Whether purchasing a brand new home, or a home that is new to you, making sure you understand your HVAC system from the start will go a long way toward insuring your comfort and safety in your new place. For an older home purchase, getting an HVAC inspection and scheduling maintenance is especially important.
While checking out the bedrooms and the kitchen appliances, be sure to look at the HVAC equipment too. For starters, review the stat sheet on the house you are interested in for a list of the types of HVAC equipment, as well as the fuel used to power them. If that information is missing, be sure to ask.
Here are some tips for evaluating the HVAC equipment in a potential home.
1. Understand what your HVAC system includes.
In addition to the furnace, air conditioner and water heater, the HVAC system might include a programmable thermostat and indoor air quality accessories. Many HVAC systems also include ductwork.
2. Visually inspect the equipment.
Does the equipment appear to be in good condition? Does it make noises that are concerning? Make a note of anything that seems unusual and be sure to have your home inspector check it out. You can also hire an HVAC professional to do an inspection.
3. Ask about the system’s age.
HVAC equipment typically lasts 10 to 15 years. If the equipment is in that range, you may wish to ask for it to be replaced, even if it has been well-maintained. New equipment will have far greater energy efficiency and reliability, making it much more cost effective to operate. The Department of Energy estimates that a 12-year-old central air conditioner that is replaced with a new Energy Star model can reduce air conditioning energy costs by 30 percent.
4. Look for the energy label.
Even if the equipment is newer, look for the yellow energy label for the energy efficiency rating and the estimated operating costs compared to similar equipment. The Energy Star logo indicates greater efficiency than standard equipment. Check the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) for boilers and furnaces and the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating for air conditioners. When judging these ratings, keep in mind the overall maintenance the equipment has received.
5. Understand the warranty.
Ask about the warranty and any maintenance agreements. Find out if they transfer to the new owners.
6. Ask about past maintenance and repairs.
HVAC technicians sometimes leave behind a dated job ticket when they service an air conditioner, boiler, furnace or heat pump either attached to the unit or posted nearby. This type of information is a record of what has been done to the system. Check for frequent repairs, especially big-ticket items like blower motors or compressors. These could signal trouble that the equipment may need to be replaced soon.
7. Pay attention to the comfort levels in different rooms.
Cold, drafty spots or hot, stuffy spots could indicate a problem such as leaks or poor insulation.
8. Schedule a professional inspection and preventative maintenance.
Have the HVAC system inspected before you close on the house. At the very least, have a certified HVAC technician come out and do a thorough cleaning and maintenance before you move in.
A certified HVAC technician is an invaluable resource when you purchase a home. He or she will explain the system to you, provide recommendations for what you need to do to keep the system running as efficiently as possible, answer any additional questions you have and give you a good idea of how much life is left in the system. Keep in mind, an older system doesn’t necessarily need to be replaced. A well-maintained gas furnace or boiler can last between 15-20 years, while a heat pump or central air conditioner can last 10-15 years.
For your new home HVAC inspection, contact your Rheem Pro Partner in Colorado and Wyoming today!
Your air ducts are your home’s circulatory system. Each day your furnace or air conditioner is in operation, the air inside your home will be cycled through your ductwork again and again in a repeating loop.
Unfortunately, the air that passes through your ducts almost always carries pollutants. In most American homes indoor air pollution is a fact of life, and as a result air ducts become a sort of depository, collecting dust, dirt, debris, pet dander, chemical traces, mold spores and a host of other nasty contaminants. If nothing is done these contaminants will continue to accumulate, but that is a problem you can avoid by having your air ducts cleaned on a regular basis.
When carried out by qualified professionals, air duct cleaning is a highly efficient and effective practice that can deliver a range of benefits, including:
#1 Improved indoor air quality
The air in your home is filled with microscopic contaminants, which your HVAC filters are designed to capture as air circulates through your home’s air duct network. But when pollutants build up inside ducts, they get stirred up and re-circulated throughout the home whenever your HVAC system is switched on, and this is a problem air filters cannot solve since it occurs downriver from where they perform their work.
