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admin 06.09.2014

Fall is already here and before we know it, the winter months will be making their presence known as well.  If you have been someone who has experienced an increased energy bill during the winter months, we are here to provide you with some energy and money-saving tips for the upcoming season.
Seal your windows and doors.  If you have any gaps in your windows and doors leading to the outside, not only will your air conditioning be working overtime to compensate for the cool air coming in, but that same produced heat will escape through the gap, resulting in a cycle of increased energy cost. For more energy and money-saving tips, reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter, or contact us to discuss! The temperature is getting lower and lower while your heating bill is getting higher and higher. Do you have rooms that are rarely used or certain family members that prefer a different temperature in their room? Do you have rooms in your house can be noticeably cooler or hotter during a certain season or time of day?
If any of the following apply to you, you may want to consider a temperature zoning system. At Casteel we understand that energy costs are starting to rise and the global climate is changing. Solar energy technology is constantly improving and making it more affordable for everyone. Not only will solar energy help you get a peace a mind about your impact on the environment, it also contributes to many new jobs. Knowing the results to these tests allows us to make recommendations for resolving the issues you have and we’ll provide a free quote to you and stay with you every step of the way. Air conditioners come in many different sizes, whether they are window air conditioners or central air conditioners. To calculate this, simply multiply the length times the width of the room or area to be cooled.
Do your self a favor and measure the area of the home to be cooled, calculate your BTU needs and size the air conditioner properly. If your attic is accessible and you like home improvement projects, you can Do-It-Yourself with help from our DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR.
You can also hire a contractor who will use special diagnostic tools to pinpoint and seal the hidden air leaks in your home. Many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel — like those around windows and doors.
Homeowners are often concerned about sealing their house too tightly; however, this is very unlikely in most older homes. After any home sealing project, have a heating and cooling technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. When correctly installed with air sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year. See Recommended Levels of Insulation to determine what is most cost-effective for your home.
For more comprehensive information, check the Department of Energy’s online Insulation Guide . In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house.
Because some ducts are concealed in walls and between floors, repairing them can be difficult.
Additionally, if you are replacing your forced-air heating and cooling equipment, make sure your contractor installs the new system according to ENERGY STAR quality installation guidelines. Window-mounted air conditioners (also called room air conditioners) aren’t particularly efficient; the best available models have an EEREnergy-efficiency rating or energy-efficiency ratio.
So if you care about energy efficiency, you should use a central air conditioner, not a window air conditioner — right?
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the electricity used for home air conditioning represents almost 5% of all the electricity produced in the U.S.
There are two metrics used to rate the efficiency of central air conditioners: the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) and the Seasonal Energy Efficiency RatioSeasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the total cooling output (in BTU) of an air conditioner or heat pump during its normal annual usage period divided by its total energy input (in Watt-hours) during the same period.
SEERSeasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the total cooling output (in BTU) of an air conditioner or heat pump during its normal annual usage period divided by its total energy input (in Watt-hours) during the same period. Unlike central air conditioners — which are rated by both EER and SEER — room air conditioners (window units) are rated only by EER. Room air conditioners that use at least 10% less energy than the federal standard are eligible for an Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. The idea behind the SEER rating is to allow consumers to compare the seasonal efficiency (rather than the peak efficiency) of split-system air conditioners. Some critics have noted that air conditioner manufacturers design equipment to achieve a high score on the laboratory SEER test, even when some of the engineering solutions used to achieve high test scores result in poor performance or efficiency in the field. John Proctor, the president of Proctor Engineering Group in San Rafael, California, has performed useful research into possible flaws in the SEER rating method. According to some experts, problems with the SEER rating system may make EER a more useful metric for comparing the efficiency of central air conditioners. Even though central air conditioners are more efficient than window-mounted air conditioners, homes equipped with window-mounted air conditioners use less energy for cooling than homes with central air conditioning.
Other readers — including those who assume that equipment efficiency is the most important factor in energy use — may be surprised to learn that homes with window-mounted air conditioners are energy misers. People living in homes with central air conditioning tend to keep every room in the house cool — even unoccupied rooms — while people living in homes with window-mounted air conditioners are more likely to just cool one or two rooms. Since window air conditioners are often noisy, homeowners remember to turn them off when they leave a room. Two or three window-mounted air conditioners cost less to install than central air conditioning.
If you are designing a new home, be sure to locate all ductwork inside of the home's conditioned envelope.
If you use one or two window-mounted air conditioners instead of central air conditioning, pat yourself on the back.
The most efficient way to air condition your house is probably with ductless minisplit units.
The problem with a zoned forced-air system is knowing what to do with the extra air flow when a motorized damper shuts off a zone.
