Last week our home energy consultant Chris Patterson was invited to our local Country radio station KFROG 95.1 to participate in a community service radio broadcast about energy savings. This is a 30 minute interview conducted by radio disc jockey Doug E Frog. If you have always wondered about what you as a home owner can do to reduce your energy cost and save money this is a great thirty minute interview that you must listen to! Chris covers the simple things that you the home owner can do in just several hours that will save you money right away. Do you know what “Vampire Load” is? Have you ever thought about installing solar on you house? We cover that too. Click here to listen to the interview. You can find the original broadcast on KFROG’s web site by clicking here. We have also provided a written transcript of the interview below if you are one of those people who just love to read!
Transcript from the interview:
DOUG: Welcome back to Eye on the Community. My guest for this segment is Chris Patterson with Henry Bush Plumbing Heating Air Conditioning and Home Energy Solutions and we’re gonna be talking with him about energy efficiency today. That’s kind of the big picture. Welcome Chris, thanks for joining us.
CHRIS: Thanks for having me.
DOUG: Well, let’s just start with what can our listeners do themselves to lower their electricity usage?
CHRIS: Well, there’s a couple things that are pretty darn obvious. One of them you can look at changing out the light bulbs in your house. I know people ask me all the time, does that really work? And I say, “Not if you do one or two in your house, but if you switch them all out? It has an impact for sure.” You can switch out to either CFL, also to the compact fluorescent–little squirrely curly little cute light bulbs in there. They’ve covered them up with bulbs now so some of them don’t look like the curly cute ones anymore.
DOUG: They’ve kind of changed the light a little bit too, right?
CHRIS: It’s a tad–
DOUG: –incandescent light.
CHRIS: –A tad. What you want to look for–and this is really important–that was one of the annoying features about CFL in the beginning is they come in colors, and so what you want to look for is the color warm, not cool light. Cools light is office light, it’s bluish. And if you put one of those in your house, you’re gonna go, Wow! That looks really different than the bulb I had in my house before, that incandescent light bulb–Thomas Edison’s light bulb. But if you look for the warm light–or you’ll look on to the packaging and find one that says 2700K, that’s the color of the light, 2700 Kelvin, and that’s gonna be more of your orangish light like your incandescent light bulb would be. If you get those, you can hardly tell any difference at all. And then the LED light bulbs, they’re great, they last forever, I mean, and a lot longer.
DOUG: Is that where some of the savings comes from? I mean, it’s not so much in the energy savings and what it burns but also the long life that you’re not incurring the cost, or replacing bulbs more often.
CHRIS: Correct. Yeah, and you’re talking about light bulbs, you’re replacing 60Watt light bulbs in some case with 14Watts. If you’ve got a bulb that’s on, just the other day, I replaced three carriage lights in front of my house. 60Watt lights that burn 12 hours a day, 180 watts, 12 hours a day. I replaced them with three bulbs that were 9Watts apiece. We’re talking 27 Watts. That adds up.
CHRIS: For sure. LED bulbs, they keep coming down in price. They’ve halved in price year over year and hopefully in the next twelve months we’ll see another halving of price there. They’ll come in–they’re getting real close to 2700K. You’ll see a 3000K which is just a touch bluer than your incandescent light bulb? But it’s still pretty darn close to what you’ve got in that incandescent light bulb. That’s one other things you can do.
DOUG: Yes. So what are some of the other things–
CHRIS: One of the the other things–one of the not so obvious things in your house. I think they’re called vampire load. When I first heard that I thought, what is that? Edison was talking to us about vampire load. What vampire load is, is when you shut down the lights, and you turn off everything and go to bed, what’s still taking energy? You have a PlayStation that’s in standby mode. PlayStations in standby mode can suck a lot of energy. S of the most common offenders we see are things like gaming systems, the home theater systems. Home theater systems take a lot of load on that right there. DVR takes a lot of–if you have a DVR, it takes a lot of vampire load. Anything that when it goes in to standby mode, those–that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s off. Like in the old days, when you turned it on and off and it’s in standby mode, it’s still taking power. And those things add up, start to–they’re just adding on things in your house, it’s taking that electricity and adding to your bill.
