a piggy bank

Is a High Efficiency Furnace Worth the Price Tag?

Everybody enjoys saving money and being comfortable. More and more people are becoming conscious of their carbon emissions and want to cut those back as well. Something that could help a person meet those three goals at the same time is a high efficiency furnace. However, they have a hefty price tag when compared to their less efficient rivals. But are they worth it?

In this article, we’ll explain what the differences are between low and high efficiency furnaces and where you can find savings with either choice. You should feel informed and confidant with purchasing a new furnace by the end of this article.

 

How Manufacturer’s Grade Efficiency

text saying 100% on the side of a green building

Before we get into the meat of this article, we need to break down how efficiency ratings work. The furnace’s AFUE rating shows how efficient it is. The AFUE rating is the percentage of how much fuel gets converted to heat that enters your home. Therefore, a furnace with a 95% AFUE rating is more efficient than a furnace with an 80% AFUE rating.

The minimum AFUE that you will find on the market today is 80%. High efficiency furnaces are furnaces that have an AFUE above 90%.

We have a blog post going into more detail on AFUE.

You can also tell what kind of furnace you have by giving it a visual inspection. If your furnace has a PVC venting & drain, then it’s high efficiency. If it has a metal vent with no drain, then its low efficiency.

 

The Difference in Cost

The biggest reason that some people choose a less efficient furnace over a more efficient model is the initial price. High efficiency furnaces are going to cost more than less efficient models and there’s no way around that. This price difference can be in the thousands of dollars.

It’s a Long-Term Investment

So, if a high efficiency furnace is the more costly option, why are they advertised as money savers? It’s because an efficient furnace will save you money in the long term. An efficient furnace uses much less energy than their counterparts and will therefore lower your energy bill.

Furnaces have an estimated lifetime of 20 years. If you purchase your furnace with the goal of saving money over those 20 years, you will end up saving more money than the difference you spent versus a less an efficient furnace.

Not for House Flippers

However, if you only plan on staying in a house for a few years, or are flipping property, then you might not get the same value from a high efficiency furnace. Yes, it will add more value to the home than a low efficiency furnace, but it might not change the sale value by a noticeable amount. If you’re only looking at short-term use, then a low efficiency furnace may be what you want.

 

The Difference in Speed

Another difference to look for when purchasing a new furnace is the speed at which they operate.

Single-stage furnaces are also called single-speed furnaces, meaning they only have an off or on setting. This makes it less efficient. It’s using the maximum amount of fuel and energy for the smallest change in temperature.

Two-speed or variable speed furnaces are the upgrade to a single-stage furnace. That means that they can use lower speeds to provide smaller amounts of heating. This results in less fuel and energy usage to provide a more specific level of heating.

While it is possible to get a low-efficiency furnace as a variable-speed model, a high-efficiency variable speed furnace uses the least energy to deliver the most heat.

 

Considerations

There are a few more variables that you should consider before making a choice. This can affect whether the savings from a high efficiency are immediately noticeable.

Climate

rolling mist over trees

How hot or cold the region that you live in is affects how often you need to use your furnace and for how long. If you live in a colder climate, you will naturally use your furnace more frequently and require more drastic heating for your home. A high efficiency furnace will provide that heat to your home using much less natural gas throughout the entire time you’re using it.

That means that if you live in a state with long, harsh winters, you will notice an immediate difference in your energy bill after switching to a high efficiency furnace.

House Size

If you have a large house, your furnace will need to use more fuel and energy to heat all that space. Using a high efficiency furnace will use less fuel than a low efficiency furnace to heat the same amount of space.

Tax Credit

If you live in the United States, the tax code incentivizes you to make your home energy efficient. One factor that is considered is how energy efficient the HVAC system is. By investing in an energy efficient furnace, you might be eligible for a tax credit. For specifics, you can check with the IRS.

