It’s a fact that your Xcel energy bill, or those from other providers, can be among your highest home maintenance expenses. It just makes sense to want to lower it as much as possible, and that’s even more important as we approach the heating season. So, if you're worried about your heating bill this winter, here are some ways you can conserve energy and save cash for other things at the same time.
As temperatures fall in the upper Midwest, it’s natural to start thinking about heating your home for the coming season, and a perfect time to consider installing an energy efficient furnace. But unless you’ve recently purchased a new furnace, you may not be aware of current innovations in both efficiency and comfort. Here are a few tips to help you get started researching and selecting the right furnace for your home.
When it comes to staying cool during a Minnesota summer, the default device that many think of to keep them comfortable is an air conditioner. The next appliance that may come to mind is a heat pump. Although not as popular in our state, a heat pump can provide not only cool air in the summer, but heat in the winter too. Let’s look at a comparison of heat pump vs. AC to find what’s best for you!
Topics: Energy Efficiency
You may have heard of people using heat pumps in their homes as an energy efficient alternative (or supplement) to furnaces and air conditioners. Despite the name, a heat pump can both cool and heat a home and they are great for those with moderate heating and cooling needs. So how does a heat pump work?
Topics: Energy Efficiency
If you’ve seen the abbreviation “BTU” on heating and cooling products or noticed it listed on your energy bill and wondered, what does that mean, you’ve come to the right place for answers. Our resident expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, answers the FAQs on BTUs and how they affect your home.
“We all have heat energy moving about our homes throughout the year,” says Keith. “In the world of HVAC, we measure heat leaving our homes (heat loss) or coming in (heat gain) in BTUs. A BTU is a British Thermal Unit. It’s a unit of measure like a calorie or a joule, but it’s an English unit. Like using yard instead of meter, we use BTU instead of calorie.”
Topics: Energy Efficiency
There is good news for those of you who’ve wanted to make some energy efficient updates to your home, but still haven’t made the leap. The federal tax credit has been extended. Originally set to expire at the end of 2014, the 25C federal tax credit – which applies to energy efficiency improvements in existing homes or for the purchase of high-efficiency heating, cooling and water-heating equipment – will now run through the end of 2016. Here are some things you need to know about the extension.
- Although the tax credit was set to end in 2014, it has now been renewed and extended until Dec. 31, 2016.
- According to EnergyStar.com, the tax credit covers 10 percent of the cost, up to $500, or a specific amount from $50-$300.
- The cap is $500. As in previous years, the cumulative maximum amount of tax credit that can be claimed by a taxpayer in all years combined is $500.
- If you already claimed the credit in years past, you are not eligible to claim it again.
- It will only apply to improvements made to an existing home that you currently live in. It does not apply to new construction or rentals.
Topics: Energy Efficiency
If you are new to homeownership, learning about HVACs and furnace and air conditioning maintenance can seem daunting – or even boring. But never fear, you’ve come to the right place, because we at StayComfy Heating and Air Conditioning want to arm you with the knowledge you need to understand your system. Your Complete HVAC guide is filled with simple, but crucial, stuff. No over-your-head info here.
Did we lose you yet? Good. We’ll make it easy, starting with basic questions.
What is an HVAC?
Don’t feel silly asking, we know you can get the answer with a Google search, but who wants to wade through all the mucky muck?
An HVAC is the whole system that helps you stay comfortable in your home.
HVAC stands for Heating (H), Ventilating (V) and Air Conditioning (AC). It refers to the whole system that heats, cools and conditions the air in your house – keeping you comfy no matter the season. The components that make up your HVAC are typically a furnace, air conditioner, thermostat (controls), ductwork, and vents/grilles. Some people have additional components like heat pumps, humidifiers, air cleaners, and UV lamps. These are not necessary to make your HVAC system work, but they are great add-ons for comfort. (If you’d like to learn more about what they do, click here to see our products page.)
If you’ve ever been stuck wondering whether to repair or replace something after it breaks, you are in good company. Is it worth the money to get it fixed or should you just buy new? That’s the question many ask themselves when their car breaks down, their computer crashes for the hundredth time, or their air conditioner stops keeping them cool. Well, since we’re your experts at keeping you comfortable in your home we’re here to help you with the latter. Here are our air conditioner tips for homeowners when you’re deciding whether to repair or replace your AC.
Budget/Return On Investment
When deciding to buy new vs. fix what you’ve got, it’s always good to first look at what you can afford. Take a look at your budget and decided how you want to save money – a $200 repair may be the temporary band-aid you can afford right now, but it also may mean you’ll need more repairs on your AC down the line. You’ll need to weigh whether it’s worth the investment now — and based on energy efficiency alone, it may be.
Keith Hill, technical support manager for Minnesota Air, says because the minimum SEER rating – or energy efficiency rating – is now required to be 13 SEER or higher in the United States, even the most inexpensive units now (ACs rated 13 SEER) are 30 percent more efficient than the most inexpensive units just 9 years ago when SEER 10 was the minimum.
“That’s a 30 percent reduction in fuel consumption even for the most basic new unit,” he says. “Or save more and buy a 16 or even 20 SEER unit. Those numbers equate directly to fuel consumption — 16 SEER is 60 percent more efficient than a 10 SEER. It’s that simple.”
Most of us are looking for ways to save money. We may carpool, clip coupons, turn off the lights when we leave the room, or put off taking a family vacation in order to balance the family budget. Fortunately, energy bills are one area where it can be easy to cut costs—if you know what to do. During a hot summer, your AC can be the biggest energy sucker in your home, so here are four tips to increase your air conditioning efficiency. After all, there’s no reason you can’t be comfortable and still save a little money.
Tip 1: Clean Your AC
If you want to make sure you’re maximizing your savings keep this in mind: a clean AC is a happy AC. To keep your air conditioner running at peak performance, clean it before you turn it on for the season and change the filter regularly. A dirty filter means your AC will need to work harder to keep you cool. And because a dirty filter leads to improper airflow, you’ll see your energy bills go up if you don’t clean it or change the filter. Also, make sure to get your ductwork and vents cleaned every few years to keep airflow going and that will keep you breathing easy, too.
The marketplace for smart thermostats got even bigger with the launch of Carrier’s Côr™ thermostat earlier this year. If you are doing a smart thermostat comparison, there’s many to choose from – Côr™, Nest, Honeywell Lyric, etc., and we at Carrier and StayComfyMinnesota.com are here to tell you why the Côr™ Thermostat stands out above the rest.