DOUG: So now if you have the DVR on like it’s tripped and it’s turned on, will it still record?
CHRIS: Yeah, so, here’s one other things that we use. We use a power strip that the TV controls the master switch. There’s two of them on the power strip that are always on and the rest of them are controlled by whatever’s in the master switch. So DVR is you just wanna leave it in the ‘always on’ position because you want to record, and you want your things to record. In addition is, you don’t want that thing to have to rebuild every time. It has to rebuild all the program all the time–
DOUG: Every time you turn that back on, yeah
CHRIS: –And so, so what you want to plug in to things like that are your sound systems. You don’t need your home theater systems on that. Anything else that’s underneath that cabinet, that your gaming system. So when it–when the TV power’s off, this thing’s off, power’s down. The rest of the–the ones that are plugged on that right there. And look for opportunities around the house to plug in power strips. Do you have something that’s on a–for instance in the garage, do you have a battery in the garage for a drill that’s charging 27/7, 365–
Chris: –Yeah, exactly. On that right there, does it need to? Through all the little timer around there like a Christmas light timer on there and have it charge two to three hours a day. Charges two to three hours, it’s all for 21 hours a day. On that right there you get–when you need the battery it’s fully charged when you go there–
DOUG: –it’s ready for you–
CHRIS: –and you’re not pulling that, you’re not pulling that power 24 hours a day. Look for things like that. Additionally, if you got kids at home like I do, they can’t shut off the light to save your life. Shut off the light. The parents say that the whole time, now they have this thing they call occupancy sensors. We can change out the light switch, my son walks in his room, turns on the light, when he’s in the room, it’s looking for motion. As soon as there’s no motion in the room, it shuts off its lights. On that right there, so i don’t have to yell at them anymore. We can have a better relationship without dad creaming and the power out usage in the house definitely goes down.
DOUG: Now the kids are gonna say, “It’s only a 9Watt light bulb, Leave me alone!
CHRIS: Exactly. Or they’re doing homework being real still and the lights shut off or–things like that. The other big offender and guys I can’t say this enough is the refrigerator or the freezer in the garage. Nobody takes–everybody gets the nice new refrigerator. The energy-star refrigerator, beautiful refrigerator, puts it in the house, and sticks the old, any ___ refrigerator out in the garage where it’s 100 degrees on a summer day and you just parked a car in there. Okay? I mean, it’s the most expensive twelve pack of beer that you’ve ever bought. It would be cheaper to have it brewed with your name on it at that point. I have people say, “But I buy in bulk. I save money by buying in bulk.” Do you really, when you put that energy cost that you have by having one or two refrigerators, when somebody says I got a high utility bill the first thing I’m doing is looking for that. That offender right there is the first I’m looking for is, what’s in–is there something–is there a refrigerator in the garage? That’s pulling energy right there. So if you’ve got one of those, I know guys, it’s your beer fridge in the garage but–
DOUG: You have cheaper ways to do it–
CHRIS: –or go out and put–buy the real nice energy-star one and put that in the garage and leave the old one in the house. It’s probably not gonna happen.
DOUG: Yeah, I don’t think so.
CHRIS: But if you have to have one in the garage, definitely use an energy-star because they’ve made huge improvements in refrigerators and the energy that they use today.
DOUG: And then how about tiers? I’ve heard a lot of talk about that.