 

Other Advantages to High Efficiency Furnaces

Beyond just using less gas and energy, there are additional benefits to choosing a high efficiency furnace. Manufacturers invest a lot in the additional features of these furnaces, and these features can provide more functions and uses around your home.

More Modern Technology

Daikin 1 HVAC Thermostat

Typically, if you want to have your HVAC system integrated into a smart home, you’ll have to look at a more efficient furnace. A smart thermostat is the most important piece of technology for a smart home. However, to get the most of the thermostat’s smart settings, you’ll want a furnace with variable speed settings. Those variable speeds will allow for better precision when programming your thermostat.

Necessary for Zoning

If you want to use HVAC zoning, you will need to have a two-speed furnace, but a variable-speed system is preferable.

Zoning is a method of running an HVAC system that manages temperatures in different parts of your home separately. This is effective at maintaining consistent temperatures in multistory or large homes.

A furnace with multiple speed settings is required to get the specific levels of heating and airflow needed to adjust one section of your home without blasting too much air through the rest of your ducts.

Better Home Comfort

As we stated earlier, a single-speed furnace will only run at max power. High efficiency furnaces that are variable speed can produce heat at lower levels of power. While both pieces of equipment will bring your home to the desired temperature, you may notice that the efficient furnace is more consistent.

A single speed furnace can overheat parts of your home by a few degrees. It’ll pump warm air at full power until the thermostat detects a change in temperature. Your thermostat, only being in one location, cannot detect the change in temperature in other rooms. This can cause side rooms that are already warm being over heated.

A multi-speed furnace will only pump enough air to change the temperature to what you have set the thermostat to. This is not a perfect system, as it still relies on a thermostat that is in a single location or in a specified zone. However, this means that instead of that warm room getting the full force of a furnace, it’s only getting a small amount. Resulting in more consistent and even temperatures throughout your home.

 

Final Word

To sum it all up, there are valid reasons to purchase either a low efficiency or high efficiency furnace.

If you plan on sticking in your current home for a while or want to take advantage of a smart system with modern technology, then an efficient furnace will absolutely be worth the investment. You will immediately notice savings on your monthly natural gas bills that are sometimes drastic. Over time, that savings will pay back the cost of the furnace. You will also get better functionality out of your furnace as part of a smart home system.

However, if your current home is only a short-term situation, then you may not get enough use out of your furnace to save more money than you spent.

If you are planning on flipping the property you are purchasing the furnace for, it won’t add enough value to be worth it.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need decided if a high-efficiency furnace is right for you. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

12 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your House Warm This Winter

As fall and winter approach, the jackets come out of the closet, pumpkin and peppermint coffee take over social media timelines, and we turn on our home furnaces. Depending on the type of furnace you have, this can mean an increase in the natural gas, electric, or oil bill. However, this does not need to be a sizeable increase. There are steps you can take to keep your house warm in the winter and reduce your utility bill.

In this post, we’ll explain 14 tips and tricks that you can do to keep your home heating as efficient as possible. We hope these tips will help you stay comfortable during the cold months of the year and keep your utility spending to a minimum.

Most of these tips are simple steps you can take right now! Some of them are longer projects that may involve help from professionals and some money. However, don’t discount those ideas as they can cause much improved quality of life in your home and can pay for themselves in the long term.

 

1. Replace Dirty Air Filters

An Air Filter covered in dirt

The first tip is universal advice that can aid furnace owners year-round. Make sure your furnace filter is clean and replace it if it is dirty. Furnace’s need air flow to heat your home. The most common killer of air flow is a dirty air filter.

Different sizes of filters have recommended replacement timelines. As a minimum, check your filter every three months. If you see any visible dirt or build up on the filter, replace it.

 

2. Fall Maintenance

Most manufacturers recommend that you have your HVAC system serviced annually. That's why we service HVAC equipment twice a year. We'll come out your home once in the spring for the cooling equipment, and once in the fall for the heating equipment.

