Green Tip: How inefficient is your HVAC system exactly

Imagine your home on a blistering summer day with no AC or in the dead of winter with no heater. Based strictly on comfort, it’s a very good thing we have the luxury of both these systems. But your wallet might have a different perspective. Within most buildings, the heating and air conditioning systems consume the most total energy. These two dual forces of internal climate control can represent anywhere from 20-60 percent of a building’s energy draw.

A large proportion of this energy goes into the actual act of heating the furnace or spinning the fans. However, an unfortunately large amount of electricity also goes into overcoming the inefficiencies with our HVAC systems. Leaky ducts, bleeding pipes, and poorly insulated systems all create extraordinary inefficiencies that most people decide to overcome by simply ‘pushing harder.’

It’s somewhat akin to having an inner tube that pops and considering the best way to fix it is to inflate it faster than it deflates.

Sooner or later you won’t be able to ride your bike anymore.

What you need to know

How inefficient is your HVAC system exactly? According to a local HVAC firm in Maine, a ‘small’ amount of energy wasted on inefficient systems is around 10% of the total HVAC energy draw. An ‘average’ was closer to 25% and a truly ‘faulted’ system could waste as much as 75% of the HVAC’s energy draw.

These are huge percentages. If the average system wastes 25% of the HVAC’s energy draw through leaks, it means that anywhere between 5-15% of a given building’s total energy cost is wasted. Poof. Gone.

Luckily, there is an easy way for you to prevent your money from leaking out of your house. Getting your HVAC system (and your house in general) audited for energy efficiency is an easy way to stay on top of your electric bill.

Most utility services or HVAC specialists offer the audit for free (or at least very close.) However, the audit only achieves half the battle. In most situations, the auditor will only delineate where your system can be improved. You must then take on the next steps of actually making improvements to the system. These will often include re-taping the ductwork or an internal insulation layer.

The Savings


Of course, improvements will cost money up front. However, with assistance from rebates, incentives, and even occasional tax credits, most of the initial cost can be defrayed. Your improved system will save you much more than you spent on the improvements. A little work can recover up to 85% of your system’s energy waste. This saves anywhere from 4-12% of your total energy bill.

It should be noted that although HVAC improvements may only be needed every 5-10 years, annual HVAC inspections should be preformed to verify that a building’s system is working at a high level of efficiency. That way, if there is an issue with a building’s HVAC, one can catch it before it does too much damage.


Looking Deeper


Imagine if every building in the United States fixed their HVAC’s leaks and drops. Since buildings as a whole account for about 40% of the entire U.S.’s energy usage, sealing up leaky HVAC systems could save anywhere from 2-5% of the entire United State’s energy use. Imagine powering the entire city of Chicago with electricity. That is how much energy we could save by fixing every leaky HVAC system in the country. It’s mind bending.

Think about it


No one likes the idea of their money being wasted. An energy audit is an easy way to make sure that your money is only going towards heating or cooling your house, not the outside.

Once your HVAC system is running efficiently, you will be using less energy, reducing your green house gas emissions and saving money.

So as you get ready to turn on the heater for winter, take a moment to make sure it’s working efficiently.


by Tamara Perreault and Keith Heyde

Tamara and Keith are of Bowdoin College and Columbia University respectively. The two started a biotech and environmental consulting start up Abstract Algae over the summer of 2011



For movies opening December 2, 2016

  OPENING THIS WEEK Kam's Kapsules Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun by Kam Williams For movies opening December 2, 2016     BIG BUDGET FILMS Incarnate (PG-13 for terror, profanity, disturbing images, intense violence, sensuality and mature themes) Horror flick about an unconventional exorcist (Aaron Eckhart) who meets his match while attempting to free the mind of an 11 year-old (David Mazouz) possessed by a … [Read More its Good for You.....]


Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This

  Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This Book Review by Amy Lignor What began in an unforgettable Volume 1—living Jerry Hall’s story and dealing with the heart-wrenching issues of the Viet Nam* War—continues here. The action of battle, fraught with the unending horrors that the “unwanted veterans” dealt with, grows even more painful. And as war comes closer to an end, what should have been peaceful … [Read More its Good for You...]


The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

New Home Sales Jump in April

  New Home Sales Jump in April By Burt Carey Sales of new homes hit their highest rate since 2008 in April, according to the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau. April sales increased 16.6 percent over March figures, which correlates to a seasonally adjusted rate of 619,000 home sales projected for the year. The median price of those new homes was $321,000, the highest median price ever recorded. That’s up 9.7 percent … [Read More its Good for You.....]


Inside WildAid

  Inside WildAid by Amy Lignor   Donations can be made. Time can be volunteered. There are a great number of charities, organizations and hard workers out there who strive with everything they have to save the animals of the world. The National Wildlife Administration, the World Wildlife Federation – these are just two leaders that help keep our beloved species’ on the map. There is also an organization whose sole mission is to end … [Read More its Good for You...]


Skeeter Boats Comes Up with Cure for Cabin Fever

  Skeeter Boats Comes Up with Cure for Cabin Fever By Craig Lamb   If you are overdosing on TV fishing shows, mindlessly flipping through tackle catalogs, or feeling down and don’t know why, then you are not alone. Count yourself among most of the fishermen in the entire country. We have cabin fever. It’s common this time of year when hunting and football overtake wetting a line on the list of weekend priorities. Or, it’s just plain too … [Read More its Good for You...]


The Best & Worst (So Far) of the 2016 NFL Season

  The Best & Worst (So Far) of the 2016 NFL Season by Amy Lignor     Okay…we’re almost dead center, folks, so it’s time to sum up the best and silliest actions and reactions that the 2016 NFL season has provided fans thus far.   Analysts are always yapping, and most likely nothing they say will actually come true. However, right now almost everyone is agreeing to the fact that Tom Brady has a score to settle. Yes, … [Read More its Good for You...]


Charity Begins at Home

  Charity Begins at Home by Amy Lignor   Turning a blind eye is easy for some; preferred by others. But the fact is that the bad doesn’t become good – in any area – unless eyes are open wide to not only see what’s occurring, but also to gain the knowledge needed to stop the bad from getting even worse. Remarks are made about “other countries” and what they do wrong when it comes to the harming of animals for profit. However, in … [Read More its Good for You...]


Exploring the Holidays Around the Globe

  Exploring the Holidays Around the Globe by Amy Lignor   Thanksgiving has been had. Games have been watched and the golden turkey has caused a great many belts to be loosened. So…here it comes!   From hanging the stockings on the chimney with care to the red-nosed reindeer who had to be there; from Santa heading down that chimney just right to lovely sleigh bells ringing softly in the night, the holiday season is a truly … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Forecasting Climate Change

  Forecasting Climate Change by Amy Lignor As with anything in this world, it depends on whose opinion or observations you trust as to just how bad climate change is becoming. As 2016 begins to wrap up, climate scientists, atmospheric physicists, chemists, oceanographers – you name it – no one can come up with any other explanation for climate change and the warming of our planet other than human activity. How fast is it happening? … [Read More its Good for You...]