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
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
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.