During your fall tune-up, your HVAC service technician will replace your filter, check your duct work and air flow, and inspect all the parts in your furnace. They’ll make sure all the sensors are clean and working and that your igniting elements are working.

If you have not had your furnace serviced in fall, then you could be at risk of equipment failure or overpaying on utilities. Consider contacting your local HVAC professionals to get a quote for a heating system maintenance.

 

3. Change Direction of Ceiling Fan

A ceiling fan in a living room

If you have a ceiling fan, you may have noticed that it has a directional switch. On its default setting, a ceiling fan will move counterclockwise to create a small breeze to help chill a room. When a ceiling fan is reversed and rotates clockwise, it will move hot air pockets trapped near the ceiling and force it to warm the cool air in the lower portion of a room.

 

4. Don’t Block Vents and Registers

Having to rearrange your furniture can be a pain, but it might be necessary if your furniture is blocking your vents and registers. Those little grates on your floor or walls are where the heat from your HVAC system comes out. If you have a couch on top of a register, it will absorb all that heat before it can warm your house.

 

5. Let Sunlight In

Keep your blinds and curtains open when the sun is out. The sun produces natural heat and letting that into your home can reduce the amount of your work your furnace or heat pump has to do.

 

6. Close Curtains at Night

Once the sun goes down, the heat inside your home will want to escape through your windows. Having thick curtains to cover your windows will act as another layer of insulation and trap heat inside.

 

7. Insulate and Seal Windows

a window looking over a lake

Heat loves to travel in and out of windows. If you have cracks around the window frame, that gives heat an easy path out of your home. You may need to fill those cracks with some caulk or have a contractor give them an inspection.

To further insulate your windows, you can find shrink wrap or plastic wrap kits. Follow the package instructions for installing these kits. These kits allow sunlight to enter your home and air but will make it harder for that heat to escape.

 

8. Open Dampers

If you have dampers in your duct work, make sure they are open. You might see that it has summer or winter settings, or open or closed settings. Keeping your damper open will allow the airflow to bring heat to all of your house.

 

9. Seal Your Fireplace Flue

If you have a fireplace, make sure that the flue doesn’t have any cracks where heat could escape. A lot of heat and some dangerous fumes will escape out of a cracked chimney.

If you’re not using your fireplace, close the flue off with a seal or plug. That can prevent a lot of heat from escaping. When it’s wintry out, consider not using your fireplace at all. Often, a fireplace will allow more heat to escape the home than it will generate. That means your furnace will have to work that much harder to keep up.

 

10. Program Your Thermostat

You can actually heat your home more efficiently with smart thermostat programs. Setting your thermostat to run parallel with the ambient temperature can make your HVAC system run more efficiently. Your furnace needs time to warm the air before blowing it into your home. It can heat that air by 7 or 10 degrees quicker than it can heat it by 20 degrees. Setting your thermostat to a cooler temperature at night and in the morning and a warmer temperature at noon can cause more efficient performance.

 

11. Insulate Your Attic and Ducts

This is where we get into the tips that involve larger projects. If your attic or duct work does not have adequate insulation, then you can leak heat, sometimes before it even gets inside your home. If your attic is easily accessible and your duct work comprises metal piping, then you could do your own insulation. We have an earlier post with one of our installers showing you how to install insulation.

If your duct work is the flexible kind, then it should come fully insulated. If that insulation is damaged, it’s best to have an HVAC professional repair it.

 

12. Upgrade Old Equipment

If your furnace is older than its expected lifetime, it may be time to replace it. Furnaces lose efficiency for every year that they are running. They have a lot of moving parts. Natural wear and tear is unavoidable. This reduces how efficient they are at creating heat and increases the possibility of something breaking. Your furnace will also be out of warranty, so if something breaks, you’ll have to pay the full cost of repairs.

Compare your furnace type to this list to see if it’s past its lifetime.

