Take it from the Pros
RICHARDSON, TEXAS (Sept. 29, 2009) —Improving a home's energy efficiency doesn't have to be a big or expensive undertaking, based on the findings of a recent survey of home heating and cooling professionals. According to the survey conducted by Lennox — a leading provider of customized home comfort systems and indoor air quality products—changing air filters on a regular basis, turning off lights when they're not needed, and programming the thermostat are the top three things heating and cooling professionals do to make their own homes more energy efficient.Turn off lights when away from the house (67 percent)Program the thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature at night or when away from the home (58 percent)Seal or add weather-stripping around exterior doors and windows (49 percent)Add extra insulation to the attic (45 percent)Make sure laundry room and kitchen appliances are clean and free of dust or lint (36 percent)
In fact, 85 percent of heating and cooling contractors said they change air filters on a regular basis to improve their home's energy efficiency. "A dirty air filter can reduce airflow, making the heating and cooling system work harder to warm or cool the home, and that not only wastes energy but also shortens the lifespan of the system," said Ken Ely, a home heating expert with Lennox. "Cleaning or replacing the air filter once a month will help make the system more efficient."
Other things home heating and cooling contractors do to make their homes more energy efficient:
Aging Heating Systems Lead to Frequent Repairs and Higher Costs
When asked what is the one piece of advice they would give to other homeowners for lowering their utility bills and making their homes more energy efficient, more than half of heating and cooling contractors (54 percent) said they would recommend replacing older equipment with newer, more energy-efficient products.
According to the Lennox survey, nearly half of the heating systems (47 percent) that are checked on service calls are between 11 and 15 years old, and another 22 percent are 16 years old or older.
"Older heating systems typically consume more energy than newer units, which means higher utility bills for homeowners," said Ely. "Older systems also have to be repaired more often, which can also hit consumers in the pocketbook."
When to Repair or Replace a Broken Heating and Cooling System
According to Ely, the average lifespan for a typical heating system is between 12 and 15 years. If the system is less than 12 years old, an annual check-up can significantly increase the system's performance and extend the life of the unit, yet only 53 percent of the professionals surveyed said their service calls are related to routine maintenance.
If the system is more than 12 years old, Ely recommends homeowners consider replacing a furnace or boiler with a new ENERGY STAR-qualified system.
"A common misconception among many consumers is that repairing an older system will save them more money than replacing it altogether, but that's typically not the case when you factor in the likelihood of additional breakdowns and the energy costs associated with operating older systems," said Ely. "The reality is that replacing an older system can save time, money, and headaches" and keep you warmer and more comfortable in the long run."
Bigger Isn't Always Better When It Comes to Buying a New Heating and Cooling System
According to the survey, the most common misconceptions people have when shopping for new heating and cooling equipment, according to installing contractors:
Bigger is always better when it comes to the size of the system (39 percent)Repairing a system will save more money than replacing a system (24 percent)Brand and/or price point doesn't matter (18 percent)Green products are more expensive (7 percent)Other (12 percent)
"A correctly sized heating and cooling system is crucial to the efficiency of the system," said Ely. "An oversized system will cost more to operate and may actually lower one's comfort. In fact, a system that is too large for the home will cycle on and off more frequently than properly sized units, running up utility bills." Likewise, Ely said that if the unit is too small, it will run too often and may be unable to cool or heat the home sufficiently.
When shopping for a new heating or cooling system, Ely recommends homeowners consult with a reputable home heating and cooling contractor who can assess their specific comfort needs and recommend an energy-efficient system that is appropriately sized for the home.
For more tips for maintaining heating and cooling equipment, and advice for purchasing new equipment, consumers can contact their local Lennox dealer.
The online survey was conducted by Lennox Industries among 330 heating and cooling contractors within the United States between July and August 2009. Percentages may not add up to 100 due to multiple responses.
About Lennox Industries
Lennox Industries is a leading provider of customized home comfort systems and indoor air quality products that are designed to deliver customized comfort, efficiency and functionality, with the most innovative and reliable features available. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have selected Lennox as an ENERGY STAR Manufacturer of the Year four out of six years for its outstanding contribution to developing and promoting energy-efficient products. For more information about Lennox home comfort products, visit www.Lennox.com
or call 1-800-9-LENNOX.
For more information, contact: