While we have been enjoying a moderate summer so far, Connecticut residents know that our weather can change and turn hot rapidly. Therefore, The United Illuminating Company (UI) recommends that homeowners have a cooling system checkup to ensure their central air conditioning (A/C) systems are efficient, up-to-date and ENERGY STAR®-certified.
As part of the Energize Connecticut initiative, rebates and financing options are available to residents who upgrade central air conditioning systems with high efficiency systems that meet ENERGY STAR® standards.
As much as half of the energy used in a home goes to cooling during the summer months. Making smart decisions regarding an A/C system can have an immense effect on utility bills as well as comfort. To help homeowners, UI recommends a list of steps to increase the efficiency of their heating and cooling system.
1. Change air filter regularly: Check the filter every 2 months, especially during heavy-use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty, replace it to ensure a clean system with proper air flow.
2. Tune up HVAC equipment yearly: A yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.
3. Install a programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat is ideal for homeowners who are away from their home for set periods of time throughout the week. Having a program in place with the thermostat will further help residents save on their energy bill. On top of that, some technologies provide remote control access through apps on smart phones.
4. Seal your heating and cooling ducts: Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent. It will also improve the overall comfort by keeping the cool air in and the warm air out during these summer months.
5. Consider installing ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment: If A/C equipment is more than 10 years old, or not keeping the house comfortable, homeowners should have the system evaluated by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR rating, which may qualify for an Energize Connecticut incentive. It is time to upgrade or replace an A/C system if:
• Heat pump or air conditioner are more than 10 years old
• Equipment needs frequent repairs and energy bills are going up
• Some rooms in the home are too hot or too cold
• Heating or cooling system is noisy
6. Ask about proper installation of your new equipment: It is important for homeowners to make sure that equipment is properly installed. In fact, improper installation can reduce system efficiency by up to 30 percent, costing homeowners more on their utility bills and possibly shortening the equipment's life span.
“This is the perfect time for homeowners to think about their air conditioning units, before the severe heat of summer is fully upon us,” said Jennifer Parsons, program manager, residential heating, cooling and water heating programs, The United Illuminating Company. “There are more energy efficient models on the market than ever before and homeowners can take advantage of attractive rebates and financing options through the Energize Connecticut initiative to save even more.”
To receive these rebates, homeowners are encouraged to sign up for the Home Energy Solutions (HES) program and receive a $250 rebate when they upgrade their existing A/C systems to high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® models. Participating in HES will help ensure that a home will be more airtight and retain the cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter months.
An additional rebate of $500 is available if homeowners use a Quality Installation Verification (QIV) contractor when installing a new system, offering $750 in total rebates, not including manufacturers’ rebates. In addition to the rebates, Connecticut residents have the ability to get a $300 federal tax credit for a system with a 13, 16, or higher qualifying energy efficient rating through Dec. 31, 2016.
For more information on residential energy efficiency programs, heating and cooling rebates, or any of the other energy-saving programs and services provided through the Energize Connecticut initiative, please call 1-877-WISE-USE or visit www.energizect.com.
About Energize Connecticut:
Energize Connecticut helps you save money and use clean energy. It is an initiative of the Energy Efficiency Fund, the Connecticut Green Bank, the State, and your local electric and gas utilities, with funding from a charge on customer energy bills. Information on energy-saving programs can be found at energizect.com or by calling 1.877.WISE.USE.