Relative Costs of Home Heating with Gas vs. Electricity

Other than using wood, geothermal, district, or no heating — chances are you’re going to use either gas or electricity. Each method has their own unit costs and equipment costs, as well as general efficiency.

In order to give an idea of the operating costs of these methods per year, we’ll assume an average suburban home, in a continental climate, with normal levels and ratings for insulation. This will help us to narrow down the range of answers and hopefully give you a better idea of what to expect for each method. We will also be calculating costs using mid-range efficiencies for the heating equipment with an energy need of 60,000,000 BTU per year of heating energy for the home.

Heating Costs of Gas & Electricity

Gas – $1.10/100,000 BTU

This equates to $735 per year for a furnace with a 90% efficiency rating. Most gas furnaces will achieve higher ratings than this but at a minimum they’ll be operating at 90% for a modern unit.

Electricity – $2.93/100,000 BTU

Electricity is going to give us a pretty blurry yearly heating cost of $703 – $1,875 per year. The reason for this is that the two main methods of electric heating – resistance heating and heat pumps – have huge differences in efficiencies. Electric resistance heating, the same technology in your blow dryer, has a relatively paltry efficiency rating of 100%. That might sound good but given the high unit cost of electricity and how it stacks up to the 150-300% efficiency ratings of heat pumps, it’s really not. Heat pumps are much more efficient and wallet-friendly because they don’t actually generate heat but rather move it from one place to another.

Hopefully this will give you a better idea of what to expect to pay per year for the three main heating methods. For more informative posts, follow the McClay A/C, Heating & Plumbing blog.

5 Energy Saving Tips for Your Commercial Building

If you’re looking for ways to cut costs, it’s a good idea to spend some time investigating the energy consumption in your building. According US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average building wastes about 30 percent of the energy it uses. With such a high figure, it’s wise to take simple steps to decrease the energy usage in your commercial building.


1. Audit Energy Usage and Invest in Upgrades

In order to reduce your energy usage, it’s important to get a complete measurement of how much energy is being used and why. Audit your utility bills for the past year to see what you’re spending, and check the condition of all HVAC, plumbing and lighting equipment. Collect any paperwork detailing service, maintenance and repairs. If you have equipment that is in poor condition, consider getting a newer model, which will help cut down on energy costs.


2. Invest in Program Controls and Operational Timing

If you manually shut off your heating and cooling each night, there’s a good chance that you’re forgetting at least some of the time. In order to avoid the hassle of shutting off your equipment and the possibility of leaving it running all night, purchase programmable thermostats or automation systems. These systems can automatically turn down heat and air conditioning at specific times, as well as shut off lights.


3. Education

Educate your employees and tenants about ways they can reduce energy inside the building. Conduct training sessions and provide handouts with tips and strategies, such as reporting leaks and shutting off computers at the end of the day. You can also provide incentives that will reward those who implement energy saving measures.


4. Improve Your Insulation

Add insulation around your pipes, electrical outlets and HVAC ducting. This insulation will reduce how much air conditioning and heating your building loses in a way that doesn’t negatively impact your building’s comfort level. Ductwork that hasn’t been recently cleaned or inspected can compromise the insulation. This creates holes and tears where cold and warm air can escape from the air conditioner and furnace, resulting in wasted energy.


5. Maintain Your Equipment

Your cooling equipment, chillers and boilers should all be consistently maintained in order to work efficiently. When this equipment isn’t properly maintained, the following issues can occur:

Dust and debris can build up on the air conditioner’s coils, which compromises the heat transfer and causes the unit to cool the air less effectively.

Steam boilers can have malfunctioning steam traps that are constantly releasing steam. This causes your boiler to work overtime and will increase your utility bills.

If your air filters aren’t changed regularly, dust and contaminants can settle in the system, which decreases airflow. The system then has to work harder and run for a longer period of time.

By following these simple steps, you can reduce the energy bill for your commercial building.

Follow us for more tips and insights about heating, cooling and more.

What Is Whole Home Performance?

whole home performance energy audits help produce home energy savingsIf you have been searching for a way to decrease your energy bills and have a positive impact on the environment, then Whole Home Performance is for you. Improving the energy efficiency in your home helps to decrease harmful greenhouse gas emissions and also reduces the nation’s dependence on expensive energy imports. In addition, HVAC efficiency upgrades and other upgrades help support job creation in America.

What is Whole Home Performance?

