The average household spends more than $2,200 ayear on energy bills, with nearly hal o this going toheating and cooling costs. The U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA) can help you make smartdecisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and
air conditioning (HVAC) system that can help save onenergy costs, improve your overall comort at home,and help ight global warming.
Did you know the energy used in the averagehouse is responsible or twice as manygreenhouse gas emissions as the average car?
When power plants burn ossil uels to makeelectricity, they release greenhouse gases. By usingless energy at home, you help reduce the emissions
that contribute to global warming.
ENERGY STAR is the government-backed program that helps us all save money and protect our
environment with energy-eicient products andpractices. Whether you are looking orrecommendations about energy-eicient equipment,getting a quality installation, HVAC maintenance, orways to make your heating and cooling systemoperate more eiciently, EPA's ENERGY STARprogram can help.
Consider Making a Change i Any o theFollowing Statements ApplySome of your rooms are too hot or cold. Inadequate air sealing orinsuicient insulation could be the cause. No matter how eicient yourheating and cooling system is, i your home is not properly sealed andinsulated, you will not be as comortable and your system will have to workharder. Learn more about how to “Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR” onpage 12.
Your home has humidity problems, excessive dust, or rooms that neverseem to get comfortable. Leaky or poorly insulated ductwork might be thecause. See “Seal Your Heating and Cooling Ducts” on page 10.
Your equipment needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up. In addition to the rise in energy costs, the age and condition o your heatingand cooling equipment may have caused it to become less eicient. See“Maintain Your Equipment” on page 6 or “Making a Change? Choose the
Right Equipment” on page 16.
Your heating and cooling equipment is more than 10 years old. Considerreplacing it with newer, more eicient equipment. And remember, higheiciency levels begin with ENERGY STAR. See “Making a Change? Choose the Right Equipment” on page 16.
You leave your thermostat set at one constant temperature. You could bemissing a great energy-saving opportunity. You can set a programmable
thermostat to adjust your home’s temperature at times when you’re regularlyaway or sleeping. See “Use a Programmable Thermostat Properly” onpage 8.
You used EPA’s ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick (.energystar.gov/yardstick) to compare your household’s energy use to others across thecountry and your score is belo five. That means you’re using and payingor more energy at home than most Americans. Visit the ENERGY STARHome Advisor (.energystar.gov/homeadvisor) to get recommendations
or home improvement projects that will increase your score by improvingyour home’s energy eiciency and comort.
Check thermostat settings to ensure the heating and cooling system turnson and o at the programmed temperatures.
Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on
motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause your system to operateunsaely and reduce the lie o major components.
Lubricate moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause riction in motorsand increase the amount o electricity you use. Lack o lubrication can alsocause equipment to wear out more quickly, requiring more requent repairsor replacements.
Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner,
furnace, and/or heat pump (hen in cooling mode). I plugged, the draincan cause water damage in the house, aect indoor humidity levels, andbreed bacteria and mold.
Overall System Maintenance ChecklistYour contractor should complete the ollowing each spring and all:
Change your air filter regularly. A clean ilter will prevent dust and dirt rombuilding up in the system, which can lead to expensive maintenance and/orearly system ailure. Check your ilter every month, especially during winter andsummer months, when use tends to be heavier. Change your ilter i it's dirty—or at least every three months.
Tune up your HVAC equipment. Proper maintenance by a qualiied technician isone o the most important steps you can take to prevent uture problems.Contractors get busy during summer and winter months, so it is best to check the cooling system in spring and the heating system in the all. Plan the check-ups around the beginning and end o daylight-saving time each spring and all.For tips on hiring the right contractor, see page 18, “Work with a Heating andCooling Contractor.”
Check system controls to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the startingcycle o the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shutso properly.
Inspect, clean, or change the air filter in your central air conditioner, furnace,and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this yoursel.Depending on your system, your ilter may be located in the duct system versus the heating and cooling equipment itsel.
