Heating and air conditioning account for almost half of all residential energy use in the United States. Using less energy saves both natural resources and money. There are several ways to reduce fuel usage in homes and businesses without compromising comfort. Professional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians at Griffith Energy Services are trained to assess the energy usage in your home and make recommendations for ways to lower energy costs. We also can help you select energy-saving equipment and materials that work with your budget and are appropriate for the unique characteristics of your building. We are a participating contractor of the Home Energy Savings Program, qualified to perform home energy audits in communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region including Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.
Home Energy Audits
A home energy audit, also called an energy assessment, evaluates how much energy your building uses, determines where your building loses energy and provides recommendations about how to improve energy efficiency. Homeowners can do simple energy assessments themselves to identify air leaks or inefficient equipment. Do-it-yourself energy assessments are not as thorough as professional energy audits. A professional uses specialized equipment to identify air leaks, evaluate the safety and efficiency of appliances and recommend ways to lower energy usage. Some utility companies offer free or discounted audits to their customers. A professional home energy assessment includes:
- Review of previous fuel bills
- Inspection of insulation
- Inspection of doors, windows and areas around electrical outlets and water pipes to identify poor joins and leaks
- Inspection of all rooms, basement and attic
- Inspection of ducts, registers and joins
- Inspection of the building exterior
- Inspection of the thermostat
- Inspection of combustion units
- Evaluation of safety of electrical system
- Door blower test
- Infrared imaging to identify variations in surface temperature
- Written evaluation of energy usage and sources of loss
- Recommendations about ways to improve energy efficiency and create an energy-efficient home
- Information about tax credits, rebates and other incentives for energy efficiency upgrades
We also ask for information about how the house is used. Questions may include how many people live there, what temperature settings are used for heating and air conditioning, whether anyone stays home during working hours, how many rooms are regularly used and what indoor comfort problems you experience such as hot or cold spots in rooms, drafts or condensation on windows.
Technicians at Griffith Energy Services are trained to use both the blower door and infrared cameras to gather data during the energy assessment of your home. A blower door reveals where air leaks occur and shows the air-tightness of the building. To run this test, a powerful fan is mounted on an outside door, pulling air through the house. Air leaks around electrical outlets, windows, doors, plumbing and even the frame of the house, or building envelope, are revealed.
Infrared cameras, or thermographic scans, show variations in temperature within or outside the building. The device shows variations in surface heat, which indicate heat loss and air leaks in a building envelope. Infrared scans are particularly useful in evaluating the effectiveness of insulation in the building’s walls, attic and flooring.
Audit recommendations help you learn how to create an energy efficient home. Recommendations focus on several aspects of energy usage including:
- Upgrading to more energy efficient equipment
- Ways to seal leaks in the building shell and interior
- Improving insulation
- Keeping existing equipment in good working order through preventive maintenance
- Ways to use less electricity by implementing simple lifestyle changes
Implementing recommendations made during a home energy assessment can save up to 30 percent on fuel bills. Some states and local governments offer incentives such as rebates or tax credits for installing energy-efficient equipment or energy-saving materials like weather stripping and insulation. The DSIRE data base, overseen by the U. S. Department of Energy, lists incentives and policies implemented by each state to lower energy usage. The federal government implements the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help qualifying low-income households meet energy costs.
How to Implement Recommendations
A professional HVAC contractor can help you decide which recommendations are most cost-effective and which will result in the highest energy savings. If your HVAC unit is more than 10 years old or experiences frequent breakdowns, you may want to install a newer, more energy-efficient model. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the Energy Star program that evaluates the energy usage of appliances, building materials and building techniques. Energy Star-rated equipment outperforms conventional models, provides higher seasonal energy efficiency ratios (SEER) and cuts cooling costs by up to 30 percent.
Preventive maintenance is one of the most cost-effective and simplest ways to keep your HVAC equipment in good working order. The most common reason for an HVAC unit to stop working is a dirty air filter. Replacing or cleaning the filter regularly keeps air flowing through the system. A dirty filter retards air movement, causing the unit to work harder. A well-maintained unit requires fewer repairs and saves energy. Identifying potential problems before they cause a unit to break down saves time and money.
Seasonal tune-ups, one in the spring for the air conditioner and one in the fall for the furnace, keep the unit working properly and efficiently. Tune-ups examine all elements of the HVAC system:
- Clean or replace the filter
- Lubricate all moving parts including fans and blowers
- Check furnace hood, plenum and housing
- Check gas or oil furnace ignition, combustion and pressure systems
- Ensure that the unit cycles on and off properly
- Check refrigeration levels
- Inspect and clean drip pan and hoses
- Inspect electrical connections and measure voltage
- Inspect and calibrate the thermostat
- Inspect and clean evaporator and condenser coils
- Inspect air intake grilles and joins
Both the Department of Energy and the EPA recommend seasonal tune-ups to ensure that equipment operates at optimum efficiency. Tune-ups save energy and can prolong the life of the unit.
About Griffith Energy Services
Established over 100 years ago, we provide heating and air conditioning services in the greater Baltimore, Md., area and nearby locations including Manassas, Va., Dover, Del., Washington D.C. and Martinsburg, W.Va. Services include:
- Repair, maintenance and installation of all makes and models of furnaces, boilers, heat pumps and air conditioners
- 24-hour emergency service
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certified technicians
- Factory Authorized Dealer for Trane, Regal Furnaces, Columbia Boiler and Climate Master
- 12 convenient locations to serve you quickly
- Annual service agreements for preventive maintenance and repairs
- One-year guarantee on all repairs
- Well-stocked trucks
- Evaluation of load for proper sizing of new HVAC units
- Indoor air quality products including air filters and air purifiers
- A+ rating by the Greater Maryland Better Business Bureau
- Licensed, insured and bonded
As Factory Authorized Dealers, we must meet stringent standards to maintain this prestigious designation by providing not only state-of-the-art technology but superior customer service. Our A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau is a testament to our commitment to customer service. Our technicians are knowledgeable, certified by NATE in both core competencies and specialties in refrigeration, heating and cooling. If you would like to increase energy efficiency in your home and save on fuel bills, call one of our courteous technicians to discuss your indoor comfort needs.
Written by Kevin Spain