Ease the Indoor Comfort Guilt: You Deserve it!



Every so often, we indulge… at restaurants, on vacations, and even on shoes! But when it comes to maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature:


  • How often do you sacrifice comfort in your home?
  • Why do you feel guilty about cooling down or heating up your house?
  • Is that little voice in your head telling you that you may be spending too much to heat or cool your home?


Let's dig deeper! 


The Monthly Energy Bill

Did you know that your utility costs may have risen nearly 21% in 10 years?1
Energy costs probably have a lot to do with why you are sacrificing indoor comfort. The rate you pay for utilities is one of the obvious factors that contribute to your total monthly energy bill. This is especially true if extreme temperatures are making your heating or cooling system work overtime to maintain a consistent level of indoor comfort.
When was the last time you looked at the rate you pay for gas or electricity? The rate you pay for gas or electricity combined with the amount you consume each month is the one-two punch that can cause a higher than necessary utility bill each month.
Depending on where you live, you may have options when choosing your energy supplier. Some areas allow eligible consumers to pick and choose which supplier or provider and the plan that seems best for them. According to the American Coalition of Competitive Energy Suppliers, “Today’s energy choice programs allow eligible customers to shop around and choose an electric/natural gas supplier that best suits their needs. That supplier may be the utility or one of the many suppliers licensed to market in the consumer’s area.”2

Ease the Guilt with Energy-Efficiency

Even with the best possible rate plan, you may still be paying too much for your monthly bill if the energy you are buying is wasted. The efficient use of energy, or more commonly known as energy-efficiency, may help ease your guilt and monthly spending at the same time!
Heating and cooling equipment can use large amounts of energy so you should be aware that an older unit may be costing you in energy efficiency and more money on monthly bills.

The Energy-Efficiency of your Home

Nearly every home has one or more doorways, windows, air ducts or other "holes" in the wall with the potential to leak heated or conditioned air. The Department of Energy says that the average home may have air leaks that can add up that of a two-foot hole!3 That’s like leaving a window open 24-hours a day.
Weather stripping and caulking may help seal small areas where conditioned or heated air can potentially escape. So what else can a homeowner do? It may be time to have your home inspected!
When there isn’t enough insulation in the walls, crawl spaces, attic or basement, air can leak into and out of your home. Properly insulating your home may reduce heating and cooling costs, and improve your indoor comfort.
Insulation is often measured in the R-value: the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating properties.4 Ideally, your insulation should provide complete and uniform coverage. If you notice drafts, even after you’ve closed all of the doors and windows, it may be a good time to have your home evaluated by your licensed HVAC professional.

The Energy-Efficiency of your HVAC Equipment

The overall energy efficiency of your home’s structure is only one piece of the puzzle to reducing your energy bill and indoor comfort guilt. If your home is properly sealed and insulated, outdoor temperatures may still test the performance of your home’s heating or cooling equipment. The more efficient the performance of your equipment, the less energy it will use to operate. That may save you money and some of the guilt of setting your thermostat or control system to your perfect indoor temperature.

Energy Costs and HVAC Maintenance

Luckily, improvements in heating and cooling technology have resulted in higher energy efficiency ratings for new indoor comfort systems. For example, switching to a more energy-efficient gas furnace that can reach upwards of 98% AFUE means nearly all of the energy from the fuel is effectively used to heat the home. When more of the purchased energy is used for indoor comfort, you are more apt to feel as if you are getting the most for your money.
The University of Kentucky Biosystems Engineering’s Builders Guide says that even a poorly functioning high-efficiency system may cost more to operate than a well-designed, moderately efficient unit.5 Keeping your system at peak performance and working as intended can be financially beneficial!
It’s important to have your HVAC equipment routinely serviced by a professional HVAC technician. Routine maintenance may maintain the efficiency of the system, extend the life of your HVAC equipment, and possibly prevent minor issues from turning into expensive significant problems over time.

Program Your Indoor Comfort

If you are operating your HVAC system at your ideal comfort setting when you aren’t home to enjoy it, you may be wasting money. Based on the 2015 Energy Information Administration’s Residential Energy Consumption survey, only one in eight U.S. households had a central air-conditioning unit that was controlled by a programmed thermostat.6 But, even for those households with a programmable thermostat, more than two-thirds of the homes control temperatures without actually programming the thermostat.6
To gain more control of over-the-top indoor comfort costs, one of the simplest changes is to have your licensed, professional HVAC dealer install and program a programmable thermostat or control system. With the latest in thermostats and control systems, you get indoor comfort when you want it and save money when you aren’t in your home. And that’s nothing to feel guilty about!
1 U.S. EIA. Monthly Energy Review, Average Retail Prices of Electricity. May 2017. https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec9_11.pdf.
2 American Coalition of Competitive Energy Suppliers. "What is Energy Choice?" 2018. ACCES. http://competitiveenergy.org/what-is-choice/. 4 January 2018.
3 "A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling." August 2009. Energy Star. https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/publications/pubdocs/HeatingCoolingGuide%20FINAL_9-4-09.pdf.
4 Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association. What R-value means. n.d. http://www.cellulose.org/HomeOwners/WhatR-valueMean.php. 17 January 2018.
5 The University of Kentucky. "Builders' Guide." Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (n.d.): 115.
6 U.S. Energy Information Association. "One in eight U.S. homes uses a programmed thermostat with a central air conditioning unit." 19 July 2017. EIA. https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=32112. 27 December 2017.