  • Oil - 15 years
  • Gas - 20 years
  • Electric - 30 years

 

Save Energy While Staying Warm

This may seem counterintuitive, but this can help keep your utility bill lower while your HVAC system keeps your house warm. Research shows that, for the average person, it’s hard to notice a difference of a few degrees, but your utility bill will be around 1% less for each degree lower you set your thermostat. So, you may not feel a difference between having your thermostat at 72 or 69 but you could save around 3% or more on your utilities.

Get More Energy Saving Tips to Keep Your House Warm

If you want more tips on how to save energy while keeping your house warm. The Department of Energy has a website full of helpful information.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to keep your house warm in the winter. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

A 97 efficiency AFUE sticker

What is AFUE?

Customer meeting Rep

If you’re shopping for a new furnace, then you’ve probably seen the yellow energy guide stickers or have at least heard the term AFUE get thrown around. If you don’t know what that phrase means or know how it can practically apply to you, then it might make the process more confusing than it needs to be.

HVAC is full of lots of complicated terms. Even the name of our industry is an acronym. It doesn’t need to be confusing, though.

In this post, we’ll explain what AFUE stands for, how it’s calculated, and how you can think about it in a practical sense.

To start off, AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.

 

Why is AFUE Important?

It may seem like HVAC equipment has ratings just to have ratings, but they all actually mean something. The AFUE of a furnace is a way of calculating how much of the fuel it uses gets turned into heat for your home. If a furnace has a higher AFUE, then more of its fuel becomes heat that enters your home.

Keep in mind, AFUE just measures the efficiency of the heating unit itself. Heat can still escape through chimneys, unsealed or uninsulated ducts, or out open doors. This escaped heat will not factor into the AFUE rating.

 

How is AFUE Calculated?

Whether your furnace uses oil or gas, we can calculate the AFUE the same way.

(Amount of Heat Produced in BTUs/Amount of Fuel Used in BTUs) x 100

This results in a percentage of how much fuel gets turned into usable heat.

To visualize this, imagine you have a gallon of milk and an empty gallon container. We want to transfer the milk into the empty the container. If the process is 98% effective, then 98% of the milk makes into the other container while 2% spills out the side or leaks out.

The gallon of milk is your gas or oil supply, and the empty container is your home. When we pour the milk, that’s like your furnace turning gas into heat.

So, if a furnace is 98% effective, then 98% of the fuel it uses turns into heat which enters your home. 2% of the fuel gets turned into wasted or lost energy that either burns off early or leaks out before entering your home.

 

What is a Good AFUE?

A 97 efficiency AFUE sticker

The Department of Energy started creating standards for efficiency in 1975. The DOE set the current standard in 2015. Today, the minimum AFUE you will see on the market is 80%. Anything below that is low-efficiency and out of date.

Mid-Efficiency

Furnace’s with AFUE between 90% and 93% are in the mid-efficiency range. This is what you will find in most homes in America in 2022.

High-Efficiency

A high-efficiency furnace has an AFUE between 94% and 98.5%. 98.5% is the highest AFUE available in 2022. If you want to have the most energy efficient furnace possible, then this is the range you will want to shop in.

 

How Does AFUE Affect You?

A furnace’s AFUE isn’t just an arbitrary measurement. It can impact your life in several ways. These are:

  • Energy Cost
  • Furnace Lifetime
  • Environmental Impact

Fuel Cost

The most obvious way that a furnace’s AFUE can affect you is by how much you will spend on utilities to operate it. Whether oil or gas, you will need to pay for the fuel that furnace uses. If a furnace is more efficient, then it will use less fuel to generate the same amount of heat as a less efficient model. This means that you will spend less on gas or oil to operate a high-efficiency furnace.

Future Proofing Your Furnace

a furnace breaking down

Furnaces lose efficiency every year that they operate. This is just part of the natural process of wear and tear. A furnace has a lot of moving parts, and it creates heat through combustion so there will also be some amount of wearing down.

