Comfort is a large part of energy efficiency. We want to be warm during the winter and cool during the summer. In order to achieve this, we need heating and cooling systems that work efficiently in our home.
THE LOWDOWN ON HEATING SYSTEMS
Boiler: Burns gas or oil through the heat exchanger and transfers hot water or steam throughout the home.
Furnace: Burns gas or oil through the heat exchanger and distributes hot air throughout the home through ductwork.
Electric Baseboard: Using electric resistance, electricity is converted to heat energy and transferred throughout the home via baseboard units found at the bottom of the wall. Homes heated primarily through electric baseboard are offered referred to as “all-electric” homes.
Heat Pumps: Working like a refrigerator, but in reverse, heat pumps move heat from outside your home to inside the home. Moving air or water through a heat exchange fluid, the fluid is compressed, which increases the temperature. That warm air or water is then distributed throughout the home. When compared to electric baseboards, heat pumps are more energy-efficient.
The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) determines the efficiency of both boilers and furnaces. Homeowners interested in installing the most energy-efficient model should look for units with an AFUE of 95% or greater. Giveaways for efficient furnaces and boilers include condensing units, sealed combustion, and fan-assisted units.
THE LOWDOWN ON COOLING SYSTEMS
Here in the cool mountains, we often focus on heating systems more than cooling systems. Our top tip for cooling your home would be to keep the windows open at night and close the windows and lower the insulated shades in the morning. But for those of you who need an energy-powered device, here are three cooling systems typically found in American homes.
Air Conditioning: Air Conditioners transfer the hot air from inside your home, to the outside, cooling down the room to a comfortable temperature.
Evaporative Coolers: Evaporative cooler operate using technology based on the basic principles of evaporation you might have learned about in science class. In order to evaporate, water must have heat, which breaks the bonds that hold water molecules together. As liquid water turns into vapor, it removes the heat from the environment, which is why you feel a little chilly in those damp-hot circumstances. Evaporative coolers take this simple concept and turn it into an energy efficient way to cool a home.
Heat Pumps: Not just for heating! Heat pumps allow you to switch to a cooling mode in the summer — and they use roughly half the energy of a typical AC window unit.
HOW TO PAY FOR YOUR PROJECT
CORE primarily focuses on heating systems, providing rebates for furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps. Note that custom rebates are available for projects with large energy savings
Boiler: CORE rebates: 25% of project cost up to $500. Criteria:
- Boiler must have a 92% or greater Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
Furnace: CORE rebates: 25% of project cost up to $500. Criteria:
- Furnace must have a 95% or greater Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
Heating System Maintenance & Tune-up: CORE rebates: 25% of project cost up to $500. Criteria:
- Maintenance and safety tune-up must be performed by a licensed HVAC contractor
- A tune-up should include cleaning, lubrication, checking electrical, checking motors, checking ignition, checking thermostat, checking venting and testing combustion
HEAT PUMP (air or water source, central heating & cooling): CORE rebates: 25% of project cost up to $2,500. Criteria:
- Eligible if the heat pump will be your primary heat source
- Air sealing must be completed prior to adding insulation, unless you are already at or below 0.35
Natural Air Changes per Hour (NACH)
- Insulation projects must conform to the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
- Must be cold climate rated
- Must be ENERGY STAR certified
* If the heat pump is for cooling only or supplemental heating, you may still qualify for a rebate of 25% of project costs up to $500.
Utility rebates may be available:
- Ask yourself, Can Innovation Save the Climate — or at Least Your Energy Bills?, and learn more about how heat pumps work.
- Learn about the technology behind evaporative coolers with this Beat the Heat without A/C blogpost.