System Maintence

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Federal and Austin Energy Rebates

Purchasing an energy-efficient product will not only help you cut down on your utility bills but can also make you eligible for a federal tax credit of 30% of the cost up to $1,500, which expires on December 31, 2010. If you are interested, here are some resources to help you:

Free Thermostats
Any Austin Energy commercial electric customer or residential with standard-type air conditioners – package units, split systems, or heat pumps, may apply to receive a free programmable thermostat, along with free installation and warranty – valued between $200 and $280. In return, you allow Austin Energy to manage the “cycling” of your air conditioner on 10-15 summer afternoons with others when the demand for electricity is at its highest.

Residential and Commercial Rebates and Incentives
While home owners can look forward to $1575 in rebates for attic insulation, air conditioning, caulking, solar screens, and weatherstripping as well as bonus rebates of up to $650, small-to-midsize and non-profit businesses can also get lucrative rebates of up to $100,000 for Commercial Energy Management, up to $200,000 for Data Center Efficiency Rebate etc.

Installing High Efficiency HVAC Equipment
Customers who set up high efficiency HVAC equipment can now get rebates from Austin Energy and they even do not require an energy audit to qualify. However, funding is limited and it’s only available for Austin Energy customers on a first-come, first-served basis.

Solar Photovoltaic Rebates
You may be encouraged to install solar energy systems with commercial incentives and solar photovoltaic (PV) rebates from Austin Energy. This company also administers solar projects and funding in cooperation with state and national organizations.

Energy efficiency at Your Home Made Easy
Austin Energy electric customers who stay in rental property, duplex, condominium or town home, or own a single-family home are eligible to get low-interest, unsecured loans from Austin Energy that do not require a lien on the property, in order to invest in installation/repair of energy efficient systems. However, manufactured homes and mobile homes are not eligible for this loan.

Solar Photovoltaics Loans
Residential customers with single-family residences can avail loans of up to $20,000 to finance their solar electric system at low rates through Velocity Credit Union. Loans are as long as 10 years with no fee, no lien on loans up to $15,000, no closing costs up to $400, and no prepayment penalty.

Free Home Improvements
Home owners with low-to-moderate incomes can now get free home-energy improvements to reduce energy costs and enhance comfort. Know details of general qualifications and renter qualifications by clicking the above url.

Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency
Get an overview of the federal tax credits for energy efficiency and know if you are eligible for the same when you buy an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for your home.

Finding Rebates in Your State
Click on the map or the table to select a state or territory and learn about its appliance rebate program.

20 Tips for Home Energy Savings

Since your home appliances often drain a significant part of energy, thus spiraling your energy bills, you can implement these easy tips to save energy and bring down your bills:

Heating and Cooling

The following are some tips on your home’s ventilating, heating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which can bring down your utility bills considerably:

  1. Checking/changing your filter: Remember to change your filter every 3 months, and keep a close check on how clean it is. While a clean filter allows the system to warm or cool without wasting energy and doesn’t need expensive maintenance, a dirty filter runs the risk of system failure and also drains up more energy with minimum utilization.
  2. Controlling your thermostat: You can bring down your heating bills by keeping your thermostat at a comfortable and energy efficient setting during the day, while turning down the heat at night or when you are not home. Better yet, purchase an Energy Star Thermostat.
  3. Yearly check-up of your HVAC: By opting for a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system, you can not only improve its efficiency and your comfort, but also take care of malfunctioning and wastage of energy, if any.
  4. Installation of energy-efficient systems: Get your system tested by a professional HVAC contractor, in case you feel that it’s not working to its full efficiency or needs an upgradation. If you need to buy a new system, invest in energy efficient ones that are likely to bring down your annual energy bills by almost $200.
  5. Ensure proper installation: Improper installation of your new equipment can not only send your utility bills skyrocketing but may even shorten the equipment’s life and reduce its efficiency by almost 30 percent. So, make sure that you have got it replaced/installed correctly to derive the optimum benefit.
  6. Keeping a low water temperature: Most water heaters are set at 140 degrees F, which causes your water to be hotter than what is necessary. Only people having a dishwasher without a booster heater may need such hot water. You can easily decrease your water–heating costs by almost 6 to 10 percent if you just bring down the temperature to 120 degrees F.
  7. Replacing your showerhead: Use a quality low-flow showerhead instead of a standard showerhead. While the former lets up to 1 to 2 gallons of hot water per minute, the latter sprays up to 8 gallons in the same time. Thus, you will hardly notice any difference while taking the shower, but your utility bills will surely have a significant one to boast of!

