How HVAC Control Systems Help

A great way to improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems is to incorporate control strategies that ensure systems are used only when necessary. Common control strategies include ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostats, multiple zones, and CO2 demand sensors. These strategies can be specified on new heating and cooling systems and retrofitted to older systems as well.

  • ENERGY STAR Qualified Programmable Thermostats: These simple, easy to install thermostats allow convenient night/weekend setback to save you money. Models range from $50 to $200 depending on the desired features and usually include manual overrides to ensure comfort for late night workers.
  • Multiple Zones: By dividing your facility up into multiple heating and cooling zones, your system can deliver more efficient heating and cooling by eliminating inaccuracies from a central sensor point. In addition, building occupants in different areas can adjust the temperature to meet their actual needs. If your facility has many rooms or floors, multiple zones are recommended.
  • Demand or CO2 Sensors: Most heating and cooling systems draw in ventilation air by assumed occupancy, however modern technology has side-stepped this by designing systems that actually can regulate the air quality of your facility by measuring the amount of CO2 present. The result is more energy-efficient operation and better air-quality.

What to do to Maintain Your HVAC

Just like your automobile, your facility’s heating and cooling systems need maintenance to operate efficiently. To improve efficiency and help ensure reliability and long life, consider the following tips.

  • Engage a qualified HVAC firm in a maintenance contract with seasonal tune-ups. During these tune-ups, a technician should check combustion efficiency, refrigerant charge, and belt tension as applicable.  Check NextDoor, the BBB website, Yelp, and other websites to find a good technician.
  • Replace air filters regularly. Accumulated dirt and dust make your fans work harder. Clean or replace filters as recommended by your system’s manufacturer.
  • Clean the evaporator and condenser coils on your heat pump, air-conditioner, or chiller. Dirty coils inhibit heat transfer; by keeping them clean, you save energy.  Instructions for how to clean the coils should be available on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Inspect ducts and piping for leakage or damaged insulation. Leaky ductwork is one of the biggest contributors to cooling loss in buildings. Apply duct sealer, tape, and insulation as needed.  There are a number of how to videos and articles on how to find those leaks in your AC duct work.

Load Reduction

One of the first steps you should consider before upgrading your heating and cooling system is to reduce your load (i.e. how much heating and cooling you actually use). Reducing the load allows existing systems to operate less frequently and newer systems to be designed smaller, thereby lowering operating costs. Common load reduction strategies include:

  • Installing energy-efficient windows such as ENERGY STAR qualified windows
  • Upgrading lighting systems, Energy-efficient lighting systems emit less heat into conditioned space than older inefficient technology (read about our LED Exchange Program)
  • Selecting efficient office equipment and consumer electronics to reduce heat output.
  • Controlling ventilation to improve occupant comfort and save energy.
  • Keeping upstairs rooms cool with fans.
  • Shut out the sun to keep your home or office cooler by closing drapes or blinds.
  • Lighten up the interior: pale colors for walls can help reflect light and can reduce the number of lamps needed to light a room
  • Seal door and window cracks
  • Regularly replace heating and cooling filters
  • Don’t leave the lights on
  • Schedule maintenance on your home or office’s major systems to make sure they are running smoothly

Once you have addressed these areas, you can then make the most of your heating and cooling equipment dollars.

LED Light Exchange Program

led-bulbsIf you are a Georgetown Utility Systems (GUS) electric customer, we would like to invite you to try LED light bulbs for free!  Through the LED Exchange Program, GUS electric customers can trade-in 4 incandescent or 4 CFLs for 4 LED lights (10w) up to four times per calendar year at the Georgetown Municipal Complex (GMC).

Just stop by the GMC building to receive your free LED light bulbs.  There is a short request form you will need fill out when you get there, or if you would like to fill it out at home and bring it in, you can download it here. Remember to bring your old bulbs with you for proper recycling.

The Georgetown Municipal Complex is located at 300-1 Industrial and is open 8 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday except for scheduled holidays.