Consequently, your only defense against your ducts becoming a source of recirculated pollution is to have them cleaned before contaminant build-up runs out of control.
#2 Reduced concentrations of allergens and irritants
Improved indoor air quality is especially important for those who suffer from asthma or allergies that can be triggered by exposure to indoor irritants. In the sensitive and the vulnerable, the dust, dander, pollen, mold spores and bacteria that accumulate inside unsanitary air ducts can easily provoke an allergic attack, possibly severe enough to require medical attention.
When allergens become recurrent a problem in the home, and a proactive approach to air duct cleaning should be considered mandatory.
#3 Increased indoor comfort
Ducts and registers clogged with dirt and debris inhibit air flow, forcing HVAC systems to work harder to meet their designated temperature targets. Because keeping up can be difficult, especially during more extreme weather conditions, homes that have unclean duct systems frequently feel too hot in summer and too cold in winter, all because the restrictions on air flow prevent them from working at peak efficiency.
By enhancing the free and easy flow of air, duct cleaning helps ensure smooth, consistent and efficient operation of furnaces and air conditioners all year round.
#4 Removal of unpleasant odors
The chemical compounds responsible for odor can collect over time in duct systems, just like other home contaminants. Pets, chemicals used in cleaning, paint fumes, smoke, food smells and bathroom odors may all be recycled through dirty ductwork, producing a pervasive stale or musty smell that will hit you in the face every time you enter your home. And if your ducts collect moisture over time, mold, mildew and bacteria may spread inside them, making those odors even more odious—and of course the more often you use your furnace or air conditioner, the more frequently these odors will circulate throughout your home.
Naturally, regular air duct cleaning is the best way to avoid this contingency.
#5 Energy savings (from lower heating and air conditioning costs)
Studies show that 25-40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted, and dirty air ducts are a frequent contributor to this equation. Clogged ducts and registers are costly because they force furnaces and air conditioners to work harder and longer to keep up, leading to excess energy consumption and higher utility bills.
In contrast, clean air ducts do nothing to inhibit the strong and smooth flow of heated or cooled air, which reduces the amount of time a furnace or air conditioner must be kept running.
#6 Extended lifespan for your HVAC system
There are two ways that dirty ductwork can affect the longevity of your HVAC equipment. First, it can increase wear and tear on furnaces and air conditioners, since they must work harder and run longer when air flow through ductwork is less than optimal. Second, dirty ducts can contribute to mechanical breakdowns in HVAC equipment by coating them in dust and grime and making it difficult for them to continue functioning. Moisture in dirty air ducts is another problem, since exposure to moisture can cause metal machines to rust.
A well-maintained furnace or air conditioner can last for 20 years or longer, and air duct cleaning should be included in your HVAC maintenance menu.
Rheem Pro Partner Keeps it Clean
Rheem Pro Partner recommends regular duct cleaning for the health of your HVAC equipment, and for the health of your family. In fact many Rheem Pro Partners now offer duct cleaning and sealing services (the latter can prevent future contamination), and if you go with us for either you’ll have peace of mind knowing the job has been performed impeccably. If your air ducts haven’t been cleaned within the past two years, please contact us right away to make an appointment for a complete inspection of your entire HVAC system. If our technician confirms your ducts are contaminated, we can offer you the most comprehensive and affordable duct cleaning services available anywhere in Colorado and Wyoming and all points beyond.
Your home heating and cooling system is important for your comfort and your health. When you purchase new HVAC equipment and need it professionally installed or require repairs or maintenance for your existing HVAC system, you can’t afford to get mixed up with a substandard contractor.
Fortunately, this is a possibility you can avoid if you take a careful approach to the selection process. Once you know what to look for, your chances of picking an honest, reliable and highly-qualified contractor to handle your HVAC-related needs will be greatly enhanced.
What Does an HVAC Contractor Do?
HVAC contractors are installation, service, repair and preventive maintenance specialists. Some HVAC contractors act as independent operators, or as active providers of the services their company offers. They are prepared to handle a range of duties related to HVAC systems, including installations, repair work and maintenance services, and they can make informed recommendations to clients who are in the market for new heating, cooling, ventilation or indoor air quality equipment.
