Ben from Standard Heating & Air Conditioning was recently invited to talk on the Centsible Media Energy Hour, a show that focuses on energy savings that make economic ‘cents’ for any homeowner. Ben started with us in 1998 as a Sales Representative, and has these tips for you:
When should I be thinking about replacing my furnace?
If your furnace is over 12 years old, it might be prone to having some issues sometime in the near future. It could be during stressful conditions like we just had the last 15 days, at the end of the heating season, or during the beginning of the air conditioning season.
Why the new heating and cooling technology may be better.
There are always good points about technology. The main one is efficiency: both gas efficiency and electric efficiency. If you decide to replace your furnace, you will see lower consumption of gas usage and lower consumption of electrical usage.
A lot of furnaces are running at 65% efficiency; others might be working close to their peak performance (70-80%), depending on how much maintenance and cleaning has been done to the furnace. To learn more about AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), click here.
What’s the highest efficiency you can get?
Today you can get between 97-98% gas efficiency on furnaces. Those numbers are typically reserved for our models that have features on them such as two-stage or modulating gas valves and ECM blower motors.
How do I go about learning more about my furnace if I’m unsure of it?
First, have one of our technicians come out and do a full tune-up and cleaning on the furnace. At that time, they will evaluate at that point the heat transfer capability at the furnace. Check out our Service Team page to find out more about the experts at Standard.
How do I go about replacing the furnace?
Call or contact Standard Heating. We will do a full comfort survey of the home, evaluate the ductwork system, and do a load calculation to precisely size the furnace for your home. We will also look at the nuances of the house, such as rooms that are colder than others, and make recommendations.
How does a variable speed furnace make your home more comfortable?
For example, at stage one, a two-stage gas model may work at 60% of its BTU capability; at stage two, the furnace would work at 100% of its BTU capability. If the transfer is running at a lower level of BTU transfer, it’s going to run longer. By running longer, more heat is going to run through the ductwork. By default, you will get more heating coming through to the rooms.
After the heating cycle ends, you can switch your thermostat from ‘auto’ to ‘on’ to run the fan constantly. If you do that, you will get recirculation of that heat plus any solar infiltration. To learn more, click on our blog post on single vs. variable speed.
Do you recommend running the furnace fan all the time?
During extremely cold weather like what we have experienced over the last 15 days, absolutely! Cold basements were extremely cold. Having recirculating heat into the basements was a good thing; it kept other areas more comfortable. The rooms that did not have the best windows/insulation and attended to be extremely cold during the spell. When the furnace fan runs continually, those rooms warm up quite quickly.
What’s the best kind of filter for my furnace?
The best kind of furnace filter you can get depends on your needs and the system you have in the house. If you are not in the house very often and you keep the temperature fairly low (maybe 65 F), you can probably get by with the one-inch filter or the one that has a cardboard frame. Those kinds of filters should be thrown out when they are dirty, usually within 30 days. On the other hand, if you have health issues or serious allergies, you can run the fan 24/7 and use a 5-inch media filter that has high ratings. You can also add an ultraviolet bulb that neutralizes minute particles. For convenience, buy your furnace filters online, and get them delivered to your door.
What about DC motors? And noise levels?
If you are looking at the high efficiency (95-98% AFUE) models, most of the furnaces will have an ECM or Electronically Commutated Motor-(read more about ECM motors here) that runs on DC current. Those will use about 50-80% less electricity than any standard blower motor from a furnace that was put in 1999 or earlier.
The variable-speed ECM blower motors are the quietest ones I’ve seen in the market. You can’t even hear them unless you are standing in the furnace room.
Does it make sense to replace both A/C and Furnace at the same time?
Depending on the installation requirements, it could make sense since electric utility rates have been going up way faster than natural gas. If you have an air conditioner that’s over ten or twelve years old that’s running at 10 SEER and you’ve seen your electric bill go up every year; then, it’s probably a good idea to replace both furnace and air conditioner at the same time. The minimum SEER rating available today is 13, which would be the equivalent of using 15 to 20% less electricity to run your air conditioner.