In technical writing, where a slash is most often used to indicate division or a fraction, the introduction of an unjustified slash (in my opinion) serves only to introduce confusion. One ton of cooling per 450 to 550 square feet is an old rule of thumb that makes sense for older houses. For a new superinsulated house, a better rule of thumb is one ton of cooling per 1,000 square feet. Inverter drive ductless mini-splits, while considerably more expensive than window-shakers, will out perform them (and ducted whole-house systems) with margin. At lower compressor and blower speeds at outdoor temps between 80-90F the laboratory measured COP of the unit is literally twice the manufacturer's reported number (which it taken at a mid-level compressor and blower speed.) Oversizing slightly guarantees that it'll outperform the SEER number, and by more than just a little bit. Has anyone studied the losses--both AC and heating (heating if the AC is kept in the winter)--through the window AC side panels which are sometimes cloth-thin corrugated pieces that slide out to cover the window gap? You're right that the corrugated side panels on most window-mounted air conditioners leave a lot to be desired. I am certainly aware of all of the deficiencies of room air conditioners, which is why I wrote that "the most efficient way to air condition your house is probably with ductless minisplit units." Dana Dorsett apparently agrees with that conclusion.
In some (but not all) instances the most efficient way to air-condition would be with ground source heat pumps (GSHP) but the very high first costs of GSHP often make the power savings of that modestly higher efficiency more expensive than making up the difference with grid-tied rooftop photovoltaic panels. Windows, complicated and expensive holes in exterior walls, are installed to afford light, view and ventilation to the room's occupants.
I grudgingly support their use in nothern zones for the 10-20 days per year occupants need some cooling and dehu to get some sleep. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Floridian steeped in full meal deal ducted and zoned central sir solutions.
That said, I'm in the midst of my first minsplit install and am truly amazed by the efficiency, quiet, versatility and ease of installation of minisplits. My own house has geo, and experiences the extraordinary efficiency a well-executed GSHP system affords - 3400 SF heated and cooled for $400 per year. While my article compares the energy used for cooling in homes with window-mounted air conditioners to the energy used for cooling in homes with central air conditioning, I agree with you that window-mounted air conditioners are noisy, ugly, and wet. In fact, my article noted that one reason that people with window-mounted air conditioners save money is precisely because they are so noisy that they remember to turn them off. Central AC does induce a sort of "moral hazard" in the form of inadvertent, unnecessary consumption. I grew up in NE Mass, where AC was needed on blessedly few days, but I would have paid a pretty penny to have one on those few nights I couldn't sleep, and that discomfort is one of the things that drove me to learn about refrigeration and AC.
There simply aren't enough hard core environmentalists in my area to risk basing a business model on deprivation. My first minisplit project is a 4 zone system going into, of all things, a downmarket rental consisting of two used doublewide mobile homes. What I need to have happen is for the minis to support more heads at lower tonnages - A 3 ton unit supports 4 heads of minimum 9 kbtuh capacity - what I really need are two ton units able to support up to 4 heads at 6 kbtuh each. Yeah, up north, our old house only needs AC for 10-12 days a year, so we do live with the ugly, wet, noisy boxes in windows (well one lives in a hole previously punched through the back wall).
I'm still almost considering mini-splits though because I have a sad hunch those 10-12 days per year may be steadily increasing as time goes by, so maybe it'd be worth the expense. I'm afraid manufacturers and installers of oversized, centralized, systematized HVAC equipment and their associated leaky, uninsulated ductwork in unconditioned spaces might not be too amused with your latest musings. It's harder than you think to overturn a business model that supplies comfort or luxury, even when the business model includes very high operating costs and environmental hazards. The implication of this article is analogous to stating "studies show that ear muffs keep ears warmer than jackets, so choose ear muffs over jackets on a cold day." Never mind that ear muffs hinder your ability to hear, are typically unsightly, and are usually only purchased by those who practice pocket protection. Room air conditioners and their more expensive overseas cousins, the ductless mini-splits, are a mere tool that may be able to meet performance and comfort targets, in limited situations. How does a room air conditioner or ductless mini split assist in the circulation of ventilation air throughout every living space? Down our way there are a few hardy souls who soldier on through our long hot humid summers without any AC at all but for the rest of us central ducted systems have really been the only option for decades. Mike, we're accustomed to many of the more efficient appliances hailing from Europe but with names like Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu and Daikin dominating the field I think you'll find that this technology originates in a completely different corner of the world. On average, ductless minisplit units are far more efficient than split-system air conditioners with typical duct systems as installed in the U.S. There is no doubt that a ducted system's ability to put 10 CFM into the walk in closet or pantry, 20 CFM into a small bathroom, and otherwise be adjusted to meet all the CFM requirements shown in a carefully executed room-by-room Manual J load calc. Of course ducts should be placed in conditioned space, but 80+% homes down here have them up in the attic.
A product of proper ceiling-based air distribution systems is that they produce  almost perfect mixing of air  in cooling mode, with air change effectiveness approaching one. It's possible to use space-conditioning ductwork for providing ventilation, but it's not ideal. It's very rare to see a well designed, well installed, tight duct system installed within a home's conditioned envelope.