Weatherization

Weatherizing your home by having adequate insulation and home sealing can reduce your energy costs as well. Here are some great tips.

Insulation

  1. Insulate your water heater: Use some fiberglass insulation to cover your water heater tank, which will decrease heat loss by 25 to 45 percent. This will help you save 4 to 9 percent on your water-heating bill.
  2. The right way of installation: Follow the installation directions properly, as it’s crucial not to obstruct thermostat access panels of electric heaters, as well as the exhaust vents and air intakes on gas models with insulation.
  3. Insulation jackets and wraps: They can work wonders for water heaters that are located in unheated areas or the ones that have become old.
  4. Attic insulation: Determine if it is adequate and if not, take steps to get it done. After air sealing, find out the present level of insulation. Use a ruler to measure the depth of existing insulation in your attic. If it is less than R-22 (6 inches of cellulose or 7 inches of rock wool or fiber glass), you may benefit by adding more. Usually, a majority of U.S. homes have attic insulation between R-22 and R-49.
  5. Low cost options for insulating windows: Adding a layer of plastic or glass on your window will create a dead air space, thus trapping air that is an excellent insulator. Plastic film window kits are another low–cost option, which you can easily install on the outside or inside of your existing windows.

Sealing your Home

  1. Sealing heating and cooling ducts: Hire a professional to do this and you will stand to save up to $120 (in case you live in coastal areas) and up to $190 (inland) each year.
  2. Reduce drafts: You can add weather stripping around doors and windows to achieve the objective.
  3. Reducing air leakage: Try using caulking to seal around plumbing areas, ducts, and any other openings in floors, walls, and ceilings. You can start with your attic, which is a common place from where warm air escapes.
  4. Sealing larger gaps: There may be larger gaps that need to be fixed as caulk or expanding foam may not serve the purpose here.
  5. Basement Sealing: Use expanding spray foam, or a caulk gun along with acrylic latex or silicone caulk to seal basement leaks.
  6. Installing storm windows: After having sealed air leaks around your windows, you can install storm windows to double their insulating value.
  7. Prevent air leakage via doorframes and windows: Caulk and weather-strip around your doorframes and windows that leak air.
  8. Find and block other holes in and around the house: Holes around penetrations like vents, pipes, wiring, or recessed lights, that go through the home to the outside, crawlspace, attic, or an unfinished basement should be located and sealed using caulk or spray foam.

Making Your Home More Energy Efficient

We’ve all seen Top 10 Things You Can Do To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient lists that don’t seem to have much to do with the real world. The list I’m looking at right now has Install Solar Systems as #2. Yep, I think I’ll go out and install a solar system this afternoon. In my spare time. While installing passive solar collectors may be a great idea for some, it’s an expensive long-term investment, and not something to casually check off a real-life to-do list!

Well, THIS list is one you can actually utilize. Each suggestion is something a handy homeowner can do him- or- her self. A less-than-handy homeowner can probably find someone to help out with the promise of a homecooked meal and a good movie. And none require a loan.

This is the real world. Let’s see what we can do to make it better!