A furnace that was 80% efficient ten years ago cannot offer the same level of efficiency today.

If you invest in a high-efficiency furnace, then it will be more efficient for longer as it is starting from a higher rating. While you cannot stop the natural breakdown of parts, you can save yourself from your HVAC system dipping into the low-efficiency range as it ages.

Reducing Environmental Impact

Naturally, a furnace that is more efficient is going to be better for the environment. It creates fewer emissions that can escape through the flue or exhaust by turning that fuel into heat. It also will need to draw less fuel or oil to generate heat, conserving natural resources.

If environmental impact is important to you, then the AFUE is an important statistic to be familiar with.

 

What Else to Look For When Furnace Shopping?

AFUE is not the only statistic that can affect a furnaces efficiency or performance. There are a few other factors that you should consider. These are:

  • Fuel Type
  • Variable Speed Furnace
  • Warranty

Fuel Type

If you are not using an all-electric furnace, your furnace will need a fuel source. This is natural gas or oil. Natural gas furnaces are more efficient than oil furnaces mostly and each gets supplied with fuel through different methods.

Variable Speed

Furnaces that have a variable speed run more efficiently than a standard furnace. A typical furnace has two settings: on or off. If a furnace has a variable speed setting, it can change the rate at which it blows heat on a sliding scale. It works like a dimmer switch for a light. If you only need a little heat, it only blows a reduced amount of heat.

Warranty and Protection

Having a strong warranty can impact the cost of owning your furnace over the long term. Furnaces can last up to 20 years, and you want a warranty that can keep your furnace running for its full lifetime. Regular maintenance can reduce the chance of equipment failure, but the chance of breakdown is never 0%. Having a warranty that can cover parts or labor for a long period can reduce or negate the cost of any future repairs.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to know about AFUE. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

What is Emergency Heat?

We love our heat pumps because they keep us warm in winter and cool in the summer. However, what happens when a heat pump can’t keep up or something breaks? Well, that’s where Emergency Heat comes in.

Emergency heat can mean one of a few things is happening, depending on how your HVAC system runs. This is a setting that you can turn on manually or that may come on automatically based on the circumstances outside.

Simply, it’s a mode of heating your home to get you through an emergency.

It is a vital setting that helps to keep your home safe and comfortable during harsh winters. Unfortunately, it also means that you can expect to pay more on that month’s energy bill.

In this post, we’ll explain what exactly emergency heat means and what is happening when you turn it on or see that light. We’ll go over the reasons it might turn on by itself and how you can make it through your heating emergency.

 

What Does Emergency Heat Mean?

Diagram showing how a heat pump works

There are two units that make up your heat pump system. The outdoor unit or compressor, and an indoor unit or air handler. Normally, the compressor pulls heat from the outside and transfers that to the air handler to warm up your home’s interior. If the compressor cannot work for any reason, then your HVAC system will switch to Emergency Heat.

What that means is that the heat pump cannot work like normal. The outdoor unit has shut completely off, and the indoor unit is now generating heat for your home.

If you have a secondary heat source for your HVAC system, then that secondary source is now doing all the heating for your home.

Secondary Heat Sources

Usually, one of these systems will be what takes over for heating your home:

  • Electric Heat Strips
  • Electric Resistance
  • Gas Furnace
  • Oil Furnace

 

What’s the Difference Between Emergency and Auxiliary Heat?

If you live in a colder climate, where you can expect winters to drop below 35 degrees Fahrenheit, your heat pump is required to have one of those secondary systems. You’ve probably seen the Aux Heat light. That just means that the secondary heat source is working alongside the heat pump to keep up with the cold weather. This is normal for wintry days.

Emergency heat is for emergencies. That means that your heat pump is not working at all. Sometimes it flips on automatically. If you notice your home is getting drastically colder and your heat pump is not providing any heat, then you will need to turn it on yourself.