Whole Home Performance is a specific evaluation for your home that helps to find and repair the causes of domestic energy waste. This will help you to reduce the amount of your monthly energy bills, as well as increase the comfort of your home for you, your family, your guests, and your pets. It can also increase the value of your home.

A Whole Home Performance technician will come to your home to help determine where your home is wasting energy. These contractors are trained to not only find the issues, but to help repair them as well. They are trained to perform a full range of home improvements to help your home use less energy, such as installing insulation, upgrades to the furnace and air conditioner, and energy-efficient lighting and appliances.

What does Whole Home Performance Cost?

The cost of the evaluation, repairs, and upgrades can vary depending on the age and condition of your home and what upgrades or repairs are needed. You can tailor what you have done to your own budget. However, there are rebates available and this is an investment into the value of your home. Many customers see their investments back within a year or two of completion based on decreased energy bills. Considering that most homes in America waste about 20 to 40 percent of the energy consumed, and that this waste equates to wasted dollars as well, the savings from a Home Performance eval and action plan can be significant.

A contractor can explain more about this evaluation and what your options are for financing and rebates. Call a HVAC Whole Home Performance contractor to get started saving money and energy today.

Lower A/C Use For Energy Efficiency By Using Ceiling Fans

According to the U. S. Energy Department, central air conditioning utilizes at least 15 percent (and often much more) of a house’s total energy consumption. Homeowners know this because they are aware of the significant rise in amount of their power bills each summer. There are ways to use your home’s air conditioning more efficiently and effectively that result in noticeable savings on Home Energy Costs. You can implement these ideas as the cornerstone of developing a Summer Energy Savings Plan.

Air conditioning is not the only home system that can cool your home’s interior. Ceiling fans effectively circulate air in rooms to create cooling drafts that work to trigger evaporation from your skin which can cool you by three to five degrees. In temperate climates, many homeowners are fortunate to be able to cool their homes all summer with only the use of ceiling fans.

Why is this helpful to energy savings plans? According to a report in the New York Times, central air conditioning uses 3 kilowatts an hour to cool your home at an hourly cost to you of 36¢. In contrast, one ceiling fan uses only 30 watts of power per hour and costs you only a penny. You can cool a seven room home for seven cents an hour. The A/C money saving is enormous.

Homeowners in regions that experience hot summers can experience energy savings by using ceiling fans in partnership with air conditioning. Because a ceiling fan cools you another three to five degrees, it allows you to set your A/C thermostat’s temperature up several degrees and still experience the level of cooling comfort you prefer. Your air conditioner does not have to run as much with the ceiling fans doing some of the cooling work.

If you do not have ceiling fans, it is worth the expense to install them. Once installed, be sure the fan is set to rotate in a counter-clockwise direction in the summertime. If your A/C unit is ten years old or older, consider the benefits to your utility bill of a high efficiency air conditioning system. Check on the Internet for the dozens of ideas and tips on summer energy savings and you will be off to a good start with developing your energy saving plan.

Tips For A Home Energy Savings Plan For The Summer

Electricity bills for most homeowners each summer increase dramatically because of the energy costs to run air conditioners. A/C units and the heat from and energy use by other appliances in the home are the major contributors to high energy costs. To realize significant energy savings, homeowners should put together a Summer Energy Savings Plan that uses energy in your home effectively and efficiently.

There are dozens of different actions you can take to make your home more energy efficient and/or to use the appliances or systems in your home more effectively. Some of these do not cost a thing to implement. Some are inexpensive items. Other have a significant cost but a large enough return on investment to make the cost worthwhile. These include:

• Investing in a high efficiency ENERGY STAR® certified Air Conditioning system. While expensive, the energy cost savings will repay you for your investment in three to five years. The new A/C also adds to the resale value of your home.
• Investing in any new ENERGY STAR or energy efficient home appliance.
• Re-roofing your home with reflective shingles.
• Installing awnings on windows to keep sun and heat out of the house.
• Installing new double pane windows.
Besides adding to the resale and appraised value of your home now, the cost of these improvements will be repaid within five years from the energy cost savings realized from their energy savings benefits.

Inexpensive and free things you can do to create energy savings include:

• Using heat producing appliances in the evening when temperatures are cooler.
• Replacing all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
• Check A/C filter regularly (once a month). Clean or replace as needed.
• Use ceiling fans with your A/C unit.
• Turn up the thermostat when you leave home for several hours.
• Better yet, get a programmable thermostat.

Finally, call to investigate new energy efficient air conditioning system installation and its costs as the HVAC Energy Savings Home Energy Savings piece of the plan.