WHAT’S AN ENERGY AUDIT AND WHY SHOULD YOUR HOME HAVE ONE SOON?

Even when an air conditioner makes it through a summer with little trouble, your monthly bills throughout the season can be quite high. While you’re happy that your air conditioner is functioning well, it drains energy, and it might seem like you have to shut it off completely if you want to try to save money.
There are better ways. An energy audit is an investment in the future of your air conditioner and the energy efficiency of your home.

A home energy audit, or sometimes also known as a home energy assessment is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time.

Energy Audit is different to an energy assessment

Many suppliers and installers of energy efficient lighting and other technologies offer ‘Energy Assessments’. Be warned an Energy Assessment is not an Energy Audit. An Energy Audit must be conducted to the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 3598:2000); it should offer independent, impartial advice. An energy audit should not try to recommend or sell one particular product.


How a professional energy audit works
An energy audit is a service offered by some local HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) contractors in order to help you figure out why your air conditioner is not working as efficiently as it should. Energy audits involve a thorough assessment of your home, not just the air conditioning system itself (although an inspection is usually included).

After testing and inspections of your HVAC equipment, insulation, ductwork, and more, your technician will report back to you about the findings. They might find that you need to make some changes around the home, big or small, if you want to improve the amount of energy used with each cycle and how comfortable you feel.

  • Adding blown-in insulations.
  • Sealing the ducts.
  • Cleaning the ductwork.
  • Adding indoor air quality equipment.
  • Sealing minor air leaks around doors and windows.
  • Updating or replacing AC equipment.

In any case, you should take the initiative to schedule these services with your technician and make sure your home is more efficient for many years to come. Do this before the summer, so that you don’t have to deal with efficiency problems all season long.

Types of energy audits

The Australian Standard (AS/NZS 3598:2000) outlines what an energy audit should cover. The standard specifies 3 levels of energy audits:

A level-1 energy audit is a lower cost, entry-level assessment for your site providing a lower level assessment of energy use and energy saving opportunities. It is useful as a first step investigation into energy saving opportunities. Accuracy: should be within ±40%. Outcome: an abbreviated report with a short list of key energy saving opportunities with rough figures on savings and costs. Next step: you should now have a better understanding of your sites energy usage and options to reduce your energy usage and costs. Further investigation is required to properly cost and assess options. This may be done by seeking quotes from suppliers or conducting a level-2 audit.

A level-2 energy audit provides a more detailed assessment of your site’s energy usage and a more comprehensive analysis of energy and cost savings. It is intended for sites that have some knowledge of energy efficiency and require a detailed assessment of opportunities to reduce their energy consumption. A level 2 energy audit includes a number of items not included in a level-1 audit such as: identifying how and where energy is used, a load profile analysis (instantaneous demand profile for your site), developing an energy performance indicator (e.g. MWh/unit), and measuring light levels to check if areas are overlit and wasting energy. Accuracy: should be within ±20%. Outcome: a full analysis and report providing a prioritised list of energy saving opportunities with estimates on costs and savings. Next step: you should now have a good understanding of your sites energy usage and a prioritized list of options to reduce energy usage and costs. Now you need to decide what options you would like to pursue, seek quotes from at least 3 suppliers, re-assess costing and implement.

A level-3 energy audit provides the most comprehensive assessment of energy usage and a detailed economic analysis of energy-saving opportunities. It may cover an entire site or may focus on one area or process. It requires energy metering and logging which may significantly increase the cost of the energy audit. Accuracy: should be within +10% for costs and -10% for benefits. Outcome: an in-depth analysis and detailed report providing a firmly costed list of energy-saving opportunities. Next step: you should now have all the practical and financial information required to justify implementing an energy saving opportunity. Time to implement.

HOW THE WRONG AIR FILTER AFFECTS YOUR HOME

Most technicians recommend changing an air filter once every month, or at most, every 2 or 3 months. You might assume that this is because you need to keep your air clean. And this is true—partly. A technician’s number one concern, though, when it comes to your air filter, is keeping your air conditioner from being damaged.

That’s what your air filter is there for in the first place: damage prevention. But the wrong air filter can do way more harm than good.

