ENERGY
SOLUTIONS
  Heating and Cooling Options
All electric is your best energy efficiency bet
Doug Rye
King of Caulk
and Talk

I trust that you are enjoying this series of energy improvement articles. Better yet, I hope you are implementing them. If you are then you are now saving several dollars per month on your utility bills. Please remember that you make the improvements once, but you save money every 30 days.

It is always difficult for me to decide what I want to help you with next because I so badly want to help all of you now. Often I choose the improvement suggestions based on questions I receive at my office. Many of you have called recently because your heating and cooling system has simply kicked the bucket.

Your question is usually the same. What should the replacement be? That's difficult to answer in this one column since the proper answer is dependent on your particular house, but let's try.

The efficiency of most new heating systems is as follows: gas furnace, 80 percent; electric heat pump, 250 percent; geothermal heat pump, 400 percent. That really caught your attention, didn't it? I thought it would. You see why I haven't recommended a gas furnace in the last 15 years?

Cooling systems, on the other hand, are rated by SEER, which stands for seasonable energy efficient rating or ratio.

Now, since all cooling systems are electric, let's look at our choices. Before 2006, all units were required to have a SEER rating of at least 10. Now, the minimum SEER rating is 13, which is a pretty good improvement. If your house is 2,000 square feet or less and is fairly energy efficient, I usually recommend a SEER 13 heat pump as a replacement.

Keep in mind that heat pumps both heat and cool homes. Now, if your house has an electric water heater, you can now remove the gas meter and have no gas bill at all. Wow! You wouldn't mind eliminating a bill entirely now would you?

If you house is bigger than 2,000 square feet, I might suggest that you install a geothermal heat pump. Just call me at the office, 501-653-7931, and we can discuss that further.

A geothermal heat pump is the most efficient heating and cooling system available. Closed loop systems circulate a water-based solution through a "loop" of underground pipes. With this system, heat is transferred to or from the home to provide year-round comfort. Some systems use horizontal loops in which pipes are placed in trenches. Others use vertical loops, which are best suited for areas where available land surface is limited. Whichever heat pump you choose, proper sizing is very important in order to obtain total comfort and maximize utility savings. Most homes have units that are oversized, which costs you more money upfront and in the long run as they don't operate efficiently and will use more energy.

See you next month.

Stay tuned for more from Doug Rye
The “Doctor of Energy Efficiency—the King of Caulk and Talk”

In the mean time you can go to his Web site: www.dougrye.com
E-mail him at info@philliprye.com
or call (888)-Doug-Rye or (501) 653-7931

You can also sign up for a free newsletter and order his “how to” videotapes.

You can now listen to my radio show live on the Internet at 9:05 a.m. on Saturdays. Just go to www.1037thebuzz.com.