By Diane, Pacific Aire Comfort Advisor,
When you lower the cooling load in your home before installing a new air conditioner or heat pump, you're doing more than making your home energy efficient. You might be able to install a smaller air conditioner, costing you less initially and ultimately lowering your monthly electric bills
HVAC contractors use a method called Manual J to determine the size of the air conditioner you need. The various inputs include factors such as insulation levels, the amount of heat gain that comes from your windows and air infiltration rates.
You can use the results from the Manual J calculation to improve these aspects of your home:
- Insulation. Adding insulation to your attic, for instance, lowers the cooling load by keeping the hot air in the attic from entering your home through the ceiling. The Department of Energy recommends that attics in our area have at least 12 inches of batt or blown-in insulation.
- Windows. Energy star-rated or thermal windows go a long way in keeping your home cooler in the summer, because they block the heat before it enters your home. You can also use shade screens that can stop up to 90 percent of the heat from entering your home.
- Air infiltration. Plugging the holes where air enters your home lowers your home's cooling load. You can use caulk, fresh weatherstripping or expanding foam for cracks around window frames, door frames or holes that exist around pipes, cables and wires that enter your home.
- Ductwork. The age of your home doesn't matter when it comes to leaky ducts, which can drive up the cost of conditioning your home throughout the year. Before your HVAC contractor installs a new HVAC system, be sure that he or she assesses your ducts and seals any leaks with mastic, not duct tape.
- Lighting. Lighting is another factor that Manual J considers. When you switch to CFL or LED bulbs, you lower the amount of heat produced in your home.
If you'd like to learn more about lowering your cooling load, contact us at Pacific Aire Heating & Cooling. We've been providing HVAC services for the Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Fernando and Santa Clarita areas since 1990.