A home that operates efficiently isn't just better for the environment.
Ensuring your home systems are as efficient as possible can also help reduce the
financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year.
These tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services can serve as areas of
focus for lowering your energy bills and lessening your appliances' negative
impact on the environment.
The cost of heating water for bathing, laundry and kitchen use is a common home
energy drain, so it's an area that deserves attention when you're looking to
upgrade for efficiency. To reduce energy use from your hot water heater, try
taking shorter showers and switching to cold water for some washing machine wash
and rinse cycles. Other options include turning down the thermostat on your
heater, adding insulation or purchasing a newer, more efficient model.
Heating and Cooling
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as 40 percent of a home's
energy expenses come from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
system, also known as the heating and cooling system. Like appliances and other
mechanical features of your home, over time, the heating and cooling system
becomes less efficient. Regular seasonal service like appropriately changing out
the air filter can help ensure your system performs at its best, but once its
life expectancy has passed, a new unit is usually the more cost-effective
solution in the long run.
Understanding your options is important because these systems represent a
meaningful investment. There are a lot of potentially overwhelming options and
you want to be sure you get the right system for your home. A consultation with
an expert, such as those you can find at JCPenney Home Services, can help you
determine the proper size and functions necessary to effectively manage your
home's climate, as well as assist in exploring the latest technologies and
products. For example, heat pumps, which were once reserved for more moderate
climates, are now a cost-efficient solution for homes where temperatures dip
Another option that is relatively new but growing in popularity is known as a
mini-split system. These systems let you customize the temperature settings in
various spaces, enhancing personal comfort and allowing you to focus your energy
use on the parts of your home that need it most. Learn more about these and
other energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions at
While servicing or replacing an HVAC system may be the obvious change when it
comes to conserving energy, you can also see reductions by using an upgraded
thermostat, such as a "smart" or connected model. These devices can help you
monitor the temperature setting in your home while maximizing efficiency. For
example, a connected thermostat that's synced to your smartphone may allow you
to adjust temperature settings when away from home. This way, if you forget to
bump the air conditioner up a few degrees while you're gone more than a few
hours, you can log-in remotely and set an appropriate temperature.
A great deal of energy is lost through cracks, holes and faulty seals. Take time
to assess all windows, doors and openings for air leaks, adding caulking or
weather stripping where needed. Don't overlook culprits like openings around
lighting and plumbing fixtures, switch plates and other electrical elements.
Also assess potential losses from the fireplace, attic, garage and crawl spaces,
where it's common that less attention is given to thorough sealing, and
determine whether additional insulation can help contain energy.
Take Control of Your Climate
Managing your home's climate control is typically no small task or small
expense. These options offer flexibility and efficiency.
Heat pumps pull from the ground or outside air temperature to both heat your
home in the winter and cool it in the summer. Since heat pumps move heat instead
of generating it, they're energy-efficient year-round.
Hybrid systems or combination systems combine elements of both a furnace and
heat pump. The more efficient heat pump runs until the outside air temperature
falls below a certain level, at which point the system automatically switches
the heat source to the furnace. This option is more expensive up front, but can
generate significant savings in terms of monthly utility bills long-term.
Ductless systems are a flexible, efficient choice for homeowners looking for
simple solutions. These systems can be easily mounted on the wall or ceiling,
and don't require ductwork, making them ideal for a converted attic space or
Understanding HVAC Efficiency Ratings
An HVAC system can be rated in a number of different ways. While some of these
ratings may be confusing, it is helpful to understand what they mean.
AFUE: An Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is important if you
are purchasing an oil or gas furnace. The AFUE rating measures the amount of
fuel used to heat your home against the amount of fuel wasted. A higher rating
indicates a more efficient system. The more efficient your system, the less fuel
it takes to heat your home, which translates into lower heating bills during the
SEER: The higher the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the more efficient
your system and the less it will cost to heat and cool your home. Federal
regulations require all new HVAC systems to have a SEER rating of 13 or higher.
HSPF: The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) measures the efficiency of
a heat pump when it is used to heat a home. A higher rating indicates greater
efficiency and greater monthly savings on energy bills. New HVAC units are
required to have a rating of 7.7 or higher.