What is The Most Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling System?

Looking for an Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling System for your home?

When it comes to heating and cooling your home, there are a number of energy-efficient options available. So, which system ranks above the rest? To answer this question, you must first understand what these systems do.

The Basic Concept of Heating and Cooling

A heating and cooling system has a simple job: the transfer of heat. Air conditioning is transferring heat out of the building during hot weather. During the winter months, heat is being produced and transferred throughout your building via the ducts. Either way, interior temperature is altered by the displacement of hot or cold air.

Very few unified systems accomplish both heating and cooling with the same equipment. Though the systems use the same ductwork for pushing air, the methods employed for heating and cooling are usually different. Frequently, a forced air furnace works alongside an air conditioning system.

A Better Alternative

The most common configuration has just been described above. There is, however, a much more efficient option that often cuts operating costs in half. If the shear use of energy were the sole consideration, the thermal heat-pump system would easily win. This employs a coolant to transfer heat either into or out of your building. An electric pump and condensing system are also used, depending on what direction the heat is flowing.

Other systems transfer heat out during the hot months. However, to provide heat during the colder months, most other systems have to generate it somehow. A thermal heat pump uses heat already in the ground.

Energy Efficiency Does Not Mean Everything

Just because a thermal system is technically the most energy-efficient, that does not mean it is the best suited for your needs. Factors like installation cost, cost to maintain and repair, operating cost, size of your building and the local climate all play a role in choosing the best option.

The team at Gilmore Heating, Air, and Plumbing⁣ has been helping residents of the Greater Sacramento area select their systems since 1979.

Professional Expertise for Your Comfort

Whether you need a new heating and cooling system, you’re looking to improve your energy savings with plumbing⁣ or you need help with a plumbing problem, Gilmore Heating, Air, and Plumbing⁣ is standing by. We perform a full range of installation, maintenance and repair, and we’ve earned over 6,000 five-star reviews and a glowing A+ rating with the BBB. Call us to today to schedule your appointment.

Checking Your Home for Air Leaks

Checking Your Home for Air Leaks Sacramento CA

Checking Your Home for Air Leaks

Air leaks in your home can have many sources, including a crack in the foundation, a hole in the attic or a door that doesn’t sit quite right against the jamb. While these leaks are certainly a kind of natural ventilation, they aren’t ideal. You probably heated or cooled that escaping air at great expense, and these leaks just make your cooling or heating system work harder.

Where Are Air Leaks in a Home Most Common?

Gilmore Heating Air and Plumbing⁣ has been helping customers throughout the Greater Sacramento area achieve proper ventilation since 1979. We’ve found that many people believe windows and doors are the main culprits when it comes to air leaks. Statistically, however, the worst culprits are floors, walls, and ceilings. The next-worst offender is the ductwork.

Checking Your Home for Air Leaks Sacramento CA 

Ductwork and Air Leaks

Inspecting, maintaining and cleaning your air ducts is important. It helps to keep your energy efficiency high and your indoor air pollution low. Energy Star estimates that about 20 percent of the air that moves through average ductwork is lost due to leaks. Leaks can be caused by shoddy installation but can also manifest over time due to wear and tear.

How Do You Check for Air Leaks in a Home?

The best way to check for air leaks in a home is to schedule a professional home energy audit explains Twin Cities MN electricians at McQuillan Bros. This will include a comprehensive examination of problem areas: floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents and more. If you’d like to conduct your own testing, a common way to do this is to burn incense after having shut down the heating and cooling system as well as any independent fans, exhausts and so forth. Note the spots that cause the smoke to drift.

Eliminate Air Leaks from Your Home

Gilmore Heating Air and Plumbing⁣ in Placerville would like to help make your home airtight and more energy-efficient. We can also discuss ways to achieve proper ventilation that won’t bloat your utility bill.

Our company offers a complete range of other services related to heating, air conditioning, electrical issues and plumbing. Contact us today to ask any questions or to schedule an appointment.

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Find Energy Savings in Your Home

Learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Saving Energy

  • Don’t let the furnace or air conditioner salesperson sell you a unit that’s much bigger than you need.
  • Do have the air ducts checked for leakage when installing a new heating and cooling system.
  • Don’t think that “since heat rises, we only need to insulate the attic.” The floors over a basement or crawlspace, walls and windows also matter.
  • Do use ceiling and portable fans to improve comfort in the cooling season. They use very little electricity and efficiently circulate air in the house. To make the house feel cooler by doing this, you can raise the thermostat setting for your air conditioner to 85F, and still maintain the same comfort as the lower setting.

