Smart Air Conditioner Kits Chill Your Bill

It’s official…the last decade is the hottest ever…since records have been kept, anyway.  The National Climate Assessment was released by US Scientists last week…and it says that temperatures are likely to rise another two to four degrees Farenheit over the next few decades.

So…ready to make better friends with your air conditioner?  Here are a couple of new gadgets to help you manage your indoor climate control system.  There’s a new and free gadget some US local energy companies are offering that will help some consumers save up to 25 percent on their energy bills this Summer.

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The cost of cooling down the house averages almost $400 for the hot season from June to August for typical U.S. family.   The painful part is that for every degree that anyone lowers the AC thermostat to make their home cooler, the resulting rise in energy costs is about $24…according to Con Edison… the largest local utility in New York.

Two kinds of new smart devices now available to consumers can help you turn that challenge around in your favor.  One is for room air conditioners…the other for central climate control systems.

  • Room/Window Air Conditioners –  Thinkeco smart AC kit connects to the window AC unit…allowing you to turn off the AC with their phone, even when they’re away from home and have forgotten to turn it up or off.
  • Central Air ConditionersNest which lets homeowners control their central air so he can see how much he is using and spending daily.

Many consumers claim that the gadgets have saved them an average of $75 a month for more than a year now.

Direct Energy, one of the largest suppliers of gas and electricity in North America, is now offering rebates on the Nest thermostat in Ohio and Illinois, with New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to come.  But if your local energy provider doesn’t yet offer anything similar, you can be proactive and purchase a kit online for about $140.  It pays for itself in a little more than a summer season.

Note for PG&E customers: PG&E has their own version of a “Smart AC” program that’s more geared to reducing consumption only during summer energy supply emergencies.  But who says you can’t combine it with your own energy program that includes the smart devices above?

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How Valuable is a Well Insulated Home?

The best way to make your home more energy efficient and save money on your home energy bills is to increse it’s insulation. Targeting your home’s exterior—walls, windows, doors, floors and attic is the starting point for the most effective strategy for improving household energy efficiency. The better insulated and air tight your home is…the more effective each unit of heat is in creating a comfortable living environment for your family. [See this detailed diagram on Where to Insulate in a Home from the US Dept. of Energy]

In fact, passive homes are those that are so well insulated and air tight that all they need is the sun, body heat (humans:), appliances and a little heat recovery…no furnace necessary! So it’s very possible to have the insulation aspect of a house so well handled that worrying about heating bills becomes a thing of the past.

When you’re considering heat loss, homes can be grouped into 3 types:

  • Leaky homes – have solid walls, poor loft insulation, uninsulated floors, single glazed windows and lots of drafts. Because of all this…it needs 300 kilowatt-hours of heating for each square meter of space per year (kWh/m2a) just to stay warm.
  • Modern homes – have insulation in wall cavities and lofts, insulated floors, double glazing and some draft excluders. Because it has better insulation…it only needs half the heating of the leaky house, 150 kWh/m2a, to maintain a similar internal temperature.
  • Passive homes – have excellent materials in all insulation types, triple glazed windows that face the equator to maximize solar gains, and is so air tight it uses a ventilation system to keep the air fresh. It needs just 15 kWh/m2a of heating, some of which comes from heat recovery in the ventilation system.

What’s the bottom line in annual heating costs?  The leaky home’s heating bill might be $1,500 a year, $750 for the modern and $100 for the passive house.

How can you put this information to good use for your own Home?  Unfortunately, investing in good insulation makes most sense when building a new home or doing a major remodel.  Retrofits require real talent if they’re going to be cost effective.  Nevertheless,  if you’re a home owner…many types of insulation are a worthy investment. The colder your climate and the higher your fuel costs the better the paybacks are…and the more it makes sense.

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