For Heating Systems:
For Cooling Systems:
Clean indoor and outdoor coils before arm eather starts. A dirty coilreduces the system’s ability to cool your home and causes the system to runlonger, increasing your energy costs and shortening the lie o your equipment.
Check your central air conditioner’s refrigerant charge and adjust it ifnecessary to make sure it meets manufacturer specifications. Too much or toolittle rerigerant charge can damage the compressor, reducing the lie o your
equipment and increasing costs.
Clean and adjust bloer components to provide proper system airflo. Properairlow over the indoor coil is necessary or eicient equipment operationand reliability.
Inspect the flue piping or rusting and any disconnections or evidence oback drating.
Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion, and heatexchanger. Improper burner operation can be caused by a dirty burner or acracked heat exchanger—either can cause the equipment to operate less saelyand eiciently. Leaking gas (or oil) connections are also a ire hazard and cancontribute to health problems.
A programmable thermostat is ideal or people who areaway rom home during set periods o time throughout theweek. Through proper use o pre-programmed settings, aprogrammable thermostat can save you about $180 everyyear in energy costs.
How Do You Choose the Right One or You?
To decide which model is best or you, think about your schedule and how otenyou are away rom home or regular periods o time—work, school, otheractivities—and then decide which o the three dierent models best itsyour schedule:
7-day models are best i your daily schedule tends to change; or example, ichildren are at home earlier on some days. These models give you the mostlexibility and let you set dierent programs or dierent days—usually with ourpossible temperature periods per day.
5+2-day models use the same schedule every weekday, and anotheror weekends.
5-1-1 models are best i you tend to keep one schedule Monday through Fridayand another schedule on Saturdays and Sundays.
Get the Greatest Beneit rom YourProgrammable ThermostatInstall your thermostat away rom heating or cooling registers, appliances,lighting, doorways, ireplaces, skylights and windows, and areas that receivedirect sunlight or drats. Interior walls are best.
Keep the thermostat set at energy-saving temperatures or long periods o time,such as during the day when no one is home and at bedtime.
Set the “hold” button at a constant energy-saving temperature when goingaway or the weekend or on vacation.
Resist the urge to override the pre-programmed settings. Every time you do, youuse more energy and may end up paying more on your energy bill.
Use a programmable thermostat or each zone o your house i you havemultiple heating and cooling zones. This will help you maximize comort,convenience, and energy savings throughout the house.
Change your batteries each year i your programmable thermostat runs onbatteries. Some units will indicate when batteries must be changed.
I you have a heat pump, you may require a special programmable thermostat tomaximize your energy savings year-round. Talk to your retailer or contractor ordetails beore selecting your thermostat.
I you have a manual thermostat, you can adjust the temperatures daily beore
you leave the house and when you go to sleep at night. Typically, adjusting temperatures 5 – 8 degrees (down in winter, up in summer) can help saveenergy i you are going to be away rom home or several hours.
Ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughouthouses with orced-air heating and cooling systems. In typical houses, about 20 percent o the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, andpoorly connected ducts. The result is an ineicient HVACsystem, high utility bills, and diiculty keeping the housecomortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.
Simple Steps to Improving Duct PerormanceBecause ducts are oten concealed in walls, ceilings, attics, and basements,repairing them can be diicult. But there are things that you can do toimprove duct perormance in your house.
Start by sealing leaks using mastic sealant or metal (oil) tape and insulatingall the ducts that you can access such as those in the attic, crawlspace,basement, or garage. Never use ‘duct tape,’ as it is not long-lasting.
Also make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealedwhere they meet the loors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to ind leaks and disconnected ductwork.
The exterior o your home—the outer walls, ceiling, windows, andloor—is called the “envelope” or “shell.” As a knowledgeablehomeowner or with the help o a skilled contractor, you can save up to20 percent on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10 percent on your total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating your home envelope. Itwill also make your home more comortable and help your heating and
cooling system run more eiciently.
To improve your home’s envelope, you can make thesechanges yoursel:
I your attic is accessible and you like homeimprovement projects, you can Do-It-Yoursel with help rom EPA’s DIY Guide toSealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR.