Electricity Consumption – Discover the biggest users of your home’s electricity

Air Conditioning

If your home has central air conditioning, the air conditioner will most likely be the biggest user of your electricity. While it’s used only a few months a year, the annual cost of air conditioning can be much higher than the annual cost of your refrigerator, which is typically the next largest user.

In hot climates, the annual cost of air conditioning can exceed a thousand dollars. To get a rough idea of what your air conditioning costs are, do the following:

  1. Get your electric bill for a summer month when you use air conditioning.
  2. Get your electric bill in a spring month when you aren’t using air conditioning.
  3. Subtract the spring month bill from the summer month bill—this will give you your monthly cost.
  4. Multiply your monthly cost by the number of months you use your air conditioner. The answer will be your approximate annual cost for air conditioning.

Learn the Factors That Influence Your Energy Bills

Many factors can cause differences in energy bills, so comparing your bill to someone else’s is like comparing apples to oranges.

For example, the ages of your major appliances—especially refrigerators and air conditioners—can make a dramatic difference in your bill.

In addition, if your house leaks air like a sieve while your neighbor’s house was just weatherized and insulated, you will have much higher heating and cooling bills.

Other factors that can result in significant differences in bills are the number and kinds of lighting fixtures, thermostat settings for heating and cooling, the number of loads of laundry, old refrigerators out in the garage, and hobbies which result in electricity use.

Have an older home? Find out whether you should insulate or replace your furnace

Here’s how to decide whether you should insulate or replace your furnace. First, take a look at the situation in your house. Factors that will influence your decision are the age and efficiency of your furnace, and the amount of insulation currently present in the house.

Insulation is More Cost-Effective

In general, it is more cost-effective to upgrade insulation than it is to upgrade your furnace.

Older Furnaces are Worth Replacing

However, if your furnace is old and you are planning on replacing it, you might want to upgrade the furnace.

The average lifetime for a furnace is between 15 and 20 years. The efficiency of furnaces has increased over the years, so the older a furnace is, the more likely it will be inefficient.

The average efficiency of new furnaces has increased from 63% in 1972 to 98% in 2012.

Older furnaces, and furnaces which are used a lot are more cost-effective to replace than newer or infrequently used furnaces.

Insulating and Replacing the Furnace is Also Smart

Also, if you insulate your house at the time of furnace replacement, you might be able to buy a smaller capacity furnace and save money on the price. The same holds true for A/C and other heating and cooling equipment.

How Much Does It Cost to Run Your Home AC in Sacramento?

You probably have a rough idea of how much it costs to run your air conditioner, based upon how much your power bill rises during the summer months. But do you actually know how much energy your AC uses?

When you purchased your AC, it likely came with a yellow EnergyGuide sticker featuring an estimate of its yearly operating cost. However, this likely doesn’t factor in the electricity used by circulation fans. Secondly, as your air conditioner ages, it will become less efficient and require more electricity to produce the same level of comfort.

Thankfully, you can determine exactly how much it costs to run your AC by simply checking your electric meter and doing a little math.

You can determine your AC’s electricity consumption by comparing your energy usage when it’s on versus when it’s off.

Our goal here is to figure out how much electricity your air conditioner uses. We’re going to accomplish this by measuring how much electricity your home uses when the AC is running, and then see how much less you use when the AC is off. The difference between these two figures will indicate your AC’s electricity consumption.

First, you need to establish a baseline by shutting off your air conditioner, and seeing how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity your home uses. Once your AC is off, go find your electric meter.

Electric meters provide an ongoing measurement of your home’s electricity consumption. Much like the odometer of your car, it doesn’t reset. So in order to figure out how much electricity you use in a given length of time, you need to take two readings and find the difference.

You’ll need to know how to take a reading from your electric meter.

If you live in Sacramento, you likely have a smart meter installed by SMUD that looks something like this:


The display will alternate through four or so readouts. The readout you want is the one that shows “020” to the left as shown above. The larger five digit number is your home’s current total electricity consumption, as measured in kWh.

