Thursday, September 10, 2009

The GREEN Home - What is SEER? EER? and HSPF?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is most commonly used to measure the efficiency of a central air conditioner. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the system. SEER measures how efficiently a cooling system will operate over an entire season. In technical terms, SEER is a measure of equipment the total cooling of a central air conditioner or heat pump (in Btu) during the normal cooling season as compared to the total electric energy input (in watt-hours) consumed during the same period.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is a measure of how efficiently a cooling system will operate when the outdoor temperature is at a specific level (95oF). The higher the EER, the more efficient the system. In technical terms, EER is the steady-state rate of heat energy removal (i.e. cooling capacity) by the product measured in Btuh divided by the steady-state rate of energy input to the product measured in watts. This ratio is expressed in Btuh/watt.

Both SEER and EER are included in the ENERGY STAR specification because each rating indicates the energy efficiency of the product under different operating modes. SEER rating more accurately reflects overall system efficiency on a seasonal basis and EER reflects the system’s energy efficiency at peak day operations. Both ratings are important when choosing a product.

Heat Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is the most commonly used measure of a heat pumps heating efficiency. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heat pump.In technical term, HSPF represents the total heating output of a heat pump (including supplementary electric heat) during the normal heating season (in Btu) as compared to the total electricity consumed (in watt-hours) during the same period. HSPF is based on tests performed in accordance with AHRI 210/240 (formerly ARI Standard 210/240)1.


For more information on going GREEN, visit the Green Home Guide.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

The GREEN Home - 6 Things You Can Do NOW!

"Going Green" is no longer just a slogan, it's becoming a strategic imperative for those who are concerned about what energy means for our future and our environment. Most companies and households are looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption, while seeking suppliers/products that offer energy-efficient solutions to the environmental impact of their energy needs.

Too often we think that it is too expensive, but going green doesn't have to break the bank! There are baby-steps you can take in your existing home that will make a difference. Here are 6 AFFORDABLE things you can do NOW to reduce your energy consumption starting at home:

1 - Change your air filter – A clogged filter blocks airflow, preventing the air you’ve already paid to heat or cool from reaching you, which means your system must work harder to reach your desired temperature. Replace your filters monthly during peak seasons.
2 - Check for leaks – You could be losing 25% of your homes air through leaks and holes. Why spend money heating or cooling your attic? In the summer, check for leaks by feeling around ductwork with you’re A/C on. If you feel cold air, seal the leak with aluminum tape (not fabric duct tape, which will rot). Pay special attention to duct connections around junctions and any dampers installed by previous homeowners.
3 - Dial it up or down a few degrees – Each degree you raise your thermostat above 78º in the summer or below 70º in the winter can make a difference in your energy bill. To dial in the perfect temp, try placing a piece of tape over the temperature readout on your thermostat, then keep adjusting until you’re comfortable. You’ll likely find you can stand it a few degrees warmer or cooler than you thought. (Fix any leaks in your home first so you’re not wasting air.)
4 - Install a ceiling fan – A ceiling fan doesn’t actually change the temperature of a room, but it does make it feel hotter or cooler by moving the air around, creating a windchill effect in the summer and circulating rising warm air in the winter.
5 - Balance your airflow – If one room seems consistently warmer or cooler than others, try keeping all your interior doors open so air can move freely around rather than constantly adjusting your thermostat. If you want an advanced project, install manual duct dampers to change the airflow to certain rooms. Just cut the duct, insert the damper, and tape it in place. Put them close to junctions and in easy-to-access locations.
6 - Manage your windows – Close curtains or blinds of south-and west-facing windows in the summer to reduce solar heating and keep your home cooler. Open them in the winter for the opposite effect. For windows without curtains or blinds, consider installing sunshades or reflective film to achieve a similar effect. And check your windows for leaks: missing or damaged weather-stripping can have you air-conditioning the countryside!
For help on "going GREEN" in your home, contact a real estate professional at