ATLANTA - If a colder-than-normal winter hits the United States, heating bills are expected to soar as homeowners struggle to keep their homes warm and comfortable. To combat rising costs, the need to save energy becomes more important than ever, according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

"Rising energy costs encourage higher efficiency," said Charles Culp, Ph.D., P.E. "In the past, consumers have shied away from purchasing more energy efficient equipment and taking more efficient measures due to the initial higher cost. As energy costs continue to increase, homeowners are learning that becoming more energy efficient results in a net cost savings, even when the cost of the higher efficiency equipment is included."

Specific measures homeowners and small building owners can implement to save energy will be provided by ASHRAE at its 2004 Winter Meeting, Jan. 24-28, in Anaheim, Calif.

The public session, "Improving Residential HVAC Energy Efficiency," will take place from 3-5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Admission is free, and registration is not required. It is sponsored by ASHRAE's technical committee on residential and small building applications.

The session will focus on major areas of achieving energy efficiency in residential construction for both new and existing housing.

"Energy, implementation costs, cost savings, and health benefits related to energy savings measures will be discussed," Culp, moderator of the session, said. "Homeowners or local contractors will be able to implement many of these energy savings items and save money in the process."

Examples of measures that will be discussed include replacement of air conditioners, which normally last 10 to 15 years.

"When the homeowner replaces the unit, which unit do they use?" Culp asked. "They need to know the relative trade-offs for the payback on high-efficiency units."

Speakers will discuss how homeowners and small business owners/contractors can reduce energy costs from 10 to 30 percent. Savings can be obtained by sealing cracks, windows, and doors; repairing and sealing ductwork; and through other measures.

Speakers and topics include:

  • "Residential and Light Commercial Tune-Ups," John Proctor, P.E., Proctor Engineering Group, San Rafael, Calif. Obtaining rated efficiency from air conditioners is not automatic. Air conditioning equipment efficiency is affected by factors such as refrigerant charge, refrigerant purity, evaporator airflow, and condenser airflow. This session will cover diagnosing system inefficiencies and verifiable methods of performing system efficiency improvements.

  • "High-Efficiency Air Conditioners," Jim Mullen, Lennox, Carrollton, Texas, and Roy Crawford, Ph.D., The Trane Co., Tyler, Texas. Should high-efficiency air conditioners be installed? High-efficiency air conditioners are now a viable option in reducing operating cost and improving comfort. The session will cover the practical implementation issues found in installing, operating, and maintaining these units.

  • "Impact of House Envelope Changes," Glenn Hourahan, P.E., Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), Arlington, Va. What energy efficiency upgrades make sense? Various trade-offs made during new construction and upgrading existing construction impact the performance, comfort, and the cost to the occupant. This session covers these factors and addresses effective trade-offs.

  • "Impact of Duct Leakage," Mark Modera, Carrier-Aeroseal, Piedmont, Calif. Is there any reason to care about duct leakage? Leaks in air conditioning duct systems can lose significant amounts of energy and adversely impact comfort. This session will cover design, installation, sealing, diagnosing, and retrofitting for energy-efficient duct systems.

    Publication date: 10/20/2003