Upgrade your home HVAC system early and save cash… Comfortably!
Just like off-season traveling can boost your travel budget, so too can taking advantage of the off-season to maintain or upgrade your home HVAC system. It’s just like when hotels or airlines have vacancies to fill, and are willing to offer discounts to prevent them from going unfilled. Actually, it’s even better, because similar to car manufacturers and auto dealers who have to make room for this year’s model, HVAC manufacturers and contractors, must move their inventory before they can load up on the latest and greatest models too. So there are huge deals to be had if you’re in the market for a system upgrade.
HVAC manufacturers and contractors are essentially trapped in weather purgatory during this time of the year. The long cold winter is quickly drawing to a close, and pretty much whatever was going to break down for the most part has already failed. After months of prolonged frigid temperatures, gloomy days, plus storm after storm, most clients just need a mental health break and aren’t thinking about how to turn this off-season weather into a financial opportunity.
Economics-101: The law of supply and demand states that when something is in high demand and low supply, the price goes up, and vice-versa. This is exactly how a weather driven business like HVAC works. When it’s freezing cold, the phones are ringing off the hook, and prices are at normal in-season levels; i.e. the dead of winter. And, when it’s blistering hot, the same thing happens; i.e. the middle of summer. But what happens during the in-between times, when it’s not freezing or blistering? The phones quiet down, business slows, sometimes grinds to a halt, and the demand goes away, opening up the opportunity for savvy customers to profit from planning.
Unfortunately, most people don’t think about their HVAC that is until it breaks down; sort of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. To make matters worse, when’s it usually going to break down? Yup, you guessed it, the next hot or cold wave, when demand is peaking again, along with prices. Do you see the dilemma?
So, what can you do? It’s simple, Plan Ahead! If your HVAC system is reaching it’s normal life expectancy, generally about 15-years old give or take, it may be time to consider upgrading it before it breaks down, and you end up throwing good money after bad on emergency repairs. Retiring an older, less efficient system during the off-peak season will save you lots of money on your upfront investment. Plus, as these units age they lose efficiency and capacity like all mechanical things do, so your new HVAC system will also lower your energy bills and improve your comfort.
And there you have it, the insider scoop.
Ben Franklin was the original energy conservation pioneer.
Ben Franklin was an original energy conservation pioneer. He’s credited with conceptualizing Daylight Saving Time while overseas in Paris back in 1784. His original intentions were to conserve candles. Our country officially adopted DST during the spring of 1916 as a way to conserve vital energy resources during World War 1. Following America’s lead, many other countries followed suit shortly thereafter. Today DST is implemented in over 70 countries, affecting over a billion people! Conserving our precious energy resources is not a new idea, even our founding fathers understood saving energy was important… and patriotic too.
Heating Efficiency & Replacement Tips
Space heating is the largest energy expense in most homes, accounting for two-thirds of annual energy bills in cold climates.
Why Buy an Energy Efficient Furnace/Boiler?
Heating is the largest energy expense in most homes, accounting for almost two-thirds of annual energy bills in colder areas of the country. Heating systems in the United States emit a billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and about 12% of the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emitted by the nation. Reducing energy use for heating is the single most effective way to reduce your home’s contribution to global environmental problems.
Conservation efforts and a new high-efficiency heating system can often cut your pollution output and fuel bills in half. Upgrading your furnace or boiler from an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) of 56% to 90% in an average cold-climate house will save 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions if you heat with gas or 2.5 tons if you heat with oil and will cut your heating bill by almost 40%.
If your furnace or boiler is old, worn out, inefficient, or significantly oversized, the simplest solution is to replace it with a modern high-efficiency model. Old coal burners that were switched over to oil or gas are prime candidates for replacement, as well as gas furnaces without electronic (pilotless) ignition.
A central furnace or boiler’s efficiency is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). AFUE is a measure of how efficient the appliance is in using fossil fuel (gas or oil) or electricity (for an electric furnace) over a typical year of use.
An all-electric furnace or boiler has no flue loss through a chimney. The AFUE rating for an all-electric furnace or boiler is between 95% and 100%. The lower values are for units installed outdoors because they have greater jacket heat loss.
The efficiency of manufactured furnaces is governed by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 and regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy. The minimum allowed AFUE rating for a noncondensing, fossil-fueled, warm-air furnace is 78%; the rating for a fossil-fueled boiler is 80%; and the rating for a gas-fueled steam boiler is 75%. A condensing furnace or boiler condenses the water vapor produced in the combustion process and captures the heat released from this condensation. The AFUE rating for a condensing unit can be much higher (by more than 10 percentage points) than a noncondensing furnace. Although a condensing unit costs more than a noncondensing unit, the condensing unit can save you money in fuel costs over the 15 to 20-year life of the unit.
Tips for Buying a New Furnace/Boiler
- If you live in a cold climate, it usually makes sense to invest in the highest efficiency system available. In milder climates with lower annual heating costs, the extra investment required to go from 80% to 90%-95% efficiency may be hard to justify.
- When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers, look for dependability. Buy a system with a good warranty and a reputable company to back it up.
- When buying gas and oil systems, specify sealed combustion. Sealed-combustion appliances bring outside air directly into the burner and exhaust flue gases (combustion products) directly to the outside, without the need for a draft hood or damper. They generally burn more efficiently and pose no risk of introducing dangerous combustion gases into your house. With nonsealed-combustion appliances, back-drafting of combustion gases can be a big problem, especially in tightly-sealed modern homes.
Tips for Lowering Your Furnace/Boiler’s Energy Usage
- Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
- Keep the temperature fairly constant, as frequent changes will utilize more energy by causing unnecessary cycling on and off. Setting back the temperature at night, however, is recommended.
- Clean or replace furnace filters once a month or as needed.
- Oil-fired boilers should be professionally cleaned and tuned once a year. Gas-fired equipment needs to be checked every other year.
- Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
- Keep draperies and shades on south-facing windows open during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home; close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
- Close the door to an unoccupied room or area that is isolated from the rest of the house and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heat for that room or area.
- Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely. Turn these fans off as soon as they are no longer needed. In about 1 hour, these fans can pull out a house-full of warmed or cooled air. They can also pull dangerous furnace combustion gasses into the house in some situations.
- Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
- Do not use duct tape to repair leaky ducts. Standard duct tape has been shown unreliable in sealing duct leaks. Various mastics or non-cloth-backed tapes are preferable.