TIP – Take It Outside

After washing your clothes, save energy by hanging them outside to dry!

Clothes dryers are among the biggest energy hogs in a typical household.

Air drying your washed clothes, instead of putting them in your loud, energy sucking, house-heating electric dryer is a great way to save energy … and it is making a comeback.

People talk about recovering the lost art of line-drying clothes idea the way our grandparents did it, but the ease and efficiency of modern technology is enticing.  It may help to consider the other advantages of line-drying:

  • You don’t have to hang around the house to pull out the clothes and fold them before they wrinkle (or set the timer for 4 hours of tumble).  After drying, line dried clothes are ready anytime.
  • Clothes last longer because they don’t get overheated, which can lead to the shrinking of some things (pants) and the stretching out of others (anything with elastic.)
  • Rather than using detergents, whose chemical scents most often fall short of the fresh air they are trying to simulate, with line-dried clothes, you have the real thing!

Air drying your wash uses no electricity, and can be as easy as hanging a cord between two trees or as complicated as installing the big, spinning, pole-mounted one that looks like a huge TV antenna.

Of course, line-drying your clothes may cut down on the electric energy you use, but what about the extra energy needed from you?

The secret is to handle each piece of clothing as little as possible.  One way this can be done is by hanging your clothes on plastic hangers, right out of the washer, while they are still wet and hanging the hangers on the clothesline…even those pieces that don’t usually hang on coat hangers, like your leotards and superhero capes.  Smaller items, like socks and underwear can be placed on a drying rack.  This aids in drying and keeping the wrinkles out, as well as avoiding the little indention’s that the clothes pins can leave in some of the clothes.

Once the clothes are dry, you just grab the hanging clothes and move them to a closet.

FAQ Solar Process

Are you thinking of going solar?

It is a big investment, So be prepared to do your research!

Start with a process of education and understanding before you make the move to sign a solar contract. Knowing the process ensure that you sign a contract that is right for you.

Start by understanding your current monthly energy needs and how it may change in the future. Consider how much you would like to offset with solar. Also, network and seek advice from family, friends and neighbors who have experience with going solar. Armed with information, you can now evaluate if solar is right for you and how much solar energy you will need.

Once you have decided to go solar there are several things that need to take place.

1. Obtain Your Energy Use

Signing up for GUARD through Georgetown Utility Systems will help you learn about energy management and consumption. GUARD is your online source to obtain your last 12 months of energy use. Equipped with your account number log on and answer the questions. When moving forward, the actual annual energy production in kWh (kilowatt hours) is the maximum amount of energy production allowed for a solar system on your home. Smaller solar systems may be of any size you choose.

2. Energy Efficiency

Creating energy efficiency inside the home is also an important step before going solar. Reducing your energy needs is typically more cost effective than going solar; and reducing your energy use also means you can install a smaller, less costly solar system.

3. Consider Your Purchasing Options

This is a big decision – evaluate your options carefully. Will you own the solar system or lease the solar system. They all have different financial impacts on your bottom line.

4. Hiring the Solar Contractor

Qualified contractors are your key to getting the most productive solar energy system for your home or business, talk to three (3) or more contractors before making a decision! Contractors will evaluate factors that affect your PV system performance such as the roof size, orientation of the system, shading and other factors. Typically, the contractor will complete the paperwork and apply the City of Georgetown Permit and Solar Interconnection package on your behalf. The contractor will work with you until the utility provides approval for you to turn the system on.

5. City of Georgetown Permit Requirement

All solar systems that are installed to offset energy use in your home or business are “grid-tied” and must receive a City of Georgetown permit and final permit approval before the system may be turned on. The contractor usually takes care of this for you. This is one of two approvals that are required before you obtain Permission to Operate.

6. Interconnection Requirements

In addition to the permit, all solar systems that are installed to offset energy use in your home or business are grid-tied and must have a Georgetown Solar Interconnection approval inspection before the system may be turned on. The contractor usually takes care of this for you. This is the second of the two approvals that are required before you obtain permission to operate.