The utility room houses the entire home’s utility controls. In this room you can expect to find the most energy intensive appliances in your home - your furnace, air conditioning, water heater, washer and dryer. With all of these heat producing appliances, your utility room is likely the warmest and largest consumer of energy in your home. Home heating accounts for approximately 60% of your energy costs, while cooling accounts for nearly 5%, and water heating about 20%, depending on the climate you live in. If you are looking to save energy and money, this is the room to start with. Even turning your settings on your thermostat and water heater back slightly can have a great impact on your energy usage.
The most important thing to consider with your heating and cooling system is its size. If you are building a new home or renovating, you should have a professional HVAC company measure your home for its living area in order to determine the appropriate sized furnace and air conditioner for your home. An oversized unit will result in spending more money at the onset of building, while an undersized unit will operate more frequently, resulting in increased cost and energy use as a result of operating inefficiently.
Aside from the different size options available to homeowner for heating and cooling, there are also a number of different options for the type of energy used. For heating your home, you can choose from propane, kerosene, heating oil, natural gas, electricity and good old fashioned wood. Those are the most common. However, there is also radiant floor heat, which is typically associated with newer homes, as well as full-scale boiler systems. Each of these has their own set of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to energy use and cost. For more information on heating your home, please visit our furnace page.
When it comes to cooling, there are also a number of choices available to homeowners. Convection units run cool water through piping in the floor, much like radiant flooring for heating. This is more common in newly built homes than older homes for obvious reasons. Most home built pre-2000 that have an air conditioning unit would have either central air conditioning that cools air in one places and spreads the air through the house using the same ventilation system used to heat your home. The final alternative would be window air conditioning units, used most often in homes not equipped with central air conditioning. Window air conditioning units work well for cooling areas that get the hottest, but are less efficient than central air and convection units.
No matter what choice you make, keeping the units clean and using the correct size will ensure you are getting the most out of your cooling appliance. And just because you have an air conditioning unit doesn’t mean your search for efficiency should stop there. Ceiling fans are a great investment to help circulate air; they are low energy consumers and can save you money over extended periods of time. For more information on the various types of air conditioning units available, please see our Air Conditioning page.
A home’s water heater is one of the most energy intensive appliances in the house. Most people use natural gas to heat their hot water, but solar hot water systems are fast becoming more popular, especially in sunny regions such as California. Setting the thermostat on your heater is critical as well, since your hot water heater turns on and off automatically all day and night, even when you are not using any hot water. If set incorrectly, your water heater could be costing you money.
If you are looking for a replacement for your furnace, air conditioning unit or hot water tank, perhaps the best option is to get a professionally installed geo-thermal unit. These units can function as a heater, air conditioner and hot water heater all in one. Its green credentials are excellent since it makes use of the temperature difference between the inside of your home and the temperature of the ground 10 ft – 30 ft below your home or yard. For energy saving tips, visit each of the appliance pages listed below.