Yes, and doing good design is what I hope to inspire others to do in an industry with wonderfully skilled tradesmen who just need bosses who will pay them to do their best work. And to further clarify on the ventilation, I'm not advocating an integrated space conditioning and ventilation system.
If there are to be real benefits to the environment then proposed improvements must be not merely effective but adopted widely.
Interesting coincidence that you put up this post as I am getting proposals for mini splits to replace the window AC units and single ancient floor furnace in my house. The higher first cost of the mini splits over a single system is hard to justify, but I've wanted to experience them first hand so I can speak from experience, and I've decided that having the room by room control, and the higher efficiency is worth the expense. As a side note, I think I'm going to keep my gas fired gravity floor furnace just in case the power goes out in the winter. I just couldn't let this go on without mentioning the best option for hot dry climates - swamp coolers. As great a solution as they are, they aren't gaining any market share in the new home market.
Of course, recommending that folks pull the AC units out of the windows in the winter is key.
There are far better low cost cooling solutions for the high Southwest deserts than swamp coolers. You have accurately described the problems with badly designed and badly installed evaporative coolers.
Anyone who wants to install an evaportive cooler needs to design the system well, install it well, and use it appropriately.
To flush the air out of your house at night when the outdoor air temperature is low, what you need is a whole-house fan, not an ERV or HRV. I think one thing that people forget is that most mini splits are installed without any system for refreshing the air. I don't really disagree with you, but running an HRV during the day, when outdoor temperatures are higher than indoor temperatures, still raises the indoor temperature. All the best window and through-the-wall units have a small damper to provide optional ventilation. Thanks for the information on through-the-wall air conditioners that have a ventilation option.
For ordinary Americans looking to save energy, however, a room air conditioner can make sense. Portable air conditioners that have a flexible duct between the unit and a window are not using the duct to pull in outdoor air; they are using the duct to exhaust hot air. I don't want to get too far off subject here, but I've really been wondering about these units.
If you’ve been paying attention to energy-efficiency experts and green-building Web sites, you probably know that it’s important to properly size your HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). To avoid these problems, the first step is to insist that your HVAC contractor perform a Manual J calculation to determine the heat loss and heat gainIncrease in the amount of heat in a space, including heat transferred from outside (in the form of solar radiation) and heat generated within by people, lights, mechanical systems, and other sources. If you’re building a new home, your contractor should design your duct system using Manual D. The government Web site goes on to advise, “When the contractors are finished, get a copy of their calculations, assumptions, and the computer printout or finished worksheet.” Well, that’s easy for you to say. Manual J and Manual D are calculation worksheets published by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). Manual J and Manual D calculations are no longer performed with a pencil and paper; contractors now use software programs.
The best-known Manual J software programs are Elite RHVAC, Wrightsoft Right-J8, Adtek AccuLoads, and EnergyGauge. There's some wiggle room in the code, of course; individual inspectors can theoretically approve “heating and cooling calculation methodologies” other than Manual J. As with many code provisions, the requirement for Manual J and Manual D calculations is widely ignored and rarely enforced. Most residential furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners are still sized by rules of thumb instead of careful calculations.
Builders and homeowners who ask HVAC contractors about Manual J and Manual D calculations are usually met by a blank stare. On his GBA blog, Carl Seville recently reported, that it “is difficult to obtain … an accurate HVAC Manual J calculation.
Another GBA blogger, Michael Chandler, reported, “When I have asked my HVAC contractor what it would cost to add Manual D, he responds that a $12,000 system with J alone would be $15,000 with D. Elsewhere, Michael Chandler wrote that his local planning board was “still not even enforcing the Manual J requirement which results in inefficient, oversized air conditioners and attendant humidity and mold problems. On another GBA page, energy consultant Allison Bailes wrote, “HVAC contractors, at least here in the Southeast, don’t often do Manual J load calculations at all.
In his posted comment, Bailes raised an interesting point: the problem of “garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO) Manual J calculations. Hank Rutkowski, the mechanical engineer who wrote the original Manual J document, was recently interviewed for a profile posted on the Green Building Talk Web site. Rutkowski explains the GIGO problem this way: “Manual J is a good tool if you use it aggressively.


Several years ago, I had a conversation with building scientist Joe Lstiburek about air conditioners installed in Building America homes in Las Vegas. According to Lstiburek, his experience proved that high-performance Building America homes in Las Vegas could have had HVAC systems sized at about 60% of Manual J. When air conditioners short cycle, the units don't run long enough to achieve much dehumidification — at least in theory. Increasing evidence shows that energy experts have exaggerated the negative effects of equipment oversizing, however. Although there are ample reasons to believe that oversized air conditioners are less effective than right-sized equipment at dehumidification, at least one field study was unable to measure any performance improvements or energy savings after replacing an existing oversized air conditioner with a new right-sized unit.
The main reason to choose right-sized equipment is to avoid paying too much money for equipment you don't need.