That being said, there are some models of thermostat that say they are running in Emergency Heat when they really are running in Auxiliary Heat. To know what your model of thermostat will say, check the user manual.

 

How to Turn Emergency Heat On and Off?

A graphic showing the emergency heat button on a thermostat

As we stated earlier, your thermostat can automatically switch to emergency if it detects something is wrong. However, that is not always the case, and you will need to turn it on yourself. This is a straightforward process.

There should be an Emergency Heat switch or setting on your thermostat. All you need to do is:

  1. Flip that switch to on, or tap the button to activate it
  2. Call your HVAC company to let them know your heat pump is not working
  3. Switch your emergency heat off when your emergency is over

Reasons to Turn On Emergency Heat

You should only use emergency heat for emergencies. If your thermostat has not automatically switched to emergency heat, there are some causes in which case you should switch to emergency heat. Keep in mind, emergency heat is less efficient than the heat pump’s normal heating system, so you should not turn it on just because it is cold out.

Here are some reasons you should turn on emergency heat:

  • Your heat pump has iced over
  • A tree limb or windblown debris has damaged your heat pump
  • A cold snap has pushed the temperature too low for your heat pump to keep up or has damaged your heat pump

 

Cost of Running Emergency Heat

An assortment of 1 dollar bills

Running emergency heat is less efficient and more costly than how a heat pump system normally runs. This setting puts all the burden of heating your home on your secondary heat system, which is normally not as efficient as your heat pump.

If you have an all-electric heat pump system, then you do not have a furnace as a secondary heat source. Instead, the air handler will use electric resistance or heat strips to become an electric furnace. This method of heating is very inefficient and will increase your energy cost by a substantial amount.

If you have a gas or oil furnace as a backup heat source, then your cost for fuel and energy will increase, but not as much as an all-electric system.

The amount your cost goes up depends on your normal energy usage and how cold the weather is. It is impossible to know for sure. You can use an online calculator to get a rough estimate. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure until you get your energy bill.

 

What to do When HVAC is Stuck in Emergency Heat?

If your thermostat detects that something has gone wrong, then it can switch your HVAC system over to emergency heat without you flipping the switch. It’s possible that your heat pump has just iced over and needs to defrost. It may be smart to have your heat pump inspected after it defrosts, just in case something damaged your equipment.

If it stays in emergency heat mode, or you notice that something else has gone wrong, then you will need to contact an HVAC professional for emergency repairs.

Being in this state means that the heat pump is not working at all, and that your air handler or back up furnace is doing all the work. They can do this for a short time, but you risk equipment failure if they run like this for a long time.

You need to contact your local HVAC professionals and let them know that your thermostat’s emergency heat light is on and that you suspect something broke.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need about what your thermostat’s emergency heat setting is. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!

halogen sign that says Best

10 Best Ways to Get an Energy Efficient HVAC System

Modern homes are all built to be as energy efficient as possible. This helps you save money on energy and reduce your carbon footprint. A well-designed home is also easier to keep a comfortable temperature. Your HVAC system shouldn't be any different. In this post, we’ll list the 10 best ways to get an energy efficient HVAC system.

These tips will include ways to optimize existing systems, what to look for when shopping for new systems, as well as best practices to get better performance out of your HVAC system while spending no money.

 

Why It's Important to Have an Energy Efficient HVAC System

a furnace with money coming out of it

There are three big reasons that you want to have an HVAC system that is as efficient as possible.

These reasons are:

  1. Save Money on Energy
  2. Longer Lifespan
  3. Better Home Comfort

Obviously, efficient HVAC equipment will use less energy. What isn’t as obvious is that efficient equipment may last longer and require fewer repairs. If your equipment is not optimized to heat or cool your home, it may struggle in other ways.

It may run for cycles that are too long or short. This will wear down the equipment and reduce its lifespan.

