit equal to more than 20% of the purchase and install price.

Considered a long term investment by HVAC professionals, the life span for a geothermal loop network is 50 years or more. Expect to see more systems with such eco-friendly options in the future, since they lower peak electricity usage and greatly reduce the carbon footprint of the building's air comfort system.

To be fair, if you've been looking for the "ultra-expensive" green HVAC option, geothermal heat pumps are it. Yes, they are amazingly energy efficient. They have to be, because installation costs can pile up into the tens of thousands of dollars. That is all defrayed by the savings over time and the generous federal and local incentives. However, not all homeowners can afford to absorb the high costs of a geothermal install no matter how much they might want to do so. Still, if you can swing geothermal, there is simply no better way to get green HVAC and save a ton of money on your bills.

Want to Know More About Green HVAC?

Let us know in the comments below about the green HVAC systems you would like to see us discuss.

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