Moreover, a Manual J calculation will provide room-by-room heat loss and heat-gain information that is essential to good duct design.
I don't see how you can draw any conclusions from testing air conditioners in typical poorly built Florida Homes that have air handlers in garages and attics,Low R-value walls AND ceilings that resemble Swiss Cheese. I think as we improve our enclosures that Right Sizing will have much more benefit than just saving money on equipment. Second, one problem you didn't mention in regards to short cycling is the decreased equipment life. Third, I learned from you over in the Q&A section here at GBA a while back about another FSEC study showing that right-sized cooling systems can sometimes make the relative humidity higher in a house. As with everything else in this field, you have to take a systems view and not focus on one detail. In response, let me say that I draw exactly the conclusion that the Florida data support: replacing an existing oversized air conditioner with a new right-sized unit probably won't save energy or improve occupant comfort, unless duct location, duct leakage, and duct insulation problems are simultaneously addressed.
I did not realize that this article and "The bottom line" was strictly about replacing Existing equipment. I would suspect that I am losing air flow because of the way duct work is run through the trusses. You might be interested in a fairly recent study by the Energy Center of Wisconsin where they swapped out an air conditioner for one of a different size and found no difference in energy use. There is very little data to suggest significant energy savings from 'right-sizing" equipment. I'd be interested in any data people can find showing an impact on equipment lifespan, because I've heard that claim before but never seen any data to support it.
First, the contractors do not have a clue about air barriers, they do not believe the attic should be sealed and fiberglass batt insulation is the greatest thing since sliced bread. There is not a HVAC contractor in the country that can overcome all of these faults of the builder. In their defense, in the coastal southeast humidity you cannot expect a 55 degree coil in a 140 degree attic to not condensate profusely. If a "system" is followed everybody contributes to the success of the "system" instead of trying to blame one subcontractor (HVAC) for everybody elses shortcomings. Putting all HVAC equipment and ductwork in conditioned space not only extends the service life of the equipment, but the maintenance and energy savings are nothing to sneeze at. If the designer can design the building using software they ought also to be able to resolve the buildings heat load as well.
While the 2 stage funaces cover a wide range of heating loads, AC sizing is more important. Heating systems design, both the determination of the heat load and the design of the distribution system, are best done as the thermal envelope and the room layout of the house are being designed. When we design custom homes at our office we use CAD software that creates a virtual 3D model.
My understanding is that Manual J, Manual D and the HERS system are based on ASHRAE heat load calculations. Passivhaus PHPP is German import and I am unable to understand it 100% because it references German standards that are not translated into English. In almost all jobs I design we get a Mechanical Engineer involved to do all manuals and design the HVAC the right way. In climates where humidification and dehumidification is highly needed, you should run Manual P. Here in central NC we've been beating the drum on right-sized mechanicals for decades now and I've never once heard the claim that the intent of the right-sizing approach was energy savings.
In heat pump territory (such as here in Virginia), "right-sizing" heat pumps might be leading to an overall increase in energy use. Behold the recent case of an Energy Star house I rated where the heat pump was "right-sized" to match the cooling load, but at design heating conditions, was only able to satisfy about 25% of the load. Some basic issues I see every day that are incorrectly reported on Manual J’s; design temperatures, area and volume, duct system location, insulation values, window areas, orientation, ventilation systems, infiltration rates.
I agree that architects should be more involved in calculating heat and cooling loads as part of a systematic design process.
I always feel like the growing body of research that shows oversizing to be unimportant is oversimplified. I do not agree with the prevailing Florida strategy or that "R-10 walls are probably plenty" in the South. In warmer climates, heat pumps are ideal for high performance homes because they operate continuously at high loads and are unlikely to cause overshoot at part loads.
In full disclosure, I earn my living providing 3rd-party HVAC design services for high performance homes. Your story is one more example in the growing pile of anecdotes that shed light on this issue.
Martin Holladay has worked as a plumbing wholesale counterperson, roofer, remodeler, and builder. There are those times that you’ll forget to set your thermostat before you leave the house, leaving it running and wasting energy. There are plenty of activities you can do to heat your house without changing the thermostat.
Most likely you won’t notice a difference if you lower it by a few degrees, but you will notice the difference in your bill.
You can program your heater to work when you are in the house, or shut off when your not home or sleeping. Proper maintenance of your heating system will help keep your furnace running more efficiently.
In essence, it is a system that allows a consistent temperature in any given region of your home, regardless of the outdoor conditions. The temperature distribution in your home is constantly being affected by sun exposure, rain, humidity, walls, ceilings, and windows insulation quality. We would rather save you money than sell you products and our focus will always be to do right by our clients. These units should be sized to cool the area of your home you’re trying to cool with the most efficiency. To dispute the rumor that bigger is better, an air conditioner too large will cool more quickly, but that may impede the reason for running the air conditioner in the first place. Your local appliance store or heating and cooling center can aid you in selecting the proper air conditioner size for your home.
ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating.
The Guide offers step-by-step instructions for sealing common air leaks and adding insulation to the attic.
A Home Energy Rater can help you find contractors that offer air sealing services in your area.
A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality and there are specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air needed for a house.
For additional information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues related to homes, such as combustion safety, visit EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Web site.
There are several common types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam.
A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. In a typical house, however, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. However, exposed ducts in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and garages can be repaired by sealing the leaks with duct sealant (also called duct mastic).
A quality installation will include a thorough inspection of your duct system, including proper sealing and balancing of ductwork, to help ensure that your new system delivers the most comfort and efficiency.
Well, not really because when the electric bill comes, that big smile of yours will slowly turn to a frown while our eyebrows forcefully meet each other. If your machine does not have this feature, try to install an electronic setback thermostat. Homes that use window-mounted air conditioners use less energy for cooling than homes with central air conditioning. As most commonly used, EER is the operating efficiency of a room air conditioner, measured in Btus of cooling output divided by the power consumption in watt-hours; the higher the EER, the greater the efficiency.
So if you are going to air condition your house, it would appear to make sense to buy the most efficient unit you can find. The unit for both metrics is BtuBritish thermal unit, the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit in temperature—about the heat content of one wooden kitchen match. If you are in the market for a new central air conditioner, look for an Energy Star unit with a SEER of at least 14.5 and an EER of at least 12.
For more information on perceived flaws in the SEER standard and SEER testing protocols, see SEER Ratings Challenged.
After all, homes with central air conditioning usually maintain lower temperatures in more rooms than homes with window-mounted air conditioners. Research has shown that air conditioning systems with ducts in unconditioned attics have duct losses amounting to about 20% of the air conditioner’s cooling output. By contrast, some homeowners with central air conditioning often leave their air conditioning system on all day, even when the home is unoccupied. If you have central air conditioning, be sure to seal all of the seams in your ductwork and insulate ducts well. You probably have a lower carbon footprint than your neighbors who have high-SEER central air conditioners. The cost to operate an evaporative cooler is only a fraction of the cost to operate an air conditioner.
As Jeri Donadee explained in a useful JLC article, "When only one zone in a multi-zone system calls for heat [or cooling], there needs to be some way to dissipate the extra cfm output of the furnace. If the room includes a lot of glazing -- especially unshaded east-facing or west-facing glazing -- you'll need more cooling capacity than you would for a room with smaller windows. But the COP performance at that minimum (in figure 14) is about 8, which translates to an as-operated EER of about 27,or about 2x the efficiency of the very best window units. The amount of air leakage will vary widely, depending on the care used during installation. They are not intended to be support and frame noisy, ugly, wet, air leaking metal boxes to cool rooms.
Window units were against regulations, so my first challenge upon arrival was to configure a window AC so that it looked like a fan from the outside.
While most folks would barely notice loss of AC in walk in closets, pantries, laundry rooms and the like, it is an uphill battle convincing them of that.
The fact the sold the job is that the crawl space ductwork is shot, so the minis compared reasonably well with a conventional system plus a reduct. Home Performance contractors should be very cautious with statements, such as those in previous comments, that seem to support ductless mini splits as the efficiency silver bullet- especially when we cannot easily measure the delivered performance of these units. Unlike Mike M we are welcoming split ductless systems especially for smaller better-insulated homes and I have hopes that costs will drop enough in the next few years to make them an attractive option for low-budget projects. A ductless minisplit is used for space heating and cooling; it is not intended to be a mechanical ventilation system. That coupled with the fact that ductwork placed in attics adds another 30% or so to the total load means there is a heckuva lot of room for improvement. There are only two ways to remedy that: faom the attic or rebuild ducts in a series of soffits and chases.
By nearly eliminating temperature stratification within spaces by delivering higher velocity air within the unoccupied zones, we deliver more occupant comfort, and better distribute ventilation air, than other methods. If the home uses ductwork for the space conditioning system, using the same ductwork to deliver ventilation air often makes sense.
I'd encourage anyone who isn't familiar with this notion to read Martin's post from a couple of years ago on it (just search for Jevon's paradox and it will pop right up). Further, additional water use at the site (home) amounts to only about 3 percent of the water use of an average residential customer." From an NREL report.
In regions where relative humidity is high, evaporative coolers can't cool the air effectively because the air is too damp for further evaporation. Outdoor air passing through the heat exchanger falls in temperature but doesn't pick up any additional moisture. After that, the air passes through a conventional direct evaporative cooler, further lowering the temperature of the air while raising its moisture content. However, trust me -- it's certainly possible to have a badly designed and badly installed ERV.
As long as you live in a dry climate and have enough water to run the system, you'll be comfortable and save a lot of electricity compared to an air conditioned house.
If you operate an ERV or HRV on a day when the outdoor temperature is higher than the indoor temperature, you'll be introducing heat into the house and raising the indoor temperature.
In some cases, the ventilation system uses existing space-heating and space-cooling ductwork to distribute the fresh air. For the most airtight installation, a room air conditioner can be installed in a through-the-wall sleeve that includes gasketing at the perimeter.
It seems that you wouldn't want to be exhausting the room air that you've already paid to cool or heat. Because these units aren't using outdoor air to cool the condenser coils -- they're using indoor air that then gets exhausted -- I imagine that they are less efficient than window-mounted units. The stains on the concrete pad show that the new air conditioner has a smaller footprint than the oversized unit it replaced.
Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Homeowners should insist that contractors use a correct sizing calculation before signing a contract.
But just see how easy it is to get that paperwork from Bob once his Do-It-Right HVAC Service has finished installing your new air conditioner.
For many years, these worksheets have been the standard methods for calculating residential heat loss, heat gain, and duct sizes.
Hank Rutkowski, the mechanical engineer who wrote (and continues to update) Manual J, explained to me how Manual J calculations are performed: “To bridge the gap between the complexity of the paper manual and the contractor you have to have software. High-performance glazing may include multiple layers of glass or plastic, low-e coatings, and low-conductivity gas fill. The one- and two-family dwelling model building code copyrighted by the International Code Council. It seems that few HVAC contractors understand how to prepare an accurate report, often oversizing systems out of habit rather than designing them for the actual house loads. Several energy experts have commented on the GIGO problem, including John Proctor, Hank Rutkowski, and Allison Bailes. The best argument is simple: oversized equipment usually costs more than right-sized equipment. For example, an oversized furnace brings a home up to temperature quickly, and then shuts off.
Studies have confirmed that oversized furnaces don't use any more energy than right-sized furnaces.
A Manual J calculation will ensure you don't spend more than necessary for your furnace, boiler, or air conditioner. Of course, there's always more you could've written, but you have to keep your articles from turning into books, so let me raise a few more points that didn't make the cut above. Once you get the loads (Manual J), you have to select equipment (Manual S) and work out some of the air distribution issues (Manual T) before designing the duct system (Manual D).


It's starting up and shutting down that causes most of the wear and tear, so short cycling equipment probably doesn't last as long. Of course, that comes from looking at only one part of the system - the equipment size - without considering the effect of the ducts.
This was a spray foam insulated house with equipment put in according to Manual J loads, but the contractor didn't do anything different about the duct design than he usually does.
These calculations are necessary because they provide you with design airflows in CFM for each room. If your HVAC contractor skipped some of these steps, there's no way of knowing what's wrong with your system.
If your HVAC contractor can't step up to the plate, you'll have to hire a home performance contractor, an energy consultant, or an engineer to perform the necessary design work, verification testing, and equipment commissioning.
A system that consists of a good air barrier, thermal barrier, and all HVAC inside the building envelope is the only way to acheive proper conditions for the manuel calculations to be totaly true. The HVAC contractor knows that in these building conditions, if he follows manuel J he will get calls in the summer for too hot and calls in the winter for being too cold. An encapsulated floor and duct system, or an encapsulated crawl space would act the same as a vapor barrier under a concrete slab. Speaking of sneezing, an HVAC system inside the building envelope with a good air and thermal barrier and properly ventilated will leave you nothing to sneeze at.
A properly sized cooling unit will run longer between cycles and take out more indoor humidity than an oversized one.
It is my experience that I get much smaller equipment, better duct design (4 manuals), higher quality installation inspected by the ME and a final commissioning and balancing of the system.
The Florida study could not be more irrelevant to the true issue here which is maintaining indoor air quality through proper dehumidification and reducing opportunities for condensation and mold growth within the conditioned envelope. The most efficient AC units these days have a large cooling fin surface and the appliance is really big compared to older, less efficient models.
It is compatible with international norms (ISO 13790) and well validated with dynamic simulation tools as well as with measured data. I believe strongly in the importance of proper Manual J and D calculations, and I believe strongly in the importance of right-sizing rather than oversizing. Unless the furnace and duct system are located inside the envelope, the heat absorbed by the mass of the system will be lost to unconditioned space every time the system cycles off. This is especially true for furnaces In high performance homes, where gross oversizing is not uncommon.
I stand by my statement that "Studies have confirmed that oversized furnaces don't use any more energy than right-sized furnaces." If you can cite a study that shows significant energy savings attributable to replacing an existing oversized furnace with a new right-sized furnace, I'd love to read it.
Your hypothetical savings are predicated on cases where the furnace and duct system are located outside the thermal envelope.
He built his first passive solar house in northern Vermont in 1974, and has lived off the grid since 1975. With a programmable thermostat, the temperature can be set for a specific time and take that worry off of your hands. A temperature zoning system from Casteel will not only help control the temperature in different rooms but it will also save you money on energy bills. You will not only be helping the environment but you will be supporting jobs in this tough economy! If there’s a room in your home that you only use occasionally or a room that gets used at certain times of the day, you can control the temperature and the times the room is at that temperature or another altogether.