CHRIS: So if you’re an Edison customer, and I realize that you have listeners that are Riverside Public Utility’s customers, Colton Electric, ___ Electric. But if you’re an Edison customer, Edison tiers, their electricity usage, tier 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And there’s two different usage periods. There’s a summer time usage rate where they give you a little more usage and then a winter time usage rate. And so what you want to do is try to live your life in tier 1 and tier 2. If you live your life in tier 1 and tier 2 under Edison, it’s relatively inexpensive. Tier 2 is really short. Tier 1, its’ a decent time period. Tier two will be real quick and then they jump you into tier 3 and your rates can go up pretty soon ___ tiers 3, 4, and 5.
DOUG: So can you maybe explain a little bit how do you move from tier to tier and what keeps you in–
CHRIS: Well what keeps you in–okay, so somebody’s got a pool and they got a single speed pool pump. That single speed pool pump is probably throwing them, using the electricity in tier 1 and tier 2 by day three of the month. See, Edison doesn’t know when you use your electricity. They’ve been trying to get us to use our electricity during the times they want us to, do your major stuff at night. But they really don’t have any idea. All they know is that at the beginning, they read your meter. At the end, they read your meter and they subtract. And they know how much you used, but they don’t know when you used it.
DOUG: For the month. Okay.
CHRIS: So what they say is, “I’m gonna give you X amount of kilowatts–”
DOUG: So real quick, even with these new meters that they’ve gone around and installed, they still don’t have a way of knowing–
CHRIS: They do–with the new smart meters, yes, they definitely do know, but they’re not billing with that yet.
CHRIS: And that is a definite yet. Edison is looking at going to timer use billing in which case your rates during certain periods of day will be more than they are during other off period–So the rate during 2 o’clock on a August day, when they don’t want you using it will be significantly more than it is–
DOUG: So they’ll penalize you–
CHRIS: –yeah–in January of 3 in the morning–
DOUG: –so to speak–
CHRIS: –Right now they can’t do that so all they do is they tier your life.
CHRIS: So what you wanna do is try and keep yourself–like I said, a pool–single speed pool pump. I’ve seen that throw people into a tier 3 electricity usage day three or four of the month.
DOUG: So when you’re in tier three, that’s where you–
CHRIS: That’s the rest of the month until you get to tier 4, until you get to tier 5. And look at those rates. Everybody’s got different rates. But look at those rates. The differences can be three of four times what your rates are in tier 1.
DOUG: So depending on where our listeners are living, each power company has a tier system now?
CHRIS: Yes, so Riverside Public Utility I believe is a two-tier system. I think Colton is similar to their tier 2 system. But anybody under the Edison umbrella, ___ in Southern California, Edison is five-tier system on there. So try and live your life in tier 1, tier 2–
DOUG: Okay, so this advice applies to everybody. Okay, good.
CHRIS: Yeah. And that’s where light bulbs and things like that take place because what you want to do is minimize the things that are using that vampire load, those light bulbs. Those things so that you can turn on the air conditioner without any fear.
CHRIS: Because that air conditioner is still in tier 1 and tier 2. It’s inexpensive to run an air conditioner in tier 1, tier 2 if that’s where you are.
CHRIS: Tier 5? You’re gonna get yourself a bank note.
DOUG: All right. Those are all good tips for us. So what programs are available to help out on some of these things if you want to make some major changes where you can–
CHRIS: Yeah, for sure.
CHRIS: Southern California Edison. So Southern California Edison says that half of the energy usage in California is used by your HVAC system, your air conditioning and heating system. And that is all the air conditioning and heating system, commercial and everything, here in California. And so, Southern California Edison, has come up with a program to try and get you to put the correct size air conditioning system in your house installed by somebody that does it in a way that’s gonna deliver efficiency.
DOUG: Well bigger must be better.
CHRIS: Yeah. No, bigger is definitely not better out there.