If your HVAC system is losing hot or cold air because of inefficiency, then that air is not getting into your home. This can leave your home uncomfortable. It’s also possible that your equipment is too big for your home and might send too much airflow into your home. That makes the temperature throughout your home uneven.

 

1. Get Familiar with Energy Ratings

Whether you are working with existing equipment or looking to purchase new equipment, the first thing that you will need to do is get familiar with energy ratings.

There are three primary methods of rating a piece of HVAC equipment:

  • AFUE - Furnace Heating
  • SEER - AC and Heat Pump Cooling
  • HSPF - Heat Pump Cooling

We have articles that go into more depth with each metric.

Each one of these stats rates a specific piece of HVAC equipment at how efficient it is for heating or cooling. In all cases, the higher the number, the more efficient the piece of equipment is.

 

2. Get an Energy Audit

This is something you can do to optimize the energy usage of your entire home. Contact your local electric company and ask if this is a service they can perform. They will look at how your home is built, what appliances and equipment you own, and how you use electricity.

At the end of the audit, the auditor will provide an exact picture of how much energy your use versus what you should need to use under optimal conditions. They should also provide you with notes on what you can do to improve your energy usage.

Manual J or Block Load

One calculation that gets performed during an energy audit is a Manual J or Block Load calculation. This is a method of calculating the size of HVAC equipment that you need. Having equipment that has the right output is vital for achieving energy efficiency.

There are also ways you can test this for yourself. If you think your HVAC equipment is too big or too small, contact your local HVAC professionals and ask about getting the right size.

 

3. Make Sure Your Equipment is the Right Size

Like we just said, having the right size of equipment is a crucial part of your HVAC system’s energy efficiency.

Having HVAC equipment that is too large is going to draw an unnecessary amount of energy to turn on. It will then make the temperature in your home uneven by blasting a ton of air through your ducts. This will also damage the equipment because it will short cycle.

Conversely, equipment that is too small will draw energy over a long amount of time. It won’t be able to change the temperature in your home sufficiently. This will also damage the equipment because it will stay running.

 

4. Be Thoughtful with Your Home’s Features

Something that few people think about is that you can impact your HVAC system’s performance based on how you use appliances and features around your home.

Stove

a wood furnace burning a flame

Using your stove creates a substantial amount of heat in your kitchen. If you use your stove on a hot day in the middle of the day, it can make the job hard for your AC. However, using your stove on a chilly day can lessen the burden on your furnace.

Dryer

Your clothes dryer will pull a lot of warm air into your home when it runs. Like your stove, it can alter the temperature inside your home. This can affect the workload of your HVAC equipment based on when you choose to run your dryer.

Blinds and Curtains

Natural sunlight is an important tool for heating homes. Keeping your blinds and curtains open during the day in the winter allows the ambient sunlight to heat the air in your home. This can make it easier for your furnace. However, if you close your curtains in the summer, then you’ll keep that sunlight and heat outside. This will give your AC an easier job.

 

5. Use Fans

Fans are a great asset to use around your home. They disperse the air that comes from your vents to make the temperature in your home even. A well-placed fan can break up a heat pocket that is trapped in a corner or help airflow along a hallway or stairwell.

 

6. Keep Your Ducts Insulated and Sealed

If your ducts are not insulated or sealed, then they could leak heat. Not only does this mean that your HVAC system is losing efficiency, but it also means that it cannot get airflow into your home. This can cause you wasting money on energy bills while your HVAC system sends airflow outside your home.

We have an article on how to go about insulating your duct work. If you suspect your duct work has a leak, has come unsealed, or has collapsed, then contact your local HVAC professionals and have them look at it.

 

7. Smart Use of Your Thermostat

ecobee thermostat set to 69 degrees

The way you use your thermostat can also impact the efficiency of your HVAC system.

Rule of 20

In our market of Oregon and in similarly temperate climates, the common guidance is to keep your thermostat set within a 20-degree difference of the outside temperature. This is not true for all systems in all climates, so check with your local HVAC company for specific advice.

