September 2006
Reduce Energy Bills,
Improve Home's Efficiency

It's common to have an uncomfortable room in your home that's. Maybe a room stays warmer than the rest of your home in the summer and cooler in the winter.

You may be wondering if it's an issue with your heating and cooling system. Should you replace your unit? Should you upgrade to a bigger unit? These aren't always the best solutions.

First, consider where your heating and cooling unit and the thermostat are located. If the unit isn't in a central location, it probably has to work harder to push the heated/cooled air to the other side of the house. If your home has vaulted ceilings, your unit may work even harder to evenly distribute the heated/cooled air.

Walton EMC's Energy Audit Specialist Rigs Santos has seen it all. He says to look for four common problems in a heating and cooling system.

1 – Dirty Filter
It's easy to neglect your unit as long as it puts out warm or cool air. But to help your unit perform more efficiently, routinely replace the air filter. At least once a month, clean or replace the air filter, depending on the type of filters you buy.

After replacing the filter, tape over the cover if the filter is in the unit to prevent extreme temperatures from crossing the foil.

2 – Duct Leakage
Duct leakage can decrease your home's efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Ducts in the attic or crawlspace should be insulated with R-6 duct insulation. If the ducts aren't accessible, hire a licensed heating and air contractor to insulate them for you.

Check the joints in the ductwork and seal with mastic if needed. Make sure all the ducts are properly connected. If any have separated, reconnect them and seal.

Feel around the supply and return ducts for leaks while your fan is running. If you find a leak, apply UL181 tape and then seal over it with mastic. (Both products can be found at any home improvement store).

3 – Adjust the Dampers
The ducts in your home may or may not have dampers. A damper is a metal louver located inside the duct. Dampers help keep your duct system balanced and should only be adjusted by a qualified heating and air contractor to more evenly heat or cool each room in your home.

4 – Check the Temperature

The difference in temperature between your supply and return is important. Santos recommends a -T, or change in temperature, of 15 to 20 degrees for air conditioning units. To determine the -T for your unit, record the temperature of the air moving through the supply duct and the return duct. Now subtract these numbers to get the -T.

If it's 12 or below, have a heating and air contractor check the Freon in the unit. In some cases, the contractor adds Freon to increase the temperature difference.

A few simple changes to your unit and its duct system will improve your home's efficiency. With just four simple steps, you may also see a decrease in your energy bill.