CHRIS: Bigger is–so this big air conditioning is what happens on a house that’s oversized air conditioning, is it does what’s called short cycling. The air conditioner comes on, satisfies the thermostat and shuts off. Well your air conditioner takes about then minutes from the time it starts until the time–about ten minutes later it goes to what’s called steady state. And for that first ten minutes it’s using a lot of electricity. Once it gets to steady state, the coppers all come temperature. The ___ lines are all running smoothly. Once after that ten minutes, the electricity usage drops on those things dramatically. Even though it’s still running, everything is running at a much cheaper cost to you on that right there. So if your air conditioner comes on and shuts off and comes on and shuts off five or six times an hour, I mean, do the math, that’s ten minutes it’s not ever getting to steady state on there. What you want is you want a system in your house that on those warm days, it’s kind of a tug of war where the house is trying to heat 2 degrees an hour, one degree an hour and the air conditioner is able to keep your house 2 degrees, one to two degrees an hour and so down one to two degrees an hour and what you do at that point is it’s on and it’s running, 21 hours a day. And it’s scarier.
DOUG: Yeah, i was gonna say, that kind of intuitive you would think, the less it’s on, the less you’ll hear the pump outside going on. I’m not eating up electricity right now.
DOUG: When if it’s running all the time, you’re thinking, “My God! That biggest load I have on my electricity is running all the time!” so that’s–
CHRIS: Well I like to convert it to like driving a car. Okay, if you’re driving a car on the freeway, it doesn’t take very much gas. Once you get up to freeway speed, you just cruising along that. If you’re driving a V12 around town, and you shut that car off at every light, let it cool down, and then turn it back on, that’s what short cycling is doing in your house.
CHRIS: So if you get that system up and running on a properly installed, properly sized system. Now if it’s running long period because it’s got duct leakage, or any other number of problems–I have friends all the time calling me and say, “Hey, so I just leave it running all the time?” Not if it’s not done right to begin with. It’ll cost you a fortune.
DOUG: Okay, so you can’t just go in there and turn it down to fifty and–
CHRIS: No–So Southern California Edison came up with a program called their AC Quality Install program. They’ll rebate you up to $2500 on a system on a properly installed system that has a highly efficient system on that right there. You can get up to $2500. Edison helping you to pay down that bill for that. It’s in a form of a check. They’ll send you a check to help off-set some of that cost to put because they want you to use less electricity. Crazy as it may seem, Southern California Edison wants to sell you less electricity.
DOUG: So it’s a whole system. It’s not just changing your unit or–to a smaller unit. It’s like, you were talking about duct work and, maybe talk about–
CHRIS: So we come at it at an air conditioning background because air conditioning is half of the energy used so if you look at it, if we’re gonna address one of the major contributors when we look at the air conditioning, and the studies that we’ve looked at–not the studies but, in our tests, going in to house after house after house and seen. What we see is that systems are dramatically oversized for the house and the duct work is dramatically undersized for the house. So you may have a five-ton cooling system in your house, but it’s only delivering two tons of air into your house. So that’s literally like driving around town with a V12 car with one foot on the gas, buried in the gas, and one foot on the break, buried in the break. It’s not an efficient way to go.
CHRIS: And so, what we do is–when we redo the system, the better you can do that duct work, the more air you can move with that system. If you can move a hundred percent of the capacity of that system, then you can use a much smaller system to cool your house. So you’re driving around in a Prius. So it doesn’t cost as much to do that. So yeah, we rarely see systems where it’s not–you gotta do the–you can’t use just pieces. There’s just too much wrong and that goes to new houses and all.
DOUG: So just changing the heat pump or the air conditioning part of it isn’t enough a lot of times.
CHRIS: You gotta match up components.
DOUG: You gotta go through the whole system, the duct work, all of that. Okay.
CHRIS: Yeah, for sure.
DOUG: Excellent. So and then how big of a part does insulation play in all that as well?
