You flip switches and tap buttons all day to utilize appliances throughout your home. How do they operate? How efficiently do they run? Considering your heating and cooling is one of the most energy-consuming systems in your house, can you save money with electric HVAC?
Your monthly electric costs depend on two variables:
- How much electricity you use each month
- The amount charged per kilowatt hour of electricity
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average household consumes around 11,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year. It also shows that heating and cooling your home can consume as much as 42 percent of that energy, with as much as 35 percent of that wasted.
There’s a lot of room for improvement. Luckily, there are solutions.
Home HVAC systems are designed for efficiency. The goal is to heat and cool a home properly while keeping it as efficient as possible.
Most HVAC systems operate using oil or gas, but an eclectic system can also do the job. You just have to know where to look. People are turning to all-electric HVAC for a variety of reasons, including:
- They don’t depend on an external fuel source, such as gas, to stay operational, making them easier to operate.
- They are safer as there is no combustion process.
- Electric furnaces will have an AFUE rating of 100 percent because no fuel is involved.
Is electric HVAC right for you?
All forced-air systems work similarly. A forced-air furnace draws air circulating throughout each room into the ductwork and back to the furnace. Once there, the air is filtered and heated. The warmed air is then pushed back into each room through additional ductwork.
While an electric forced-air system is similar to conventional gas forced-air, it produces heat with electric heating elements instead of gas burners. Think of the furnace as if it were a giant hair dryer. A blower draws air through the cabinet from the cold-air return, pushing it into a heat exchanger. The electric heating elements heat the air. The blower pushes the warmed air back into the rooms through the ductwork.
The biggest advantage of using this system is that there are no combustion fuels in the heating process, meaning it won’t give off carbon monoxide. This is good for the environment and makes the unit easier to install and operate, as there is no flue requirement to carry combustion gasses to the outside.
The Pacific Northwest isn’t known for its hot weather. Many homes throughout the region lack air conditioning because high temperatures rarely hang around for any length of time. But that’s changing. We’re seeing hotter days for longer stretches of time. That’s prompting many homeowners to think about air conditioning for the first time.
In short, central air conditioners transfer heat from a home’s interior to the warm outside environment. It does so through two actions occurring in two separate units, one inside and one outside your home.
Inside, cooling coils remove heat and humidity from the air supply using refrigerants. A compressor moves the refrigerant between the evaporator and the condenser to chill the air and then to the blower to circulate the air out into the rooms through ductwork.
In the outside unit, a similar action occurs. The refrigerant gas is compressed before entering the condenser in the outdoor unit. Heat is released outside as the refrigerant returns to its liquid form. This results in a continuous cycle of heat and humidity being removed from the inside, creating a cool, comfortable environment. Heat and humidity exit the home to provide nonstop relief while the cooled air is circulated through the home.
Heat pumps are gaining popularity, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures are more moderate. Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling for your home. In cool months, a heat pump pulls ambient heat from the cold outdoor air and transfers it indoors. In warm months, it draws the heat out of the indoor air and transfers it outside to cool your home.
Heat pumps are powered by electricity and transfer this heat using refrigerants. Because they handle both heating and cooling, you won’t have to worry about installing two separate systems to control indoor air temperatures throughout the year. They’re electric rather than gas-driven, making them more environmentally friendly.
A window air conditioner is the simplest form of an air conditioning system. It’s a single unit mounted in a window and plugged directly into an electrical outlet. It uses refrigeration properties to remove heat and humidity from a room and then circulate cooled air into the space.
Window air conditioners are typically better for smaller spaces or when you specifically need additional cooling in one room. They produce a lot of cooled air near the unit, dissipating quickly as it moves away.
An electric baseboard heater is a wide electrical heating element installed near floor level. It gets its name by covering the baseboard trim with the heating element. It’s usually hardwired into a home’s existing electrical wiring, though some can be plugged into a standard outlet.
Part of what makes these inefficient is that they are typically placed on exterior walls or under windows. Outside walls are the coldest part of the house, meaning these baseboard heaters will have to work twice as hard to keep your room warm.
You can’t solve the problem by placing baseboard heaters on interior walls, either, as you would feel constant drafts near windows and doors. The cold glass would cool the room faster than the warm air could keep up, as cool air sinks and warm air rises.
Have an all-electric home? Looking for heating and cooling options? You won’t need to worry about losing efficiency by installing electric HVAC. With so many options, your biggest question will be, “Which option should I choose?”
That’s where Entek can help. As HVAC experts, they help homeowners just like you select the best heating and cooling systems for their homes every day. If you’re located in the Portland-Vancouver area, reach out to discuss your electrical HVAC options today.
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