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Energy efficiency is a big topic with today’s homeowners, and smart families are attempting all manner of adjustments to make their homes greener. Unfortunately, many well-meaning efforts at energy efficiency backfire, having the opposite effect. Be wary of these common pitfalls as you outfit your Westminster, Maryland, home so you can make sure you’re successful in your efforts to go green.

Improperly Sized Systems

A new, energy-efficient HVAC system is a great way to lower your utility bills and create a greener home. However, you need to be careful about the size of the system. Consult an HVAC technician to determine how large your furnace or air conditioner needs to be, and never use rule-of-thumb measurements.

A system that’s too large will heat and cool the house quickly, but it will need to cycle on and off frequently as it does so. This excessive cycling puts added strain on the system as well as your wallet, ultimately reducing efficiency. If your system is too small, you’ll have a different problem. It will run continuously as it struggles to heat or cool the house, but you’ll have trouble hitting your desired temperatures. Consult with a professional to determine which size is just right.

Misguided Heating Attempts

In an attempt to keep their homes warm without expending energy from their furnaces, many homeowners turn to the fireplace instead. The thought is that a fire is a natural source of heat and light that will allow you to turn off some of your appliances while you enjoy the cozy glow. While no one can argue with the ambiance of a roaring fire, this isn’t an energy-efficient solution.

If you don’t already have a fireplace, do not install one for the sake of green heating. A fireplace provides a giant hole to the outdoors that will provide entry to cool air. A fire can’t adequately counter the influx of chilly air, so you’re still left with a colder house. An unsealed fireplace lets cold air in continuously, offsetting the minor convenience of a warm fire when one is lit. And if you do have a fireplace, the most energy efficient option is sealing it with a fireplace damper.

An Overly Tight Envelope

Most homeowners are aware of the importance of creating a tight home envelope that keeps heated and cooled air inside and prevents outdoor air from seeping in through cracks. However, tightening your envelope without addressing air circulation can spell disaster for your indoor air quality. If your home can’t breathe at all, pollutants like carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will build up in the air. This can lead to issues with allergies and asthma.

You don’t want a leaky home, but you do want a well-ventilated house. A whole-house ventilation system will systematically cycle air throughout the home so you get fresh air in and send pollutants out in a carefully managed manner that will improve energy efficiency and breathability at once.

Improper Maintenance Procedures

Regular maintenance visits are important for achieving the maximum possible energy efficiency for your HVAC systems. However, you can’t trust just any company with these visits. Always make sure you’re working with an experienced and certified HVAC technician. If a furnace tune-up is performed incorrectly, the system may misfire improperly or produce more than the allowable amount of carbon monoxide (CO). The CDC reports that non-fire-related CO poisoning is responsible for an average of 15,000 emergency room visits and 500 unintentional deaths a year in the United States.

In addition to using a reliable HVAC company for your maintenance, you should always keep a functioning carbon monoxide detector in your home. CO detectors are required in any home with a combustion appliance, but many homeowners are unaware of this rule and lack the proper equipment.

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about energy efficiency. For cooling and heating recommendations tailored to your home, contact Griffith Energy Services at 888-474-3391. We can help you find the right approach so you’re reducing your energy expenses, protecting indoor air quality, and creating a more eco-friendly home.

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