CHRIS: So insulation–Obama thinks that insulation is sexy. It’s the cheapest thing you can do to your house, and to make a dramatic difference to your house. And insulation is a huge piece of it. When we retrofit, energy retrofit houses we’ll live homeowners sometimes for a day or two without any insulation in the process of doing this and they’ll have a brand new perfect air conditioner system in there pumping out cold air and it’s a hundred degrees outside and they’ve got no insulation in the attic because we’re in between the install period, and the only place they have any comfort is directly underneath the vent. On that right there, insulation makes a giant difference in your house. The problem we see, and we see this in old homes, and we see this in really new homes, is, insulation has to be installed correctly. So when you look up in the attic, especially on these newer homes. Ten years ago when they were building houses, they were using just general laborer out there, and the directions to those guys, God bless them, was make it yellow or make it pink depending on what brand of insulation they we’re using. They would just throw it in there. If you took an R19 fiberglass bath, it should be delivered in R19 insulated value and you have a ¾ of an inch gap. Anywhere along, any of the five edges where it should be, touches along the stud bay, or along where it touches the drier wall, it goes from R19 to R5 on that right there. You may look up there and see all sorts of insulation but did they run it over the electrical? Did they run it over the plumbing pipes up there? Did they run it over the gas line up there? And now they have a gap in there and now it’s just taking away all the effectiveness of that and so we see that a lot. We see that in homes that are–should be really great energy users and we’re seeing–
DOUG: So if all the insulation is in good shape, seems like you could go up there and just, with a gun, a staple gun, and then just kind of close up all those gaps and increase your efficiency a lot without really spending a dime just to have yourself a weekend project–
CHRIS: Definitely. If you have yourself a weekend shot project, go up there with a razor blade so you can cut around the pipes that are going out, and you fit the gas pipes and the electrical pipes, electrical wires inside the insulation so it lays flat. So it touches all five sides on that right there. And then, insulation’s cheap. And it’s not hard work; it’s just nasty, dirty work.
DOUG: Yeah, yeah.
CHRIS: And it’s in an attic which is nasty, dirty place to begin with.
DOUG: And it’s only getting hotter.
CHRIS: Yeah, exactly. I’ve seen one this morning. It’s warm, trust me.
DOUG: As you’ve made the rounds, you’ve learned about all of these, what are the major energy–why do houses use so much energy? What have you found out?
CHRIS: So the first thing I walk into somebody’s house, I ask them about their electric bill. And if somebody says $500, $300, the first thing I say is, do you have a pool? And invariably the answer is yes. When they say no, Houston, we’ve got a bigger problem.
CHRIS: But invariably the answer is yes on that right there. Pools, they’re huge energy users on that right there. One of the remediation steps on that for sure is variable speed pool pumps. The marketing on them says they use 10% on the electricity of a single speed pool pump. I’ve seen the data from actual in-the-field test and we can concur that’s accurate on that right there. So again, it’s staying out of tier 2, tier 3 on a major–you had a major big pump in your backyard.
DOUG: And what does that mean? The–
CHRIS: Variable speed pool pump?
DOUG: –variable speed pump. Yeah.
CHRIS: It changes the way the water’s pulled through it. The difference between driving–I take everything back to cars. This is the difference between driving a car with multiple gears and driving a car that just has one speed on that right there. If you had to drive a car that has one gear and you jump on the freeway, that thing is gonna scream. And it’s gonna use–when you got a variable speed motor, more or less, it’s going through the gears–
DOUG: So are you using those various speeds to like heat the pool differently at different times?
CHRIS: Not in the heating. Just a pool, all day long, has to pull certain amount of water out, filter it, and put it back in.
CHRIS: On that right there, so these pools are running eight–it’s the pump that runs 8 to 12 hours a day.
DOUG: Part of the filtering system, I gotcha.
CHRIS: And the filtering system. So if you can change it to a variable speed pool pump, that’s a big reduction on that right there. And then the other piece of it, and we all know it. I mean, your electric bill during the winter is different than your electric bill during the summer. It’s your air conditioning system on that right there. So you gotta pay attention to that right there and if you had the same energy rates during the summer–or during the winter as you did during the summer, your winter bill would even be cheaper. Edison tightens up those tiers during the winter because they know you’re gonna use a lot less electricity because you’re not turning on that HVAC system. However, when you heat that house, there’s a fan blowing through that furnace that’s using power. You’re using your lights longer during the winter because there’s darker-
DOUG: Dark longer.