Other HVAC contractors employ a team of technicians who are trained to perform a number of tasks related to indoor climate control. When you need service, these contractors will dispatch someone who has the expertise to manage the assignment, based on their skills and past experience.
How to Identify a Reliable HVAC Contractor
Unfortunately, the HVAC industry has more than its fair share of shady operators, fly-by-night companies and individuals who are looking for a fast buck and aren’t afraid to cut corners to get it. But if you know how to spot them, you’ll stay well ahead of the game.
Here are 10 qualities that separate the hucksters from the true professionals in the HVAC industry …
#1 A good reputation
Any HVAC contractor worth their salt will be more than happy to supply you with references, and of course if you have friends, family members or neighbors who’ve used a particular contractor, that can be an excellent source of information as well. Online reviews are not hard to find (Google can lead you to them) and you can check with the Better Business Bureau website to see if any complaints have been filed against your prospective HVAC contractor.
#2 Experience and knowledge
Before hiring them, you should find out how long an HVAC contractor has been in business and how many years of experience their technicians have. Also, if you ask them questions about the services they offer and about HVAC systems they should be able to answer immediately, providing information you can verify as accurate.
#3 Offers in-home evaluations
A contractor or technician must inspect your home in person before they can make an accurate evaluation of your needs. Heating and cooling systems must be properly sized if they are to perform efficiently and economically.
#4 Provides written, itemized estimates
One of the oldest tricks in the books among fraudsters is to be as vague and non-specific as possible in their promises and claims. That way, they can keep piling on the expenses once the project actually begins. Reputable contractors, on the other hand, are always willing to provide you with detailed estimates that cover everything they will use or do, or might have to do should complications arise.
#5 The HVAC contractor is licensed, insured and bonded
A reputable contractor should be able to show you paperwork proving they are licensed to do business in your state, and to carry out the duties your job demands. They should be able to show you proof of insurance and bonding as well.
#6 Technicians are NATE certified
The most qualified technicians usually carry North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification, along with local and state certifications that testify to their training and abilities. An increasing number of professionals in the field also have training and certification from the National Comfort Institute (NCI), which is a sure sign of professional expertise. If an HVAC contractor claims their technicians are certified but that the documentation has been mysteriously misplaced, run the other way and don’t look back.
#7 Fair pricing
Shifty contractors might give you estimates that are too high or too low, depending on the type of scams they like to pull. The only way you can tell for sure if pricing is fair is to get at least three or four estimates from different contractors, all as detailed and comprehensive as possible.
#8 Belongs to professional associations, such as the ACCA
ACCA stands for Air Conditioning Contractors of America, and most reputable HVAC contractors belong to the ACCA. They will likely belong to other professional associations as well, and if they aren’t it probably means they aren’t really very professional—or trustworthy.
#9 Sells quality brands and products
There are some iconic names in the HVAC industry, including Rheem, Lennox, Amana, Trane, and so on, and the best contractors generally represent at least one of these industry-leading companies. The top HVAC contractors also sell furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters, dehumidifiers and humidifiers that carry the Energy Star label, which certifies energy-efficiency and excellence in performance.
#10 Provides guarantees in writing
These guarantees are like legal contracts, and they give you the assurances you need to protect you against unauthorized work or charges. If a company refuses to give you written guarantees, that is the surest sign imaginable that they are not on the up-and-up.
Rheem Pro Partners is a Perfect 10
Our satisfied customers in Colorado and Wyoming can confirm that Rheem Pro Partner meets all 10 of these qualifications. In all our locations we back up our promises with real solutions implemented by real professionals, and if you need help with your existing HVAC system—or are in the market for a new one—we are your best bet for superior service and superior products. Please contact us today to discuss your needs and your options, and we can assure you it will be a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
People in the market for an HVAC system upgrade do have choices. For heating in winter, the most common choice is between gas furnaces and heat pumps. Both technologies have much to recommend them, so before the final selection is made there are multiple factors to consider.