The system allows you to set different temperatures for different zones and uses dampers that open and closed based on your settings for each zone.
Honeywell has been using this same idea since 1945 and has developed the technology for today’s homes. Its energy efficient because you are not heating or cooling any areas unnecessarily and there’s a five year warranty. You see, along with cooling the air, the air conditioner is also extracting moisture from the air (humidity) that makes all of us feel hot and sticky. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills.
If you are concerned about how tight your home is, hire a contractor, such as a Home Energy Rater, who can use diagnostic tools to measure your home’s actual leakage. Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product which can help save energy in hot, sunny climates. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country.
If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set. In addition, insulating ducts that run through spaces that get hot in summer or cold in winter (like attics, garages, or crawlspaces) can save significant energy. Each day, people activate several appliances and gadgets – TVs, radios, home theaters, computers, ovens, fans, refrigerators, air conditioners and many more. SEER measures how efficiently a residential central cooling system operates over an entire cooling season.
When shopping for a room air conditioner, look for an Energy Star unit with an EER of 10.7 or more.
However, if you have a new superinsulated house, and if ductless minisplit units can provide both heating and cooling, then these units may be a good, low-cost solution.
Not all HVAC contractors are capable of designing and installing forced-air zoning equipment.
Some brands of zone control ignore this problem, and let the high airflow howl through the small duct. There are outer and inner covers for this I know but I doubt this problem was factored into the efficiency ratings. Installation in a custom through-the-wall box, carefully gasketed, is obviously preferable to window mounting.
Better still is to evaluate homes which are silently kept affordably comfortable without temperature stratification over a very narrow range, like 3 degrees, and without unfavorable hotel-room-noisemakers placed on every wall. Meanwhile their much higher unit efficiency especially in the heating cycle is bound to put pressure on the manufacturers of conventional systems to upgrade their technology. All over the world, homeowners are living in efficient, healthy, and comfortable homes that are cooled with ductless minisplits. However, that's not how it's done in Europe, and that's not how it's done in hydonically heated homes in New England, where dedicated ventilation ductwork is more common. However, your system will still incur an energy penalty compared to a ductless minisplit system, because you'll use electrical energy to blow all that air through all that ductwork, and you'll have to overcome the static pressure of the duct system to do so.
You see them used in dark offices all over the world where they run 24 hours a day in the middle of the building and everyone gets sick. All of these different types of equipment are space cooling systems, not ventilation systems. If a portable air conditioner has no duct to exhaust heat, it won't cool the room where it is located. If you can rig up a piece of gasketed plywood that limits air leakage at the area where the duct goes through the window, I imagine that such an air conditioner wouldn't be any worse than the typical window-mounted unit. If the unit has brought a room down to 70F during a hot day, then continuing to use the unit would cause it to remove the 70F air from the room to condense the refrigeration gases. Although most energy-efficiency experts strongly urge contractors to avoid oversizing HVAC equipment, researchers from the Florida Solar Energy Center have shown that right-sized air conditioners often use just as much energy as oversized equipment.
In most areas of the country, it’s very difficult to find a residential HVAC contractor who is willing to perform Manual J and Manual D calculations.
This service is often offered at little or no cost to homeowners by … conscientious heating and air conditioning contractors.” Yeah, right. The IRC is meant to be a stand-alone code compatible with the three national building codes—the Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) National code, the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) code and the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) code. In one case, when I asked about getting one, the guy did not know what I was talking about.
But not enough moisture has collected on the cold coil or on the pan below for any water to have actually gone down the drain. Moreover, newer modulating or two-speed furnaces operate efficiently under part-load conditions, solving any possible problems from furnace oversizing. The cooling systems couldn't keep up in summer, however, with temperatures barely getting below 80 F with the units running continuously.
It’s amazing to me how most HVAC contractor don’t even know what you are talking about when you ask for all 4 manuals. Commissioning includes measuring the airflow at the coil, and the airflow at each register in every room, to verify that the delivered cfm matches the design cfm. The cooling setpoint can be higher as the lower indoor humidity level will feel comfortable. An ME is an independent, third party designer who is not biased to oversize the system and with his designs my clients get much better bids. If the design heat load is greater than the capacity of the heat pump at design temperatures, then an electric resistance heater kit is added to the system to make up the difference. It is especially adapted to high-performance buildings and can be used to prove Passive House requirements. Due to higher temperature differential, this is a bigger issue for furnaces than for air conditioners and heat pumps. If a furnace only runs 20 minutes out of the hour on a design day, perimeter zones will experience significant temperature droop before the thermostat "sees" the load (the longer the off cycle, the more pronounced the droop). In homes with poor insulation, non-existent air barrier and leaky ducts in the attic, a heat pump may not be the best choice.