CHRIS: –darker longer. So you’re using the lights longer on that right there. So, the air conditioning system, the heating system on that, really pay attention to that one right there. Get it done right on that right there. And any of the AC ___ contractors on that list, they’ve been vetted on that right there.
DOUG: All right, we’ve got a website we’ll share with you here in a little bit as we get to the end of the interview. Another thing that we’re hearing a lot about right now is solar. So, what piece is that in the whole–
CHRIS: So here is our take on solar on this right here: Everything you can do to make your house more energy efficient, you can get crazy. You can absolutely get crazy. You can look at your walls and say, “I have my insulation, my walls wasn’t done correctly. Should I go back and reinsulate it?” Yeah, if you have an unlimited checkbook. There’s a lot of things you could do. So what we look at is loading order. What makes the biggest impact for the cheapest price on that right there? If you just walked in to your house and said I’ve got a $500 electric bill, I’m gonna throw some solar up on my roof to offset that, you’re gonna have to buy a lot of panels to offset that $500 electric bill. Now if you can do some remediation steps, and conserve your energy through remediation, and get less of a bill, if you took that bill down to a $100, that’s less panels on your roof. And panels are a fixed cost on that right there, so what you wanna do is conserve, conserve, conserve, conserve or get your house more efficient and then as the last step in that loading order, renewables. Solar, wind, what have you on that right there but the last step–and this is Energy Star agreed upon, this is California Public Utilities agreed upon, the loading order for renewables is last on that right there. Look at remediation; look at getting your house more energy efficient first–
DOUG: Otherwise, are you just creating all of that energy just so that it can escape through all things we’ve talked through–overused–throughout the insulation and all that.
CHRIS: And in addition, it’s a comfort issue. If you’re running your thermostat at your house for 72 because that’s the only way you can be comfortable on your upstairs master’s bedroom. That is the factor of the air conditioning system not being done correctly to being with. If it’s done correctly, you could run it at 78 and be cold in your house believe it or not, in your bedroom upstairs. Now you’ve conserved more energy. You could buy less solar. You go up and slop the solar out there with the 72 degrees thermostat. Yeah, you’ve got the solar; however, you’re still not even comfortable in your own house on that right there. It’s all about remediation to get yourself and solar, it’s a high-fixed cost. It’s coming down in price but it’s still a fairly high-fixed cost. We believe in it, we definitely believe in it but we believe in it way lower in the loading order than most people out there. You wanna look at conservation first and efficiency first.
DOUG: So I guess we’ve kind of touched on a lot of these things but just to give you another opportunity, what things can you do to make your home more efficient? I think we’ve covered a lot of these. Is there anything we left out?
CHRIS: One of the things you can do is you can have your house tested. You can have somebody come in to your house and they’ll do a test on your house and give you a score on your house as to what kind of efficiency–it’s your miles per gallons décor on your house–on that right there. Your cost of living is really a factor of your mortgage and your utilities. You can have the same mortgage in a house. You can have a mortgage in one house, and a mortgage in house B but your utilities in house B are much more. It’s harder to live in that house. And so what they wanna do is they wanna score a house and put a miles per gallon décor in your house. How much energy does this house use? So when we walk in to houses and do an energy audit on a house, we look at, what’s the lighting load on this house? How’s the efficiency of the HVAC system? What is the effectiveness of the insulation in this house? They’ll put a blower door in your house. What they’ll do is they’ll close all the windows; close all the doors. They’ll stick a vinyl door with a fan in your house and they’ll put your house under pressure to see how much air leaks in and out of your house. The tighter your house is, the more that the air you put in your house is gonna stay in there, the more efficient that house is. So you could have your house tested for efficiency and there’s a lot of guys out there doing that right now. That’s a really good thing. Just have the effectiveness of your HVAC system tested if you don’t wanna go that far. We know that’s half of the energy used. So let’s see how efficient that is on that right there. And then, for crying out loud, if you got a pool, consider variable speed pool pumps. I’ve seen the return on investment on that it’s pretty quick on that one right there.