The Guide oers step-by-step instructionsor sealing common air leaks and addinginsulation to the attic to block heat loss inwinter and heat gain in summer.
You can also hire a contractor who will usespecial diagnostic tools to pinpoint and seal the hidden air leaks in your home. A HomeEnergy Rater can help you ind contractors that oer air sealing services in your area.
Hidden Air LeaksBe sure to look or and seal air leaks beore you install insulationbecause it perorms best when air is not moving through or around it.Many air leaks and drats are easy to ind because they are easy toeel—like those around windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics,basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these
leaks with caulk, spray oam, or weather stripping will have a greatimpact on improving your comort and reducing utility bills.
Homeowners are oten concerned about sealing their house too tightly;however, this is very unlikely in many older homes. A certain amount o resh airis needed or good indoor air quality, and there are speciications that set theminimum amount o resh air needed or a house. I you are concerned abouthow tight your home is, hire a contractor, such as a Home Energy Rater, whocan use diagnostic tools to measure your home's actual air leakage. I yourhome is too tight, a resh air ventilation system may be recommended.
Ater any project where you reduce air leakage, have a heating and cooling
technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-ired urnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. For additionalinormation on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues related to homes, such ascombustion saety, visit EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Web site at .epa.gov/iaq.
Adding InsulationInsulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.There are several common types o insulation—iberglass (in both batt andblown orms), cellulose, rigid oam board, and spray oam. Relectiveinsulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product that can helpsave energy in hot, sunny climates. When correctly installed with airsealing, each type o insulation can deliver comort and lower energy bills
during the hottest and coldest times o the year.
Insulation perormance is measured by R-value—its ability to resist heatlow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Dierent R-values arerecommended or walls, attics, basements, and crawlspaces, depending onyour area o the country. Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it, making it very important to seal air leaks beoreinstalling insulation to ensure that you get the best perormance rom the insulation.
To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic. A quick way to see i you need more insulation is to look acrossyour uncovered attic loor. I your insulation is level with or below the atticloor joists, you probably need to add more. The recommended insulationlevel or most attics is R-38 (or about 12 – 15 inches, depending on theinsulation type). In the coldest climates, insulating up to R-49is recommended.
ENERGY STAR Qualiied WindowsWindows are an important part oyour home’s envelope. ENERGY STARqualiied windows eature advanced technologies such as invisible glasscoatings, vacuum-sealed spaces illedwith inert gas between the panes,
improved raming materials, betterweather stripping, and warm edgespacers, all o which reduceundesirable heat gain and loss.
Increase savings. With more eicientwindows, you can save money anduse less energy. Installing ENERGYSTAR qualiied windows can reduce
energy bills by about 7 – 24 percentcompared to non-qualiied windows.Your estimated savings will varydepending on current heating and cooling costs in your region.
Improve comfort. ENERGY STAR qualiied windows do more than just lowerenergy bills; they keep your home’s temperature consistently comortable.During the winter, the interior glass o ENERGY STAR qualiied windows stayswarmer compared to typical windows, even when the temperature outside dips
well below reezing. In the summer, most ENERGY STAR qualiied windowsreduce the heat gain into your home, without reducing the visible light.
Protect your valuables. Drapes, wood loors, a avorite photograph: all these things can ade or discolor ater repeated exposure to direct sunlight. ENERGYSTAR qualiied windows have coatings that keep out the summer heat and actlike sunscreen or your house, protecting your valuables rom harmul, adingultraviolet light without noticeably reducing visible light.
Look for the ENERGY STAR. The ENERGY STAR guidelines or windows are tailored to our climate zones. For example, windows in the North are optimized to reduce heat loss in the winter, while windows in the South are optimized toreduce heat gain during the summer. For optimal results, select ENERGY STARqualiied windows that are appropriate or your climate zone.