If PG&E is your energy provider, you will likely have a smart meter manufactured by Landis+Gyr or GE. Visit PG&E’s “Read a SmartMeter” page for information on how to read it. If you still have an old-style analog meter, read PG&E’s guide on reading analog electricity meters.

Regardless of what type or model of meter you have, they all work more or less the same. Once you understand how to read your meter, you can begin.

All you need to do is to write down your current energy usage. Then, wait exactly one hour, and check your meter again and write down the new energy reading.

Take your new reading, and subtract your old one from it. If your first reading was 05352, and your second was 05371, then 5371 – 5352 = 19. This means your household uses 19 kWh of electricity per hour with the AC off.

Now it’s time to figure out how much electricity your air conditioner uses.

You don’t want to do this experiment when it’s cool enough for your AC to not run. Wait until the hottest part of the day, when your air conditioner is running consistently. You may want to turn down the target temperature a bit to ensure that it stays on.

Once your AC is running, take a new meter reading. Then wait one hour, and take a second reading. Subtract the first reading from the second, as before, to see how much electricity your home uses with the AC on.

Now you should have two figures: the amount of energy your home used with the AC off, and the amount of energy used with the AC running. As an example, let’s say that we used 19 kWh when the AC was off, and 22 kWh when it was on. If we subtract ‘AC off’ figure from the ‘AC on’ figure, we find that our hypothetical air conditioner uses about 3 kWh of electricity per hour.

If you wish to obtain a more accurate measurement of your AC’s energy usage, use longer intervals for your readings. For instance, take a 3 hour baseline reading, and a 3 hour ‘AC on’ reading, subtract the former from the latter, and then divide by 3 to get the hourly AC electricity usage. This is especially useful if you have a smaller AC unit that doesn’t have a very large energy draw.

Once we know how much electricity the air conditioner uses, then we can determine how much it costs to run it.

Now, you need to identify your current electricity rate. If you have SMUD, this is pretty easy, as they’ve eliminated tiered pricing. Between June 1 and September 30—when you use your AC the most—SMUD currently charges $0.1291 (about 13 cents) per kWh. Outside of this period, SMUD charges $0.1128 per kWh.

If you have PG&E, this is trickier, as you’ll need to identify whether you’re on a tiered rate plan or time-of-use plan. You may need to refer to your electricity bill to determine this. Under a tiered plan, your rate can vary according to how much electricity you use, while time-of-use plans adjust the rate according to the time of day.

As of June 2017, PG&E charges residential tiered plan customers $0.19979 per kWh for use under your daily baseline quantity, and $0.27612 for every kWh over the threshold (up to 400% of the baseline). For time-of-use rates, refer to your PG&E statement.

Once you know how much you’re charged per kWh, take that amount and multiply it by how many kWH your AC used in one hour.

If our hypothetical AC that used 3 kWh is owned by a SMUD customer, then one hour of AC usage costs about 39 cents (3 kWh x $0.1291 = $0.3873). Keep in mind, this is how much it costs to run your AC continuously for one hour. If you set your thermostat’s target temperature higher (72 or 74 degrees, rather than 68), then your AC won’t run as much. Also, ACs cycle on and off as the temperature in your home changes, and on cooler days your AC will not run as often or as long as on hot days.

But with a little creative math, you can get a rough idea of how much your AC typically costs to run. If you leave your air conditioner on for 16 hours out of the day, and observation tells you that it runs for about half that time (50% of 16 hours), then you can take your hourly consumption cost, and multiply it by the number of hours the thermostat is on and the percentage of the time the AC runs to estimate the daily cost:

$0.3873 x 16 hours x 50% (0.5) = roughly $3.10 per day, or $92.95 per 30-day month

If you live in a particularly hot area, or you keep your home at a cooler temperature, then adjust the percentage on-time accordingly. If you think it runs about 70% of the time, then:

$0.3873 x 16 hours x 70% (0.7) = roughly $4.34 per day, or $130.13 per 30-day month

If you find that your aging air conditioner is costing you more than you realized, then it might be time to upgrade to a new energy efficient air conditioner. To find out how Gilmore can help you get your cooling costs under control, give us a call at 888-868-2316, or request a phone call with our website’s convenient appointment scheduler.