How Upgrading You’re HVAC System Can Help You Save Money

Is your current heating, ventilation and cooling system saving you the money it could be? If your system is more than ten years old, consider replacing it with a more energy efficient model. Greater efficiency equals greater savings. Your HVAC system’s components should have the highest possible energy efficiency ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the product and lower your energy usage can be. Make sure your components meet the following requirements:

Furnaces: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of 80 or higher. AFUE is a rating that reflects how efficient a gas furnace converts fuel to energy. An AFUE of 90 means that approximately 90% of the fuel is utilized to provide warmth to your home, while the remaining 10% escapes as exhaust.

Heat Pumps: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) ratings of 7 or higher. HSPF refers to the efficiency of the heating mode of heat pumps over the entire heating season. The higher the number, the more efficient the system.

Air Conditioners: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings of 13 or higher. SEER is a rating that measures the cooling efficiency of a heat pump or air conditioner. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the system.
In January 2006, the EPA mandated an increase of the minimum SEER rating to 13. Today, systems range from 13 SEER to 20 SEER. The EPA also developed the Energy Star® program to reduce the nation’s energy consumption.

Another thing to consider when purchasing a system is whether or not it has a variable speed blower motor in either a split or package system. This means that the fan motor inside the higher efficiency systems is designed to change its speed based on your homes heating and air conditioning requirements. Working in conjunction with your thermostat, it keeps the appropriate-temperature air circulating throughout your home, reducing temperature variances. The variable speed motor also increases dehumidification and is quiet because it runs at a lower speed most of the time. Plus, the consistent air circulation eliminates noisy startups and shutdowns.

A properly sized system is also important because homes that are heated or cooled by a system that is too big, too small or mismatched miss out on quality and efficiency. Your dealer should perform a load calculation on your home to determine the correct sized system to meet your comfort needs. It all starts with a matched system, which refers to components that are designed to provide greater efficiency, reliability and comfort. Matched systems can be “split” (separate units placed inside and outside the home) or “packaged” (one single unit placed outside the home which houses all the components). A hybrid system brings together two different fuel sources, such as a gas or oil furnace with an electric heat pump. A hybrid system is calibrated to automatically switch between the furnace and heat pump depending on which offers the most economical power for your heating needs at any given time.

But you don’t have to start over with your home’s HVAC system to consume less energy and enjoy a more comfortable home. The quickest and easiest fix is a digital programmable thermostat. With a programmable thermostat you can save costs by adjusting the heating and cooling settings for times when you are waking up, leaving for work, sleeping, or going on vacation. It automatically adjusts temperatures throughout the day, ensuring greater energy efficiency and enhanced comfort. During winter months, you could save up to 3% of heating cost for each degree you lower the thermostat and during the summer months you could save up to 6% per each degree you raise the thermostat.

The other way to decrease your energy cost is a maintenance plan to service your system once or twice a year. A maintenance plan will generally cost less than $250.00 per year all across the country and is a wise decision. It could mean the difference between your unit lasting only eight years or lasting twenty years. It is like changing the oil in your car. I trust you do change the oil in your car?