There’s plenty of Gremlins that are hidden in your house that keep your energy bills higher than they should be and cause hot rooms and temperature differences despite efforts to save be energy efficient at home. These home energy Gremlins remain hidden from view but are counteracting the positives of energy upgrades you may have tried like using a time of use plan or replacing your windows or air conditioner. If you have seen lack luster results from your energy saving efforts, start looking for these Home Energy Gremlins.
A specialty contractor takes the point of view of that everything is a nail and they are the hammer. The problem with this is that homeowners looking to reduce their energy bills or fix comfort problems will likely be disappointed from this approach because these problems aren’t often fixed with just one approach, be it solar, windows, insulation, Aerosealing or radiant barrier and solar attic fans. Our energy auditors have seen all too often homes that have plenty of insulation in the attic by an insulation contractor, Aerosealing done by an air conditioning contractor or new windows installed by a window contractor and the results fall far short of the promised results. Sometimes the contractors just don’t know the best way to truly upgrade a home is a whole home approach and education. Other times contractors are over ambitious in their savings and product estimates. When push comes to shove, there is no way to know what a home needs until a whole home energy audit is done by a qualified company.
A home could have all the right upgrades- new windows, spray foam in the attic, a tight house and duct system and even a new AC unit on, but putting the wrong sized HVAC system on the home is an energy Gremlin that could turn in real ugly real fast. Too big a system and the air conditioner will turn on and shut off like a kid who’s had too much candy and can’t sit still, we call it short cycling. An air conditioner that short cycles wastes a ton of energy because these boys spike in energy use just to turn on, almost ten times the energy is used to turn the AC unit on as it takes to run it at a steady state. At start up, a compressor has to immediately move a lot of refrigerant through the unit and compressors need extra torque to overcome higher pressure sitting on the compressor cylinder head at startup. The load calculations we have done to determine the proper air conditioner size in Phoenix reveal about half of the systems we look at are oversized. I love putting a smaller and properly sized air conditioner on a home but that is the topic for a different post.