DOUG: Okay. And now, we’ve been talking about existing homes and I guess businesses as well. Do you run into businesses that are trying to be more efficient as well?
CHRIS: Businesses are definitely trying to be more efficient. They’re looking at everything that they can do to make themselves more efficient. I mean, it depends on the business, sure. There’s lighting loads. Businesses do–Edison has a whole series of classes for contractors on making lighting in a business–specific for the business. You can run a call center for instance and almost the dark, very, very low light. They don’t need–the call center people don’t need a whole lot of light and there yet, you walk in to most offices and they’re lit out like a Christmas tree in there. Yours exactly. You don’t need–what you need is some task lighting on that right there. And so the businesses are definitely looking at how to make themselves more efficient. Churches. Churches have huge loads in there and they’re looking at their ways to make themselves more efficient, so, yeah. We see that a lot.
DOUG: Now are there things that are maybe more extensive things that you could do when you’re doing a construction as oppose to retrofitting?
CHRIS: From a construction, if we can get a whole other contractors from the beginning and get in there and just say, I know the instructions are make it pink in your insulation but let me give you some tips on how to actually make that work.
CHRIS: I was with an architect this week. And we’re talking about–he does custom homes. Not treating the air conditioning system as an afterthought. Central air conditioning should be located centrally. Not in the garage on the west wing. On there where air have to travel through a 140 degree attic, 300 feet, take it out to a vent at the other end of the house. You’d like it to be somewhat central. And so doing things right from the beginning, on that right there, designing it right, installing it right. I’m telling you, I’m walking through a lot of houses that re seven, ten years old, that the air conditioning systems were installed so horribly that these poor people just bought the house and they’re having to replace the air conditioning systems, seven and ten years later when they should last twenty five, thirty years. It’s the installation of these systems. I see it a lot. Houses in high land here. Two units in the house on that right there. Both of them have to be replaced because they never cool the house right to begin with. The homeowners–like crazy to get some sort of comfort out of it and they just burn the system out. So it’s like sticking a straw in your mouth–duct tape in it, making little tiny straws, duct tape in it, putting a piece of cloth over it and then say run around the block, let’s see how long your heart lasts. And that’s what these installers did on a lot of these systems and so new homes; I always see a lot of these in new homes.
DOUG: So, is there anything to look for if you got to the point where you’ve listened now for the last 25 minutes and like, I gotta do that with my home and become more efficient. Is there anything in particular, or what to look for when you’re going out to find a contractor that should be certified in a certain way, that knows these tests and–
CHRIS: So what you’re gonna look for, you wanna look for somebody who’s gonna give you a–here’s what our results will be, and you’re gonna be measuring the results at the end right there. If somebody walks in and says, “I’m gonna sell you a more efficient air conditioning system,” they’re deliverable to you as an air conditioning system on that right there. As long as you’ve got some new boxes, you got an air conditioning system. On the other side of that, if somebody comes in and says, “I’m gonna make your house perform better,” they’re deliverable as well your utility use–lower your electricity usage on that right there. And so, you wanna find somebody who has that frame set of, how can I make the house more efficient? What my deliverable to that homeowner is going to be more efficiency on that house right there. Not using a ‘this or that’ approach. Not using just windows approach or just an air conditioning system approach or just–it’s what does it take to make this homeowner comfortable and have less energy usage? Is it candle and a fan? I don’t know what’s it gonna take. Look out what it’s actually gonna take to make this house more efficient, not just the marketing pieces
DOUG: That was something I was just gonna say. There was something that you were just–mentioned right there. We haven’t really touched upon us is energy-efficient windows.
