Air conditioners are cooler than ever.
Know the basics of how they work.

The compressor is the heart of the A/C. It pumps refrigerant through two coils — a condenser and an evaporator — to remove heat and humidity from your house. New features in each of these parts can help you control costs without sacrificing comfort.

Keep in mind that bigger isn't always better.

Sizing is key when it comes to A/C. A contractor will look at your windows, floor space, ceiling height, insulation, local climate, cooling requirements, and other factors to calculate the correct size for your house.

How efficiency affects cooling costs
Furnace technology has advanced.
Know the basics of how a furnace works.

It uses energy (natural gas, propane, or heating oil) to make and circulate heat through a series of air ducts and vents. The burner, blower, and heat exchanger are where advanced options are available.

Don't assume your existing one is the right size.

If it's too big, the furnace will cycle on and off, wasting energy and money, and wearing out the furnace. A contractor can make sure you get a system that's correctly sized for your house.

How efficiency affects heating costs
"Many of the new HVAC systems can be controlled remotely from a smart phone. Save energy during the workday by adjusting it to your comfort before you head home."
Matt Mauzy
Your ducts are a hidden secret to savings.

It's easy to forget about ductwork since you don't see it, but heating and A/C rely on it to effectively deliver warm and cool air. The less ducts leak air or allow heat transfer, the more efficient your whole system will be.

Good ductwork can lower equipment costs.

More efficient ducts can also reduce the size, and therefore the cost, of the cooling and heating system you need, which means you could save money on both equipment and future energy bills.

Sizing, sealing, and insulating are key.

A contractor can check your existing ductwork and recommend the size, sealant and insulation that are best for your home.

Here's what makes new thermostats so smart.
You can access them from anywhere.

With remote access to your system from a smartphone or the Internet, you can control your heating and cooling system from anywhere, allowing you to adjust settings and save energy when you don't need it. 

They learn your schedule.

Over time, the thermostat learns your schedule and preferences and automatically adjusts for you. Some even have sensors that can tell when no one's home and lower the temperature automatically.

It could save you 20%.

By changing the way you consume energy, a smart thermostat could save you 20% on heating and cooling bills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Other ways to keep your home comfy all year round

Mini Split Heat pump
Mini-split heat pump
Heats and cools without ducts

The system is easy to install and highly efficient, which makes it an affordable alternative to a central heating and cooling system in many areas. Mini-splits also help avoid the issue of energy lost through leaky ducts.

How it works

In cooling mode, a mini-split heat pump works in much the same way as an A/C. It also has a reversing valve that allows the refrigerant to flow in both directions, which provides both heating and cooling from the same system.

Mini Split AC
Mini-split A/C
Cools just where you need it

Mounted on the wall or ceiling, these provide targeted, zoned cooling when traditional central A/C is expensive or difficult to install.

How it works

Single-zone mini-splits are available for cooling one room, while multizone systems connect one outdoor unit to several indoor units for cooling larger areas. The indoor units include a fan and evaporator coil in the same cabinet.

Evaporative cooler
A great choice for hot, dry climates

Also known as a swamp cooler, this can be a cost-effective cooling option. It typically costs less to install and uses about a quarter of the energy an A/C uses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

How it works

Cools hot, dry outdoor air by passing it through water-soaked pads and circulating it through the house.

Geothermal heat pump
Taps into the earth's temp

These pumps can be expensive to install but are among the most efficient heating and cooling systems available, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

How it works

Circulates water or refrigerant through looped underground pipes, pulling heat from the ground for heating and pushing heat to the ground for cooling.

Air source heat pump
A reliable, efficient choice when the temps don't dip too low

It typically has two parts: an indoor unit called an air handler and an outdoor unit similar to a central A/C, but called a heat pump.

How it works

Uses electricity to move heat from one place to another. In heating mode, it moves heat from the outside air inside. In cooling mode, it takes heat from the inside air and moves it outdoors.

Whole house fan
Whole house fan
Bring in cool air, push out the heat

Installed between the attic and living space, this is a good add-on to a central A/C. In moderate climates, it can even replace it.

How it works

Pushes hot air out through the attic and roof and draws in cooler evening and morning air through the open windows.

Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans
Keep you feeling cool

The improved motors and blade design of Energy Star-certified fans move air more efficiently, keeping you cooler and more comfortable.

How it works

Fan blades turn and push air downward, creating a downdraft and making a room feel much cooler.

Attic Fan
Attic fan
Pushes out superheated afternoon air

This type of fan doesn't fully cool the house, but it can help keep it cooler by limiting the heat coming from the attic through the ceiling.

Things to consider

To avoid losing energy through these fans, your attic must be well-sealed from the rest of the house and have adequate vents.

Recovery Ventilator
Heat & energy recovery ventilators
Pull in fresh air, push out stale air

These high-efficiency whole-house ventilation systems can boost indoor air quality and energy savings.

How it works

Two ventilation ducts run next to one another, one that brings in cool, fresh air, and the other carries out moist, stale air.

Vent fans
Ventilation fans
Remove unwanted moisture and odors

New, energy-efficient ventilating fans are available and can use 65% less energy than standard models, according to U.S. Department of Energy. If the fan includes an efficient light, it can save even more.

How it works

A motor powers a fan, which draws stale, moist air up through the fan and into ductwork where it's pushed out of the house.

Creates steam or hot water for heating

Boilers are common in many older homes, but more efficient versions are now available.

How it works

Heats water to either produce steam and send it through pipes to steam radiators or hot water to baseboard radiators or radiant floor heating.

Biomass furnace
It uses plants (usually wood) as fuel

It's a cleaner, more efficient version of the traditional wood stove that can be used to heat one room or the whole house.

How it works

It operates like a standard furnace, but is fueled by wood pellets, chips or logs instead of natural gas, oil or electricity.

Hydronic radiant heating
Supplies heat to floor, walls, or ceiling

Boilers are common in many older homes, but more efficient versions are now available.

How it works

Heats water to either produce steam and send it through pipes to steam radiators or hot water to baseboard radiators or radiant floor heating.