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Will You Be Wasting A Lot Money On Your Heating Bill This Winter?

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Oct, 28, 2014 @ 13:10 PM

If you went to the gas pump and you paid for 10 gallons - you pumped 6 in your tank and the other 4 leaked out of your gas tank before you could use it would that tick you off a bit? What would you do about it? Unfortunately most homeowners have no idea it is even happening with their gas furnace. There are 2 ways this can occur. 

This topic is Reason #4, of our Top 10 Reasons For A Furnace Tune Up; which is make sure it's performing efficiently and keep money from going up the chimney. You see, there’s a GOOD chance your current heating system is underperforming --- robbing you blind!! The majority of HVAC Systems in the US are wasting 40% or more in energy costs! That's why we use the illustration of pulling up to a gas pump and paying for 10 gallons but dumping 4 gallons on the ground. Everyone get's that!

The other factor is having a low efficiency furnace. The efficiency of a furnace is measured in a rating known as AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). A lot like your car’s miles per gallon rating, AFUE tells you how efficiently the furnace converts fuel (gas or oil) into heat.

An AFUE of 80% means that 80% of the fuel is used to heat your building, while the other 20% basically goes up the chimney. The government mandated a minimum AFUE rating for furnaces installed in new buildings is 78%. (In contrast, many furnaces manufactured before 1992 had AFUE ratings as low as 60% — so nearly half the fuel was being wasted.) Furnaces with AFUE ratings of 78% to 80% are considered "mid-efficiency"; those with ratings of 90% or higher are known as "high efficiency." The maximum furnace efficiency available is around 96.6%.

The SOLUTIONS:

First, determine the efficiency rating of your existing furnace

If you have an older furnace (with an AFUE of about 60%), you could save up to 60% on your heating bills by replacing it with a new high-efficiency furnace. So the cost to replace your old, inefficient furnace is paid back through lower utility bills.

The Payback: If you live in a cold climate like here in Battle Creek, you could see a payback in a few short years.

We'd be happy to discuss this using heating data from our area to help you determine about how long it would take you to recover the additional cost of a high-efficiency model in energy savings. (Of course, after the payback, you continue to save on your energy bills for the life of the system.)

Second, schedule a furnace tune up or what some people call a cleaning. the Environmental Protection Agency's EnergyStar program says that a heating and air conditioning maintenance plan can pay for itself in energy savings alone.

Imagine if you had a low efficiency furnace that was underperforming. Yikes!

Topics: Furnace Tune Ups, Energy Efficient Solutions, Furnace Replacement, AFUE

What Is The Most Energy Efficient Gas Furnace?

Posted by John Sims on Fri, Oct, 24, 2014 @ 16:10 PM

Since living in the modern age, there have been many different appliances used to heat a house, including boilers, water heaters, heat pumps, and wood stoves. However, most homes in the U.S. are heated by a forced-air furnace.

GasFurnaceEfficiency

The typical furnace installed here in the Battle Creek area is connected to ducts that deliver heated air to registers throughout the house. Different types of furnaces are manufactured to burn a variety of fuels, including natural gas, propane, oil, and firewood. The most common furnace fuel in the U.S. is natural gas; and frankly, it's been one of the cheapest sources to use.

If you've ever lived in a home that uses a boiler and hot water to radiate heat in the home, adding air conditioning was a problem because there wasn't a duct system to circulate 'chilled air'.

As air conditioning became a standard in homes, you had to have a duct system for distributing the "cooled" air. Once that was in place it’s cheaper to install a furnace for winter heating than to install a boiler with a separate distribution system for the hot water. The blower in the furnace serves as the air handler for the A/C system. A gas furnace is readily available, and easily serviced.

Here's the breakdown of forced air furnaces:

Let's begin by defining AFUE

When it comes to fuel efficiency, residential furnaces in the U.S. are divided into two main categories: so-called “medium-efficiency” furnaces and “high-efficiency” furnaces.

Furnace efficiency is usually calculated using a laboratory procedure that measures an appliance’s “annual fuel utilization efficiency,” or AFUE. This calculation accounts for heat losses up the chimney, heat losses through the furnace housing, and heat losses due to on-and-off cycling, but it doesn’t account for electricity use (fan energy use) or heat lost through the distribution system (ductwork). Think mpg, miles-per-gallon

How Can I Tell How Efficient My Current Furnace Is?

Here's a rule of thumb if you decide to take a look yourself. If you see a metal pipe that is connected to your chimney and it is bigger than 4", it's probably a low efficiency unit. If the pipe is 3-4" it's probably in the medium category; and if it uses plastic(pvc) pipe to the outside, it's a high efficiency furnace.

