We have all been made painfully aware that our utility costs are on the rise. Our bills have increased considerably since last year, or even last month. I think we can all agree that they will increase even more, and more, and more.

But there are ways to decrease your energy usage. One of them is to replace your older heating and cooling system. If your existing system is more than ten years old, it is probably a real energy hog. New equipment can cut your gas and electricity usage by 40% or more.

There are new furnace s that are as high as 96% efficient (AFUE). Your older furnace may have only been about 50% to 60% efficient, when it was new. Your older air conditioner may be as much as half of the efficiency rating of a new high efficiency unit. This means that if you replace your equipment, with a properly installed, high efficiency heating and cooling system, you can reduce your monthly bills by a significant amount, and also avoid the inevitable future repairs bills.

Replacing the furnace or the air conditioner only, will not insure lower bills. Other components in the system such as the ducts, flue pipe, copper refrigerant lines, the electrical circuit, and the cooling coil all need to be checked, and possibly replaced, to give you the total efficiency ratings and energy savings. Ask your contractor to show you a computer printout of the amount of savings that you can expect monthly, yearly, and over the expected life of the system. There are also rebates available from some of the utilities, if you install high efficiency equipment.

Always make sure that you are dealing with a contractor licensed with the California State Contractors License Board. You can cal them at 1-800-321-CSLB, or visit them on the web at www.cslb.ca.gov/. Permits are always required for this type of work so that you can be sure that the work was done properly, and to local codes. Don’t sign any contract until you are certain about everything written in the contract, and never give any contractor more than a 10% down payment.

It is a given that our bills will increase, but your do have some control about how much they will increase. By investing in a new high efficiency system now, your new equipment will almost pay for itself!

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