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    HVAC Tips & Tricks

    Most homeowners are concerned about energy efficiency these days, which is a good reason to buy a new furnace. However, replacing your existing one may be an option, too, depending on your situation. An older heating system is less efficient and can also be a lot noisier than the newer models and is more likely to have problems. However, paying for repairs to your furnace can be costly, and often it just makes sense to buy a brand new furnace.

    A new furnace is a major purchase, and of course, you want to make sure you buy something reliable that meets your needs. A high-efficiency furnace has an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) factor of at least 94 percent, and this rating is definitely something to consider when shopping for a new furnace. You can expect an AFUE rating of between 60 and 65 percent if you buy a conventional furnace. However, it’s estimated that between 35 and 40 percent of every dollar you spend on gas is wasted if you purchase a conventional furnace. As the name suggests, a high efficiency furnace is the most cost effective and energy efficient option; reducing the amount of wasted energy is also beneficial for the environment. A conventional furnace is the worst option for efficiency, while a mid efficiency furnace falls somewhere between the two. Buying a high efficiency furnace instead of a conventional one can potentially mean saving up to 38 percent in energy costs. All in all, if you’re looking for a sensible buy, go for a high efficiency heater.

    A modulating, single stage and two stage heaters are the three main types of high and mid efficiency heaters. Keep in mind that your most energy efficient solution isn’t a single stage furnace, as it will operate at full capacity even if your home’s needs only needs it to operate at about 50 percent of its capacity. And it keeps running at full capacity until you turn it off. If your goal is to keep just one uniform temperature throughout your home, the single stage heater isn’t your best choice. If better energy efficiency is your concern, it makes more sense to go with a two stage furnace; it operates at full capacity (its second stage) only when needed, and after running at 65 percent capacity in its first stage. Your home will seem more comfortable if you opt for a two stage furnace, as you won’t have any issues with the temperature jumping from one level to another. Temperature jumps aren’t needed if your furnace is heating your home at the same level, which also helps to save energy.

    If you don’t want to hear your furnace when its on, and would like to enjoy lower operating costs, a modulating furnace is a good choice for anyone buying a mid or high efficiency model. You’ll potentially save a lot of money over a year on heating costs, as the variable speed and ECM (electronically commutated motor) help to make the entire unit a lot more efficient. In fact, you can expect to see a reduction in your energy usage of about 80 percent, which is a big appeal for most homeowners. An ECM blower motor also means a quieter unit and a more comfortable home, with up to 16 percent more efficiency, as the heat is modulated and will prevent air satification. Many homes have the problem of air satification, in which the cold air drops and the warm air rises, and you can stop that from happening with a blower motor.

    It costs more to fix your furnace when it breaks down than it does to carry out regular maintenance on it, and regular maintenance will save you money, ensure a consistently smooth operation and help you get the most out of it. Clean coils and filters are an important part of looking after your furnace, and the pumps, exhaust fans and burner should all be kept in proper working order. Pipes that are broken or frozen are just one unwanted consequence of not being able to heat your home if your furnace isn’t working properly. It’s often a good idea to have the peace of mind that extra coverage on your furnace’s parts can provide, and many companies offer this. Regular furnace maintenance should be carried out any time, although one of the best times to do routine maintenance is just before you start using it in the colder months. It’s essential that your furnace works as it should and that you and your family are comfortable and safe, and maintaining your furnace regularly is one of the best ways to make sure that happens.

    The writer of this article is an experienced HVAC technician and many households have a residential heating system in place that has been installed by the author. To make sure you are informed, take a look at the most recent article on the costs of replacing the furnace in your home.

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