Low-efficiency and medium-efficiency furnaces

The usual definition of a “low-efficiency” furnace is one that is less than 75% efficient. Could be as low as 60%. The reason that you can no longer buy a low-efficiency furnace is that the federal government now requires residential gas-fired furnaces to have a minimum efficiency of 80%.

Medium-efficiency furnaces have efficiencies in the range of 80% to 82%. The line between mid-efficiency and high-efficiency furnaces is not arbitrary, but marks the division between appliances with distinct operating characteristics. Mid-efficiency furnaces are designed to keep flue gases hot enough to avoid any condensation of flue-gas moisture, while high-efficiency furnaces deliberately encourage the condensation of flue-gas moisture.

It is technically difficult to manufacture a furnace with an efficiency between 83% and 89%, so none are available in that range. Furnaces with "in-between" efficiency have sporadic condensation of flue gases, and this condensation causes corrosion problems. Furnaces with an efficiency of 90% or more wring so much heat out of the flue gases that the furnace exhaust can be vented through PVC pipe, a material which is more resistant to corrosive condensate than the stainless-steel vent pipe that would have to be used for the hotter flue gases that would occur in a furnace with an efficiency in the tricky 83% to 89% range.

High-efficiency furnaces

High-efficiency furnaces (also called condensing furnaces) have AFUE ratings that range from 90% to about 97%. 

These furnaces have a secondary heat exchanger where the moisture in the escaping flue gases is condensed. This phase change from water vapor to liquid water releases heat, improving the unit’s efficiency. Condensing furnaces must be hooked up to a drain that can dispose of the liquid condensate.

A high-efficiency furnace costs more than a mid-efficiency furnace. However, the venting system for a high-efficiency furnace may cost less than the chimney required for a mid-efficiency furnace. Most condensing furnaces burn either natural gas or propane.

If you are thinking about upgrading to a more energy efficient unit, there's a lot more than just buying a furnace based on the AFUE. That's why we put together our "6 SUREFIRE Steps To Buying A New Furnace". It's a must read before buying one!

At Sims Heating and Cooling, we offer various models of furnaces to meet the needs of each and every homeowner.

sources: Energyvanguard

Topics: Energy Efficiency Tips, Savings, Furnace Replacement, AFUE

Energy Efficiency Solutions For The Higher Heating Costs This Winter.

Posted by John Sims on Tue, Jan, 14, 2014 @ 14:01 PM

Energy Efficiency Solutions for the Forecast of Higher Heating Costs this Winter.

"Heating Costs Expected to Rise!" 

Fuel prices will be relatively stable, but customers will have to use more to keep warm15%EnergyIncrease than they did a year ago.

Americans will pay more to heat their homes this winter as they feel something they didn't feel much of last year: cold.

The Energy Department said that heating bills will rise 15 percent for natural gas customers and 19 percent for heating oil customers as temperatures come closer to normal. Last winter was the warmest on record.

Fuel prices will be relatively stable, but customers will have to use more to keep warm than they did a year ago.

Heating oil customers, though, are expected to pay the highest heating oil prices and the biggest overall heating bills ever, an average of $2,494. That's 20 percent more than last year.

Is it time for you to buy a new high-efficiency furnace? Energy bills are climbing and environmental concerns have brought a great deal of attention to the topic of home energy efficiency in recent years—especially when it comes to heating. Homeowners are struggling to spend less, use less, and pollute less without giving up the warmth and comfort they’ve come to cherish. If you intend to stay in your home for a few years, upgrading from an old, inefficient furnace to a new, high-efficiency model may save you money in the long run while improving your comfort.

Over 35 million homes in America are heated by natural gas–fired, forced-air heating systems. Unfortunately, many of these households have been sending 30% or more of their energy dollars up the furnace flue, and, in doing so, each has pumped up to 4 tons of carbon dioxide, the “greenhouse gas,” into the atmosphere every month. Old forced-air furnaces operate at very low efficiencies—some taking advantage of only half the fuel they burn. In an effort to curb this waste and pollution, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) instituted standards at the beginning of 1992 that required every new furnace to turn at least 78% of its fuel into heat. Manufacturers responded with models that meet and sometimes surpass this.

The reason we wanted to bring this to your attention is with the major portion of the heating season up ahead, this may be a good time to EVALUATE whether it makes sense for you to replace your inefficient furnace.

Most contractors would suggest that you should replace your system now. Before you do that, you should determine what the AFUE rating is for your current furnace. Is it below 80%? Keep in mind, furnaces manufactured in the United States are required to have at least an 80% AFUE.

The second is obviously how old it is. Most furnaces which have regular maintenance last between 15 and 20 years.

Once you've figured out those two items, you can begin to see if it makes sense. If you need help figuring this out, give us a call.

Our primary goal is to help homeowners make the best buying decision that fits their situation.

Topics: Furnace, Energy Efficiency Tips, energy efficiency, Heating Costs, AFUE

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