 

How your filter protects your AC system

The air filter in your AC system is primarily there to protect your air conditioning system, although today’s filters are also effective at reducing allergens. If there were no filter present, your indoor blower fan could suck in large particles of debris as it sucked in the air, which could, in turn, damage an air conditioner.

However, you do still need a sufficient amount of airflow to move through the system. That’s why you are supposed to change your air filter regularly. If it’s too dirty, it could stop air from flowing into the system, not just debris.

 

Thinking of upgrading your home’s air filter?

Just as a dirty air filter can inhibit airflow, so too can an air filter that is the wrong size and rating for your air conditioner. The fibres that are meant to trap particulate in the air may be so tightly woven that they stop air from moving into the HVAC system altogether.

The MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) of your air filter is a good indicator of how well it filters. Most air conditioners come with a filter of about 1-4 MERV, but may be able to hold a filter of up to MERV 8. However, if the filter is too strong, you put your air conditioner at risk. Consider a whole-house air purifier instead!

 

Air filters and your health

Getting the correct air filter is also incredibly important as your health can be affected by it. Air filters are the one that filter dirt, dust, moulds and other particles in the air making your indoor air as healthy as possible. That’s why it’s important to know;

 

Which Air Filter Fits Your Home?

There are different types of air filters and it’s very important to know which one best fits your home and your system. There are less expensive fibreglass filters which primarily functions to protect your system. They are economical but may not be good for homeowners with respiratory issues since they do not help improve the air quality of your home. If you are prone to allergies and breathing difficulties, high-efficiency filters will work best for you.  They are more expensive but can protect your system and filter small particles better than low-priced air filters.

 

Your Air Conditioner is an important and expensive asset to your home, which is why taking the time to understand and learn about your appliance is so important. Always make sure to get the correct filter for your unit so that your unit stays as good as new and keeps you and your family stay healthy and cool during summer.

3 Step Process

DIAGNOSING COMMON AIR CONDITIONING PROBLEMS

One of the most common air conditioning problems is improper operation. If your air conditioner is on, be sure to close your home’s windows and outside doors. For room air conditioners, isolate the room or a group of connected rooms as much as possible from the rest of your home.


Other common problems with existing air conditioners result from faulty installation, poor service procedures, and inadequate maintenance. Improper installation of a central air conditioner can result in leaky ducts and low airflow. Many times, the refrigerant charge (the amount of refrigerant in the system) does not match the manufacturer’s specifications. If proper refrigerant charging is not performed during installation, the performance and efficiency of the unit are impaired. Unqualified service technicians often fail to find refrigerant charging problems or even worsen existing problems by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full.

Air conditioner manufacturers generally make rugged, high-quality products. If your air conditioner fails, begin by checking any fuses or circuit breakers. Let the unit cool down for about five minutes before resetting any breakers. If a central air conditioner’s compressor stops on a hot day, the high-pressure limit switch may have tripped; reset it by pushing the button, located in the compressor’s access panel.

Refrigerant Leaks
If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, either it was undercharged at installation or it leaks. If it leaks, simply adding refrigerant is not a solution. A trained technician should fix any leak, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant. Remember that the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner is greatest when the refrigerant charge exactly matches the manufacturer’s specification and is neither undercharged nor overcharged. Refrigerant leaks can also be harmful to the environment.

Inadequate Maintenance
If you allow filters and air conditioning coils to become dirty, the air conditioner will not work properly, and the compressor or fans are likely to fail prematurely.

Electric Control Failure
The compressor and fan controls can wear out, especially when the air conditioner turns on and off frequently, as is common when a system is oversized. Because corrosion of wire and terminals is also a problem in many systems, electrical connections and contacts should be checked during a professional service call.

Sensor Problems
Room air conditioners feature a thermostat sensor, located behind the control panel, which measures the temperature of the air coming into the evaporator coil. If the sensor is knocked out of position, the air conditioner could cycle constantly or behave erratically. The sensor should be near the coil but not touching it; adjust its position by carefully bending the wire that holds it in place.

Drainage Problems
When it’s humid outside, check the condensate drain to make sure it isn’t clogged and is draining properly. Room air conditioners may not drain properly if not mounted level.

Please be advised that we do not recommend a non-licensed technician to inspect and or repair your unit. Units that are inspected or repaired by unlicensed persons can void warranties and escalate the issue with your unit.

 

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