I you’ve taken the steps outlined in the previous sections to improve eiciencyand you continue to experience problems, or i your HVAC system is old(10 – 15 years) or not working, consider replacing your equipment with a high-eiciency unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR. It’s a good idea to do someresearch on options or a new heating or cooling system beore your currentone breaks, so you can make an inormed decision i you need to act quickly.
How much energy you save will vary based on your use and climate, withcolder regions saving more with ENERGY STAR heating equipment and hotterregions saving more with ENERGY STAR cooling equipment.
Furnaces are the most commonly used residential heating system in theUnited States. Running most oten on gas, but sometimes on oil,propane, or electricity, urnaces deliver their heat through a ductsystem. Furnaces that have earned the ENERGY STAR have higher AFUE(Annual Fuel Utilization Eiciency) ratings. AFUE is the measure oheating equipment eiciency, represented as a percentage. Mosturnaces that can qualiy or the ENERGY STAR will be “condensing”urnaces where the transer o heat is so thorough water or condensateis a byproduct o combustion. This condensing occurs with systemsover 90 percent eicient. Another eature o eicient urnaces is ahighly eicient blower motor (commonly an ECM, ElectronicallyCommutated Motor, or another type o “advanced main aircirculating an”).
A boiler heats your home by burning gas, propane, or oil to heat water orsteam that circulates through radiators, baseboards, or radiant loor
systems. Boilers do not use a duct system. Boilers that have earned theENERGY STAR have higher AFUE ratings. Features that improve boilereiciency include electronic ignition, which eliminates the need to have the pilot light burning all the time, and technologies that extract moreheat rom the same amount o uel.
Most residential central air conditioners are called “split-systems”because they have an outdoor component with a condenser andcompressor and an indoor component with an evaporator coil. It’s veryimportant to replace both o these units at the same time. Installing a
new outdoor unit without replacing the indoor unit is likely to result inlow eiciency, and may lead to premature ailure o the system.
ENERGY STAR qualiied central air conditioners have higher SEER(Seasonal Energy Eiciency Ratio) and EER (Energy Eiciency Ratio)ratings than today’s standard models. SEER is the most commonly usedmeasurement o eiciency or air conditioners. It measures howeiciently a cooling system will operate over an entire season. EERmeasures how eiciently a cooling system will operate when the
outdoor temperature is at a speciic level (95 degrees F).The central air conditioner also needs a blower motor—which is usuallypart o the urnace—to blow the cool air through the duct system. Theonly way to ensure that your new air conditioner perorms at its ratedeiciency, is to replace your heating system at the same time. It’sespecially recommended i your urnace is over 15 years old. I youpurchase a new energy-eicient air conditioner but connect it to anolder urnace and blower motor, your system will not perorm to itsrated eiciency.
Central Air Conditioners
Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling in one integrated system.
Electric Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs). ASHPs, oten used inmoderate climates, use the dierence between outdoor and indoor air
temperatures to cool and heat. ENERGY STAR qualiied ASHPs havehigher SEER and EER ratings than conventional models. They also havea higher Heating and Seasonal Perormance Factor (HSPF), whichmeasures the heating eiciency o the heat pump.
Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHPs). GHPs are similar to air source heatpumps, but use the ground instead o outside air to provide heating,cooling, and oten water heating. Because they use the earth's naturalheat, they are among the most eicient and comortable heating and
cooling technologies currently available. Although initially expensive,you can achieve signiicant cost savings on energy bills. GHPs are mostoten installed in new homes and require a duct system.
Replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with new, energy-eicientmodels is a great start. But to make sure that you get the best perormance, thenew equipment must be properly installed. In act, improper installation canreduce system eiciency by up to 30 percent—costing you more on your utilitybills and possibly shortening the equipment’s lie.
Make sure to ask your
contractor i his or herwork meets ENERGYSTAR Quality Installationguidelines. Theseguidelines, based on theAir ConditioningContractors o America’s(ACCA) quality installationspeciication, require:
Proper Sizingo EquipmentInstalling the right size equipment or the home is essential to getting the bestperormance and comort. Many homeowners believe that bigger is alwaysbetter when buying new heating and cooling equipment. In reality, a system that’s too large will not keep your home comortable because o requent ‘on/o’cycling. Incorrect sizing can also put stress on system components and shorten the equipment’s lie. With an ENERGY STAR Quality Installation, your contractorwill make sure that you get a system that is the right size or your home.
