• Heating and Cooling
  • Electricity
  • Home Envelope

Sizing up your House as a System

By The Foreman Household

Well, the debate on if size matters has been ongoing for years now 😉

In the case of your home heating and cooling, size really does matter!

When we replaced our heat pump six years ago, we chose the model based on the size of our home.  At the time we thought it made sense, but through the home envelope and heating and cooling challenges we have learned so much more!  It is far more important to choose your heating and ventilation unit based on family needs vs. home size.  Speaking of size, a heat pump’s size for example, which is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units), determines how much space it can heat or cool.

So how do you know what size you need?  Well, first you must consider that your house is a system.  An interactive, multicomponent system.  The house as a system includes the home envelope, the mechanical systems and the occupants.  All components interact to affect the heating and cooling needs of the house.  In our home envelope challenge we learned that the single most important retrofit activity is air sealing!  The more airtight your home envelope is, the less you will need to heat or cool it to maintain a constant temperature!  And needing less means saving more!

So, while we are tightening up our air sealing by replacing our windows and doors and insulating some of the basement foundation, we are also pausing to update our heat pump (our mechanical ventilation heating and cooling system).  Once we are more airtight, we will revisit as we may only need a Honda, not a Hummer!

In the meantime, we (the occupants) plan to utilize other methods to complement our heating and cooling, including energy efficient ceiling fans.  An Energy Star certified ceiling fan with lights uses 60% less energy, on average, than a standard model.  We also learned that ceiling fans use about one-tenth the energy of an air conditioner!  More energy savings=more carbon savings! 

When using a ceiling fan properly, you can adjust the thermostat by 2 degrees!  Since the air is only being circulated around, we have also learned that the size of ceiling fans matters as well!  We are now looking to replace the fans in the kids’ rooms, especially Sara’s as it is huge…and she has the smallest room!  Time for a smaller fan and a smaller cost.

And speaking of smaller, DC motors tend to be smaller than AC motors and thus run more efficiently!  Ceiling fans with DC motors often have six speeds which is a great tip when out browsing!  For more great tips on using your ceiling fan efficiently, check out Drew busting some ceiling fan myths!  He is what you call an “expert”.  


Written by The Foreman Household

Read more of their stories as they vie with the other seven households to reduce their carbon footprint.

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