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Ideas & Tips

Know Your Fuel Source

Typically, you don’t get to choose your home’s heating fuel source: you either have a natural gas line, propane tank, oil tank, or an electric system. Home furnaces connect to a single fuel source whereas; oil furnaces and gas furnaces work a little differently. Natural gas furnaces are the most energy efficient; oil furnaces are second-most efficient.

Choose a High Efficiency Furnace (AFUE)

When choosing a furnace for your home the energy efficiency is measured in AFUE percentage. AFUE is a abbreviation for, Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. Your furnace’s AFUE percentage tells you how much of the fuel is converted to heat. The higher the AFUE, the higher the efficiency is in your furnace. When choosing energy efficient products not only are you going green but you will also save money on your energy bills. Gas furnaces generally have the highest energy efficiency, with anything over a 95 percent AFUE being extremely good. With oil furnaces, any AFUE rating over 80 percent is very good.

Besides fuel type, another big contributor to AFUE is the type of blower or fan in your home furnace. A single speed will be costlier to operate compared to a variable speed fan. It also allows the furnace to heat the area more cost effectively by gently blowing comfortable warm air, rather than blasting uncomfortable amounts of hot air. A variable speed fan will operate at a comfortable temperature. You can maximize the airflow of your fan by sticking to a regular filter replacement schedule. If you have a variable speed fan, it would be to your advantage to have it operate in constant fan mode, which will keep your whole home at a comfortable temperature and have you spending less.

For every $100 spent this winter running an 80% AFUE furnace, you can save money by upgrading to a more energy efficient furnace.

How much could you save For Every $100 Spent Heating

80% AFUE (baseline) — Save: $0

80% AFUE with Variable Speed Fan — Save: $13

90% AFUE Save: — $16

95% AFUE Save: — $23

3. Consider Health and Air Quality

If allergies and asthma are an issue in your family, upgrading to a home furnace with an optional air filter or air purifier may help lessen some of the symptoms. Air purifiers can remove allergens such as, pet dander, mold, and any pollen still lingering from the spring. The best air cleaners can also remove viruses and other microscopic organisms as small as 0.1 microns. Finding a unit that both traps and kills these organisms adds an additional level of air quality.

And if your family wants to avoid static electricity in the winter, you’ll want a home furnace system with an optional humidifier that intelligently monitors air moisture. Use of a ventilator can also add pre-filtered fresh air into your home with minimal effect on heating efficiency.

Consider the Brand and Reliability when choosing a Furnace

Look for a brand with longevity, stability, and reliability. When it’s below 10 degrees outside, keeping your family warm is a safety matter. So be sure to look for a company with a long history because chances are that that company has invested a lot of time and money on making products that are innovating and have the latest technology to ensure that their products are safe, reliable, and energy efficient.

Look for Local HVAC Dealers and well-trained technicians

When choosing a home furnace, you’re also choosing that company’s network of local HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) dealers. You want a trained technician to install your high efficiency furnace, promptly service any repairs you might have and stock all the right parts (such as replacement filters). And that local furnace dealer and technician must have the training and expertise to help you choose the right system, and be available for routine maintenance and emergency calls.

Central Air Conditioner Buying Tips

The type and size of air conditioner you need depends on your climate and cooling loads. Evaporative coolers are practical in hot, arid regions such as the southwest. For other regions, compressor-driven air-conditioning systems are the only choice.

When you are shopping for a central air conditioner, look for a SEER rating higher than 13.00 SEER.

If you already have a forced-air heating system, you may be able to tie an air conditioner into existing ducts, depending on their size and your home’s relative heating and cooling loads. A good HVAC contractor can do the calculations for you.

Proper sizing and installation are key elements in determining the air conditioner efficiency. Too large of a unit will not adequately remove humidity. Too small unit will not be able to maintain a comfortable temperature on the hottest days. Improper unit location, lack of duct insulation, improper duct sealing, and incorrect refrigerant charge can greatly diminish efficiency.

When buying a central air conditioner, look for a system with a fan-only switch so you can use the unit for night time ventilation to substantially reduce air-conditioning costs; a filter check light to remind you to check the filter after a predetermined number of operating hours; and an automatic-delay fan switch to turn off the fan a few minutes after the compressor turns off.

Look for a unit with quiet operation

If you need or want to replace your existing air conditioner’s outdoor (compressor) unit, make sure the indoor (blower coil) unit is compatible with the new outdoor unit. A highly efficient outdoor unit will not achieve its rated efficiency if paired with an older blower coil.