Our homeowners in Palatine, IL wanted to start things off on the right foot, environmentally speaking. They planned to make their new house a green home. For heating and cooling, that meant solar panels and ductless HVAC.
This combination helps make their new house as energy-efficient as possible. It offsets much of their electrical energy use. And, it provides state-of-the-art heat and air conditioning.
Compass Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. regularly installs energy-efficient HVAC systems throughout Chicagoland. But, this was a great opportunity to pair it with even more green technology.
Let’s look at how we put all these pieces together.
Problem: Our homeowners in Palatine, IL wanted to make their new construction a green build. That meant using environmentally-friendly products and being as efficient as possible when it came to building materials, water, and energy.
Solution: Installed solar panels to generate energy. Also installed a ductless heating and cooling system with air handlers in the living room and bedrooms.
Solar panels are pretty much a must for a green home. After all, the idea is to have as little impact on the environment as they can. That means, in large part, using as few fossil fuels as possible.
Obviously, these panels are the way to go when you’re trying to cut down your carbon footprint. And, over the past decade or so, solar has become more available at the consumer level.
By 2015, for instance, nearly 30 percent of new electricity-generating installations in the U.S. were for solar. That’s more than the number for new natural gas lines.
As a result, people across the country have drastically reduced the amount of electricity they get from their local utility company. Others have eliminated that source entirely.
Now, there are a few caveats. First, you don’t see all those savings immediately. On average, it takes up to eight years before the amount you save on your electric bill outweighs the cost to install your system.
And, not every kind of roof can support the equipment. Older building materials, especially slate and cedar, don’t really work.
Fortunately, neither of these affected our homeowners. This is new construction, and they plan to live here for a long time. Much longer, in fact, than it will take to make their money back.
And, they chose building materials base on what they wanted. And, their roof is also at the perfect pitch for how we needed to place the panels.
As for recouping their investment, the heating and cooling system we installed will also help with that.
Next up is the ductless HVAC we installed here. While the panels provide the energy, this setup makes the best use of it. This system:
Uses less energy to generate warmth and cooling
Uses a “zoned” setup to provide better comfort
Uses inverter technology to use less power
Kilowatt for kilowatt, these setups need less energy than traditional ductwork, radiator or central air systems. And, it provides heat and air conditioning that’s just as comfortable, if not more so.
How does it work? Well, there are two parts to this: outside and inside. Let’s start with the home’s exterior.
There, you’ll find a heat pump. It sort of resembles an AC condenser. But, it provides both cooling and warmth. It does so using a heat transfer process.
This gets a little complicated. But, the long and short of it is that in the winter, it attracts what little heat there is in the air. Then, it amplifies that heat and sends it into the house.
In the summer, it draws heat from the home. Then, it cools that air and sends it back in.
With oil or gas, you’re burning fossil fuels and using the heat from the combustion. Instead, a heat pump just needs a little bit of electricity to get started. After that, it’s a self-perpetuating process.
Now, let’s go inside. Instead of ductwork and vents, all you have are air handlers. These are panels we mount on the walls.
Each one heats or cools a “zone” in the home. For this house, we put one in each bedroom and another in the living room.
The air handlers use inverter technology to save energy. Most other HVAC systems are either off or on at full blast. These have a second, low-power setting. That’s where they stay most of the time.
It’s like cruise control on your car. They use just a little bit of energy to maintain the temperature you want. That’s a lot different from suddenly firing on full blast when the temperature changes.
The panels also offer some other comforts. First off, each one has a thermostat. That means they all work separately. If the master bedroom takes longer to heat up, for instance, it gets a little extra push.
And, each one is whisper-quiet. Literally. Even at full power, they produce the same amount of noise as leaves rustling.
Now, we’ve looked a lot at how all this equipment works together to save energy. Next, we’ll see how they save money, too.
With a green home, the environment comes first. But, finances usually aren’t far behind. Fortunately, going green almost means saving green. The kind that’s in your wallet, that is.
Let’s go back to those panels on the roof. When you’re using a renewable energy source, you’re not paying for gas, oil or electric. But, nowadays you can actually get a utility company to pay you.
This happens when the panels generate more electricity than the home needs. That power goes back to the grid. It’s then used by other homes that need electricity. And, the power company pays you for providing it.
And, while they’re at it, they’ll pay you for installing a system like this, too. There’s a big push nationwide for people to install energy-efficient HVAC equipment. The Fox River Valley is no different.
Here, ComEd offers rebates for most ductless installations. Our homeowners got an $800 rebate toward their heating and cooling system.
That’s a nice chunk of the installation cost. And, over time the system will pay for itself. All the while, our homeowners will rest easy knowing they’re comfortable year-round and helping the environment at the same time.