  1. Invest in a programmable thermostat and here’s the important part actually program it! (By the way, Austin Energy gives these away to customers.)
  2. Install CFL bulbs in the light fixtures you use the most. Don’t throw away usable old-fashioned bulbs though . . . use them in closet fixtures that you only keep on for very short periods of time, until they burn out. This way you will eventually get all your bulbs replaced with CFLs but without waste and with the cost spread over time. Also, consider using smaller-wattage bulbs in places where lighting isn’t used for tasks.
  3. Use ceiling fans in occupied rooms, but ONLY in occupied rooms. In the summer, ceiling fans help by cooling people, not by cooling air. In the winter, ceiling fans will push warm air down into the living area, and that will be most noticeable if someone is in the room. Turn fans off when you leave the room! And remember to switch the fans’ direction seasonally: clockwise in the summer (will appear counterclockwise when looking up) and counterclockwise in the winter (will appear clockwise from below).
  4. Use your microwave or toaster oven whenever you can instead of heating the big oven for a small dish. In the summer, try to cook later in the evening when it’s cooled down some. In the winter, leave the oven door open after you’ve turned it off and let it heat the house while it’s cooling down.
  5. Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 125 degrees (check your owners’ manual if you have a dishwasher as some dishwashers require specific temperatures). Consider washing laundry in cold water. Insulate whatever portions of the hot water pipes are easily accessible, whether they are in the conditioned space, or not. Either way, you don’t want them radiating heat into the conditioned air in the summer, if they are in the house, or losing heat to the cold air in the winter, if they are outside, in the attic, or the garage.
  6. Plug gaps where unconditioned air within the walls can enter the living space. Using caulk or spray foam, seal the holes around the pipes where plumbing enters the wall sunder sinks in kitchen and bathrooms. Apply foam gaskets behind the switchplates on your outlets and electrical switches. Don’t just do the outside walls’ unconditioned/unheated attic air comes down into all the walls, and out any gap, it can find.
  7. Seal leaks in your exterior walls, too. Caulk or foam around exterior electrical boxes and exterior plumbing, and fix holes in the siding. Keep the outside air outside!
  8. Check the fit of your exterior doors. If you can see light around a door when it is shut and latched, it needs to be weatherstripped. You can get easy-to-install aluminum and silicon bulb weatherstripping at the hardware store. If your house is old and not very square, simple stick-on foam weatherstripping may work better. If there’s old weatherstripping around the door, be sure to pull that off first. If you can see light under the door, install a door sweep (easy) or replace the threshold (a little trickier).
  9. Shade your south, east, and west- facing windows. Consider planting a tree or shrub for long-term shade. For quicker results, you may be able to erect a free-standing trellis a few feet out from the window and plant a fast-growing flowering vine on it. Other options include installing solar shades (Austin Energy gives rebates on these) or awnings. If you can’t come up with an external source of shade, the next best thing is to hang heavy drapes or shades and pull them shut during the day. It’s better to keep the heat out entirely, but this will at least trap some of the heat between the drapery and the window.
  10. Locate your attic access hatches, and if they are inside the air-conditioned/heated part of the house, insulate and weatherstrip them. You may be able to get an insulation batt remnant from a friend, a construction site (with permission!), or a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Cut to size and attach to the attic side of the hatch with spray adhesive. Apply stick-on foam weatherstripping around the edge of the opening, and you’re good to go. Less unconditioned air will escape from the attic.

And here’s a bonus idea, which you may be able to do yourself, but may not want to: add insulation to your attic and seal your ducts and return air supply. Both involve crawling around in a generally pretty uncomfortable space and both require having some knowledge about what you’re doing. Give it a go on your own, or call a professional, like Smart Air’s weatherization crew. If you’re an Austin Energy customer, Smart Air can help you to qualify for rebates on insulation and duct sealing as well.

Greening Your Home

Clean air

Improve your home’s energy efficiency by reducing uncontrolled outside air infiltration, which reduces energy costs by heating or cooling only the air that is in your home. We help seal the home from unauthorized outdoor air penetration. Proper sealing and mechanical ventilation procedures are the only way to maximize the efficiency of the home, dramatically improve indoor air quality and control moisture levels in the home. Sealing the home greatly reduces the ability of insects and other vermin to enter your home.

The less your unit needs to run, the more money you save and the less impact it has on the environment. Weatherization can qualify for up to 75% rebates of the initial investment!

Calculate your carbon footprint
Energy Savings Calculator  Check the ROI on existing and new appliances to see your savings
Go Green Initiative
Austin Energy  Rebates
Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO)
Energy Star Federal tax credits for consumer energy efficiency

Austin Energy Rebates and Federal Tax Credits

Austin Energy Star

The federal government as well as local municipalitiesAustin Energy Stars, clearly recognizes the importance of energy
efficiency. Smart Air Service Co. is committed to the worldwide effort to reduce CO2 emissions and improve our planet’s air quality and livability. Let us help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Calculate your carbon footprint

Austin Energy  Rebates
Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO)
Energy Star  Federal tax credits for consumer energy efficiency
We’ve created this page to create a segue on the importance of energy efficiency, the reduction of your carbon footprint, etc., and how local municipalities and the federal government are making it cost effective for individual homeowners to make these improvements. These are rebates and federal tax credits currently available.