It is likely that more than 50 percent of your utility bills pay for the cost of heating and cooling your living space.
See below for some simple steps for maximizing your investment in heating and cooling equipment, and managing end-of-life issues.
disposing, donating and selling
Shopping for Air Conditioners
When shopping for an air conditioner, the most important cost-saving consideration is the size required to cool the space. An oversized air conditioner is actually less effective and wastes energy. Use an online calculator to choose the appropriate size air conditioner. actually less effective—and wastes energy. Use an online calculator to choose the appropriate size air conditioner.
Air conditioners with the ENERGY STAR label feature high-efficiency compressors, fan motors, and heat transfer surfaces. To merit the ENERGY STAR label, these appliances must exceed minimum federal standards for energy consumption by at least 10 percent.
Look for an air conditioner with a temperature readout and a built-in timer to allow you more control. Select the unit with the highest energy efficiency ratio (EER) or seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). The EER is the amount of heat energy removed from the house when the air conditioner is running. High-efficiency air conditioning units have EER ratings of 9.0 or above. High-efficiency central air conditioners have SEER ratings ranging from 10.0 to as high as 16.0.
Ask sales staff to demonstrate filter cleaning techniques. Keeping the filter clean will enhance the performance of the air conditioner. Remember, you can prevent waste by asking about reusable, washable filters for the unit.
back to top
Maintaining for Peak Performance
Regularly clean and change the filter on all of your heating and cooling systems. Dirt reduces the flow of air and hinders heating and cooling performance. Have your system cleaned, inspected, and tuned up by a professional service contractor every few years.
Clean fins and coils on baseboard heaters and radiators.
Insulate ducts and hot water distribution pipes
Install a programmable thermostat that can automatically turn up the temperature half an hour before you come home and turn down the temperature at night. Simple as it is, the way you use your thermostat can significantly affect your heating and cooling energy consumption. Unlike stepping on a gas pedal in a car, pushing the thermostat higher or lower does not usually make the house heat or cool any faster; it just makes the system run longer.
Programmable thermostats will also reduce toxics in your home by eliminating older thermostats that contain mercury.
It is illegal in New York State to discard consumer products that contain mercury in the trash. Recycle old mercury thermostats by taking them to a Thermostat Recycling Corportation participating location. In addition, mercury thermostats and other mercury-containing devices by taking them to any NYC Department of Sanitation Household Special Waste Drop-Off Site.
Set the thermostat at 68°F or lower in the winter and 78°F or higher in the summer. For each degree above or below these settings, 3 to 5 percent more energy is used.
Check your furnace or boiler AFUE rate. Furnaces and boilers are rated according to their “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency,” or AFUE, which is a measure of efficiency over an entire heating season. The AFUE is calculated using a formula developed by the U.S. Department of Energy. The minimum standard set by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act is 78 percent AFUE for gas and oil furnaces and 80 percent AFUE for gas and oil boilers.
Improve boiler efficiency with an electric ignition, which eliminates the need to have the pilot light burning all the time. Sealed combustion is a good option because it uses outside air to fuel the burner, reducing draft and improving safety.
Consider replacing your old air conditioner. Older air conditioners use CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), or “freon,” as a refrigerant. Because of environmental concerns, modern air conditioners use CFC replacements.
Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can be recycled by scheduling an appointment for CFC recovery and then placing the item at the curb. You can make an appointment on the Sanitation website or call 311.
Choose the right size air conditioner for your room or apartment. Air conditioners both cool and remove humidity. If the unit is too large, the room will be damp, because the air conditioner cannot effectively reduce humidity. Running a smaller unit for a longer time will actually use less energy to completely cool a room. Use an online calculator to choose the appropriate size air conditioner.
Look for an air conditioner with a temperature readout and a built-in timer to allow you more control. Remember to select the unit with the highest energy efficiency ratio (EER) or seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). The EER is the amount of heat energy removed from the house when the air conditioner is running. High-efficiency air conditioning units have EER ratings of 9.0 or above. High-efficiency central air conditioners have SEER ratings ranging from 10.0 to as high as 16.0.
back to top
Discarding, Donating, and Selling Air Conditioners
Before discarding air conditioners or other appliances that use CFC gas or Freon, you must schedule an appointment with the NYC Department of Sanitation to place these items at the curb for CFC recovery. Make an appointment on the make an appointment on the Sanitation website or call 311.
Visit nyc stuff exchange for places to donate, give away, or sell unwanted appliances, or to purchase used goods.
helpful links about energy efficiency
warranties, deliveries, and repairs
back to top | back to tips at home | back to shopping tips
Tips for your home
basement/storage | bedroom | car | kitchen | living room | yard
Tips while shopping
appliances | dry cleaner | hardware | grocery store | deli
Tips in apartment buildings
Tips for home improvements