DOUG: Yeah. That’s another component–
CHRIS: Definitely they make a difference. When you’re sitting next to a window that’s an old single-pane aluminum window, or old single-pane wood window, there is more heat in that room than if you go with a newer dual-pane vinyl window on that right there. The affect those have in a house, it definitely makes the homeowner more comfortable in the house and it will use less electricity. But now did you just make your–oversized the air conditioner, even more oversized because you’ve put in new windows? Are you gonna short cycle even more now? Or are you gonna look at it in a more holistic approach? That’s why the tougher part about energy efficiency for lot of people is you can’t do pieces a lot of times. There are some things you can do as homeowner–changing out light bulbs, insulation–things like that–pool pumps–those things right there you could kind of, piece meal. But when you start attacking the whole house, sometimes you have to attack the whole thing at once because you may make the problem worse by–I’m gonna throw the attic to R60. That’s great. Now your air conditioner was 5 tons and you only need 2.
CHRIS: Now you’re–
DOUG: So you’re running it more often.
DOUG: Start, and stop, start, and stop. I got some fairly big results by just putting a programmable thermostat in. I wasn’t messing with it all the time. I just program it and it does it. I never touched it.
CHRIS: For sure.
DOUG: I saw a big drop just from that one alone.
CHRIS: One of the biggest tips I can give you, and I tell this story all the single time. My brother-in-law has a house in La Quinta that we use on weekends. And so we walk out there in the summer, it’s a 160 degrees outside that house hasn’t been used for two weeks maybe. We flip on the air conditioner when we get in there. We get the air conditioner cranked on the 78, 77 degrees. There’s 78, 77 degree air coming out on Friday when we showed up, but on Saturday, when you sit down, the couch is still 100 degrees because it’s been baking at a hundred degrees on that right there. So one of the things you can do in your air conditioning mode of your house is set it and leave it on that right there. Set your air conditioner and let your house bake at 78 or 77 degrees. In that way, everything in that house–then all your conditioner has to do is maintain the temperature of the house. Don’t’ walk in at 3 o’clock in the afternoon when the air conditioner hasn’t been all day. It’s 95 degrees outside, it’s 92 degrees inside your house. You flip the air conditioner to 75. It’s just not the most effective way to do it efficiently and you’re gonna use a lot more electricity when you do that. Try and get your house to just get to a point where it’s maintaining that temperature on that. And air conditioning is nice because we run our thermostat, we definitely use the program. We’ll feature during the winter. But during the summer we set it 78 and leave it. We don’t touch it.
DOUG: Never move it.
CHRIS: Everything becomes 78. When I get in my sheets, it’s 105 degrees outside, my sheet–my bed’s 78. It’s been baking at 78. It’s cold when you get in bed and that’s not something you experience in most houses.
DOUG: A lot of great information. Is there any way, one place where we can kind of send people to get all of these?
CHRIS: www.Energystar.gov has some great tips on that right there. The documentation they have is really, really good on that right there. The website for the Edison AC Quality website is www.ac-quality.com/QI. So it’s www.ac-quality.com/QI. It’s really a good place to start if you’re looking for a contractor to take a look at your HVAC system on that right there. So, yeah.
DOUG: Very nice. Might be a good time to kind of get on that before it gets too hot.
CHRIS: Today it’s warm. We’ve had some beautiful weather this winter. Spring time weather all winter long basically. A couple days of cold this winter but for the most part it’s been a mild winter and so from a guy who makes his living in the energy field, I’m praying for a hot summer considering we had a pretty warm winter on that right there so-
DOUG: All right. Well, good luck to you, and don’t work too hard this summer. Chris Patterson with Henry Bush Plumbing Heating, Air Conditioning and Home Energy Solutions. Thanks for joining us on “Eye on the Community.”
CHRIS: I appreciate it. Thanks Doug for having me.
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