In our market, HVAC systems can achieve up to 20 degrees of cooling or heating without straining too hard. If you push your system beyond that, then you may notice that your HVAC equipment struggles to keep up. This means that it will run for long cycles. Your furnace may overheat, or your AC may ice over.

Set your thermostat within the 20-degree window to get optimal performance.

Programming

The settings of your thermostats program can also impact the efficiency of your HVAC system. If you do not yet have a programmable thermostat, then it may be worthwhile to upgrade to one that is compatible with your system.

Having a thermostat programmed to run close to the outside temperature can cause increased efficiency. If your thermostat is programmed to a warmer temperature at midday and a cooler temperature in the morning and evening, then your HVAC system will encounter less resistance. Keeping your goal temperature close to the ambient temperature can decrease the amount of energy your HVAC system needs to use.

There are, of course, exceptions to this. In heat waves, it’s better to set your thermostat to one temperature early and not let your home warm up during the day. Similarly with cold shocks, it’s best to not let your home cool during the night. When the outside weather is extreme, then pumping air into your home early and constantly will give your HVAC system less work to do. It’s easier to maintain a temperature than it is to change it.

 

8. Keep Your Equipment Clean

Your HVAC system has a ton of moving parts that all require airflow. Therefore, it’s important to keep all of those parts clean so that your equipment can get airflow.

Air Filter

Most obviously is changing your air filter. Change your air filter regularly at the recommended intervals and check it for dirt build up often.

Outside Equipment

Your HVAC system will have outdoor units if you have a heat pump or an AC unit. Make sure that leaves and debris do not fall into these systems as that can damage them. Clean out your gutters and cut back any trees that might pose a risk to your equipment.

 

9. Upgrade Existing Equipment

a furnace upgrading

This is where we get into the options that cost money. It’s possible to have your local HVAC professionals retrofit some of your existing equipment. There are certain modifications they can make to improve its performance.

However, if you notice that some of your equipment is very out of date and inefficient, then you may just look to upgrade it piece-by-piece. It’s possible that you moved into a new home with a great furnace but an out of date and inefficient AC unit. That’s not unheard of in Oregon.

You may just need to talk with an HVAC sales professional to find a piece of equipment that is efficient and compatible with your existing system.

Energy Star Rated Equipment

A good place to start a discussion with your sales professional is Energy Star rated equipment. Many manufacturers produce high-quality equipment, and the Energy Star guide lets you know what their most energy efficient offerings are.

 

10. Invest in a New System

If you moved into a new home and the entire HVAC system is out of date, or if you just want to future-proof your permanent home, then it could be beneficial to invest in a new energy-efficient HVAC system.

Contact your local HVAC sales professional and ask them for a whole new energy-efficient HVAC system and design.

Heat Pumps

Depending on where you live, they might offer you a heat pump to fit all your needs. On average, a heat pump is more efficient that a furnace or AC unit and it can both heat and cool. Even when paired with a secondary unit for really hot or cold days, a heat pump system will use less energy over the course of a year.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

The most energy efficient option would be a geothermal heat pump. This kind of heat generates its own sustainable power. They can be a hefty investment, but there are few systems that are as energy efficient as a geothermal heat pump.

Solar Power

Another contender for the most energy efficient HVAC system is a solar powered heat pump.

Alternatively, if your home is set up to run entirely on solar power, an electric furnace and AC are also an option.

Both options require an investment in solar panel installation. If you have already installed solar panels on your property, then these options may be a good fit for you.

 

Who Are Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning?

We are your local HVAC Experts out of Salem, Oregon. We hope that this post gave you the information you need to know to figure out how to get the most efficiency out of your HVAC system. If you have other questions about HVAC systems, check out our other blogs. To learn more about who we are and how we can help you, visit our website and follow us on social media - we’re here when you need us!