BTW, if the smallest available furnace that can carry the cooling load is more than 150% of the design load, then a gas-fired hydronic coil may be the best option, assuming natural gas is available. Of course, substantial savings accrue from moving a furnace and ductwork from an unconditioned attic or garage to within a home's conditioned space. I'm a strong believer in energy conservation, but I also believe that it's important for energy consultants to base their advice on data.
In 1980, Holladay bought his first photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. Adjust the temperature just a tad and notice a change in your energy bill, without compromising your comfort.
Rinnai covers al the bases from smaller homes in warmer climates to medium or large homes in any climate.
Their systems can handle anywhere from two to 32 zones and controls every zone from one device. Well, by measuring the area of the area to be cooled, you’ll have a pretty good idea what size air conditioner is for you.
This will increase your electric bill and it is unlikely the unit will be able to cool the area effectively.
Although the air may be cooler, if the unit doesn’t run long enough, the moisture cannot be extracted from the air properly.
The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type).
Even just by a turning these appliances on and off, you are already given consuming much power.
Central air conditioners (also called whole-house air conditioners or split-system air conditioners) are significantly more efficient; it’s possible to buy one with an EER of 14 or even 15.
The relationship between SEER and EER depends on location, because equipment performance varies with climate factors like air temperature and humidity.
Proctor and Cohn wrote, “The increased installation of high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) air conditioners along with utility program rebates for these units prompted a study of the measured performance of these systems. Other brands will allow for the other zone(s) to open slightly and allow for the air to “leak” into areas that do not actually require conditioning.
If you want to include a mechanical ventilation system in your house -- and you should -- then it needs be be designed and installed.
It's certainly possible to design and build an inefficient, unhealthy, and uncomfortable house that includes a ductless minisplit unit, but I am not advocating bad design or construction practices.
And without many unsightly boxes mounted within  the numerous rooms within a home, they fall well short of being a single, space conditioning system capable of providing code-acceptable heating installation in our state (CA) (68F at a distance 3' above the floor in every room). It has also become everyones solution for solving bad design in hot climates, especially in the third world.
But in all cases, the ventilation system needs to be designed and installed -- it doesn't come as part of the cooling equipment.
Most sources repeat the same advice: oversized furnaces and air conditioners cost too much, waste energy, and sometimes provide lower levels of comfort. For the calculations to be meaningful, information on all of these factors must be correctly entered into the software program. Dozens of studies have confirmed that the degree of oversizing typically ranges from 30% to 200%. He adds 5 to 10 degrees to the summer and winter design temperatures, calls the building ‘average’ instead of ‘tight’ and doesn't take credit for shading by interior blinds and drapes.
I measured the air flow with a flow hood, and the 7 tons of equipment capacity was moving 5 tons worth of air - 2000 cfm instead of 2800 cfm.
Adding more to the problem is that most manual Js are run with the wrong design temperature, wrong multiplier, and etc. God forbid we still think it is acceptable that a designer be able to go through the design process for a building without knowing what the heat load is when they come out the other end of an iterative design process? As a cautionary tale of why you shouldn't expect miraculous results from poorly conceived piecemeal upgrades it has some value but I'd hate to see it quoted as a reason NOT to apply best-practice engineering to mechanical systems in properly built homes.
I'm seeing a lot of cases where "right-sized" heat pumps are quite a bit undersized for the heating load, thereby leading to an increase in the use of the inefficient electric resistance heater. The planning package comprises many tools specifically useful for the design of high-performance buildings. Under part-load conditions, a furnace's minimum run-time logic causes the opposite problem - overshoot. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow.
So it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance from the insulation.
Everyone gets what they need, appliances get their juice, users get their convenience and electricity is just happy with the thought of being needed and that you would pay anything for it so just not to ruin that cool feeling while watching your favorite show and re-heating a pizza at the same time.
One of the appliances that eat up too much electricity –thus contributing greatly to your bill- is the air conditioner. This project assessed the performance of these systems in the climate zones found in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. A third option is to install a bypass damper that allows the excess air to be recirculated back to the return. The key is the software, which takes the complexity and makes it simple enough for an eighth grader to use. In TX I did found an HVAC contractor to use his ME but it took four calculations and redesigns and a “come to Jesus” meeting for them to agree to do it correctly. You never run out of hot water if you go with a tankless and they are between 50-70% more effiient than most standard gas or electric heaters. You know the feeling when your skin is moist and you get goose bumps when cool air flows over it. But even if the with the huge bills, you still would not want to replace your air-conditioner with a hand fan. With properly sized heating and cooling systems in our hot, dry climate, we deeply bury radial designed ductwork in unconditioned attic space and measure distribution system delivery efficiencies above 90%. In many cases you can get one or all of the following costs savings: an Energy Star rebate, a Federal Tax credit or even a local utility rebate. The SEER rating is Btu of cooling output during a typical hot season divided by the total electric energy in watt-hours to run the unit.



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