Furnace and Heating Advices and Tips
With the proper furnace selection, your central air-conditioning bills can be lower too. With these high-efficiency products available, many homeowners are replacing their outdated furnaces. Replacement costs can run anywhere from $1700 to $3500, depending upon the complexity of installation.
High-efficiency models represent only about $500 to $1000 more in material costs than mid-efficiency units-- and some utilities offer rebates that cover much of the difference. The payback period depends on the price of the system, local energy costs, climate and the difference in efficiency between the old and new furnaces.
IF YOU BUY HIGH EFFICIENCY FURNACE WITH 95% OR MORE AFUE YOU CAN QUALIFY FOR FEDERAL TAX CREDIT.
Compared with a 17-year-old furnace, a new furnace can save the typical family hundreds of dollars per year. Based on the efficiency of your old furnace, probably 60% at best, a new furnace can cut your utility bills by 40%.
Not only will you have lower utility bills, but the comfort and quiet operation. You can choose from two basic designs of furnaces: condensing and non-condensing. The condensing models are the most efficient and the best choice for most homeowners. The efficiencies of condensing models range from about 90% to over 95%.
These models are very efficient, and only little heat is lost. Some models also offer sealed combustion for better efficiency. For the ultimate in comfort and efficiency, but at a higher initial cost, is a two-stage heat output furnace with a variable-speed blower. This type of blower is needed if you want the best central air-conditioning.
In all but the coldest weather, the gas burners operate at a low heat level. This allows the furnace to run more continuously with fewer uncomfortable on/off cycles. The blower also runs slower and quieter at this low level. During very cold weather, it automatically switches to high heat.
If your budget allows, also install a quality air cleaner. Since a two-stage unit runs more, the air cleaner is more effective for allergy sufferers.
How High Efficiency Furnaces Work
These furnaces have an additional heat exchanger that takes the hot exhaust gases and extracts any available heat before it is sent outdoors. A high efficiency condensing furnace takes this extracted heat and condenses it into water and drains it. The remaining cool gases are exhausted to the outdoors. By doing this, there is no hot air escaping from your home. In addition, the venting can be done with a PVC pipe rather than up a heat resistant flue in the roof. It also reduces the amount of pollutants released into the air.
Rating for Furnace Efficiency
All furnaces are rated for efficiency and the measurement is called the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. This measurement is based on how much energy is converted to heat and how much is exhausted with the gasses that go outdoors. An AFUE of 80 means that 80% of the fuel is used to warm your home and 20% is exhausted. High efficiency furnaces register an AFUE of 90% or better. Mid efficiency have a rating of 78% to 89%. Gas furnaces are the most efficient and some can achieve a rating of 95% whereas oil furnaces with ratings over 80% are considered good. Older furnaces have about a 60% efficiency rating.
If you use electricity to heat your home, consider installing an energy efficient heat pump system. Heat pumps are the most efficient for of electric heating in moderate climates, providing three times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity. There are three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source and ground source. They collect heat from the air, water or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside. Heat pumps do double duty as a central air conditioner. They can also cool your home by collecting the heat inside your house and effectively pumping it outside. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating as much as 30% to 40%.