Sealing DuctsTo help ensure that your new system delivers the heated or cooled air to all therooms o your home, contractors using ENERGY STAR Quality Installationguidelines will evaluate your duct system to identiy leaks, and then seal themusing mastic, metal-backed tape, or an aerosol-based sealant. In some
instances, your contractor may advise you that it is necessary to replace oradd ducts.
When installing your new heating and cooling equipment, your contrac-
tor should do the ollowing to ensure a quality installation:
Provide adequate room around the equipment or service and maintenance.
Install and set up a programmable thermostat (i not already in use).
Show you how to change the ilter(s).
Test and veriy proper airlow (i a urnace or heat pump).
Veriy that your urnace or boiler has been tested or proper burner operation
and proper venting o lue gases. The vent piping should be inspected or leaksor deterioration and repaired or replaced as necessary.
Install a properly matched indoor coil when replacing an outdoor unit. An oldcoil will not work eiciently with a new outdoor unit.
Conirm that the level o rerigerant charge and the airlow across the indoorcoil meets the manuacturer’s recommendation. It’s estimated that more than60 percent o central air conditioners are incorrectly charged during installation.
Place the condenser in an area that can be protected rom rain, snow, orvegetation, as speciied by the manuacturer. I you have a central airconditioning unit, cover your outside equipment during the winter to protect itrom snow and ice. Heat pumps need to be let uncovered to properly operateduring the winter.
Quality Installation Checklist
Ensuring Proper Rerigerant ChargeIncorrect rerigerant level can lower eiciency by 5 – 20 percent and canultimately cause premature component ailure, resulting in costly repairs. Withan ENERGY STAR Quality Installation, your contractor will veriy that thererigerant level in the system is correct.
Optimizing Air FlowI air low in your heating and cooling system is too high or too low, you mayexperience comort problems and higher utility bills. With an ENERGY STARQuality Installation, your contractor will test air low and make any neededadjustments or optimal perormance.
When purchasing heating and cooling equipment, choosing energy-eicientproducts is a step in the right direction. However, asking the right questions o
your contractor and making sure your equipment is properly sized and installedare also important elements to ensure that your new system perorms atoptimal eiciency.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency encourages everyone to save
money and ght global warming through energy-ecient products and
practices. Learn more at energystar.gov.
JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL wARMING: TAKE THE ENERGY STAR PLEDGE.Post this checklist where it can be a daily reminder to save energy, save money,and help ght global warming with ENERGY STAR. Then go to energystar.gov/ changetheorld and tell us the steps you plan to take.
AT HOME, I PLEDGE TO:
Change a Light: Replace at least one light in my home with an ENERGY STARqualied one. Buy ENERGY STAR qualied holiday lights.
Choose ENERGY STAR qualied products: TV, DVD player, home theater in abox (sound system), clothes washer, dishwasher, rerigerator.
Choose ENERGY STAR qualied equipment or my home oce: computer,monitor, multi-unction device, ax, ink-jet printer.
Enable my ENERGY STAR computer and monitor to sleep while I’m away.
Set or program my thermostat to save energy while I’m asleep or awayrom home.
Have my heating and cooling equipment tuned-up by a proessional and
change my air lter.Seal obvious leaks and repair disconnections in my home’s duct system.
Seal my home’s envelope (outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and foors)with caulk, spray oam, and weather stripping, and add insulation to the attic.
AT wORK, I PLEDGE TO:
Use a power strip as a central turn o point or all my oce equipment to
completely disconnect rom the power supply.
Unplug electronics once they are charged.
Keep air vents clear o paper, les, and oce supplies.
Create a Green Team with my co-workers to help build support orenergy eciency.
Talk to my boss about earning EPA’s ENERGY STAR or our building.