What is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump extracts heat from the air outside and transfers it into a home or place of business, in a steady enough supply to raise indoor temperatures to a comfortable level. Even when temperatures approach freezing the outdoor air will still contain a fairly significant amount of heat, and by working continuously a heat pump can remove it in sufficient quantities to heat enclosed spaces.
Despite the name heat pumps can function as indoor heaters and as de facto air conditioners. To produce a cooling effect, it pumps heat out of the air inside and transfers it outdoors for release.
Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps
In comparison to gas furnaces, heat pumps have some advantages and disadvantages …
- Energy-efficiency. A heat pump uses electricity to facilitate the transfer of already-existing heat from one area to another, and it works very efficiently because it doesn’t have to generate any additional heat.
- Lower installation costs. Indoor furnaces are usually teamed with central air conditioning systems, each of which must be purchased and installed separately. But a heat pump only requires one installation.
- Nearly soundless operation. Heat pumps don’t create anywhere near as much noise as gas furnaces, which use forced-air technology to distribute heat throughout a home.
- Safety. While such occurrences are rare, and avoidable if proper maintenance procedures are followed, furnaces are capable of producing dangerous gas or carbon monoxide leaks if certain failures occur.
- Higher operating costs. Electricity is more expensive than natural gas, and the gap is usually large enough to cancel out the efficiency gains associated with heat pumps.
- Shorter lifespans. Overall, heat pump systems are more complex than furnaces and subject to wearing out more quickly, and this problem is exacerbated by the fact they run throughout the year instead of just during the winter.
- Poor efficiency in frigid conditions. While heat pumps can work in cold weather, their efficiency levels drop precipitously once temperatures sink below freezing. There simply isn’t enough heat in the air outside to sustain effective pumping action beyond a certain point, and once temperatures drop into the single digits or below zero it is impossible for a heat pump to keep a home comfortable.
What is a Gas Furnace?
A gas furnace relies on a steady feed of natural gas to fuel a continuous cycle of combustion whenever the furnace is switched on, creating intense heat that is highly effective at warming indoor spaces. This heat is distributed throughout a home through an extensive network of ducts and heat registers, and it can be kept running for as long as it takes for temperatures to rise to the desired level.
Pros and Cons of Gas Furnaces
The advantages and disadvantages of gas furnaces are well-known, since this technology has been in use for decades …
- Lower operating costs. While the price of natural gas is flexible, it is still a less expensive fuel to burn than coal, which is the fossil fuel used to generate most of the electricity we use (and which heat pumps rely on).
- Longer lifespan. While the typical heat pump may last up to 15 years, a 20-30-year lifespan is normal for a well-maintained high-efficiency gas furnace.
- Decreased costs of purchase and installation (in some cases). The cumulative cost of installing an air conditioner for summer and a heat pump for winter is more prohibitive than the installation costs for a heat pump alone. However, if your air conditioner is fine and you only need a new furnace, your installation and equipment costs will be lower than for a heat pump, by anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
- Lower maintenance and repair costs. The heating season in most regions of the United States lasts from 3-6 months, but heat pumps may be called on to heat or cool all year long. Consequently, they are more subject to mechanical breakdowns of various types.
- Greater dependability in all weather conditions. Once temperatures drop below freezing, gas furnaces will begin to outperform heat pumps, and by an ever-widening margin as the mercury begins to plunge. There simply is no way a person living in Montana, North Dakota, Colorado or Wyoming alone can get by with a heat pump—and nothing else—during the winter.
- The risk of gas or carbon monoxide leaks. This risk is mostly dependent on the homeowner. Annual inspections by trained HVAC professions can virtually eliminate the chances of this happening, and no one who owns a gas furnace should be lax about arranging such visits.
- A deleterious impact on indoor air quality. The products of gas combustion can be unhealthy to breathe and can create unpleasant odors, especially when furnaces are not working efficiently. To help prevent such problems, gas furnaces should be cleaned by an HVAC professional on a regular basis, and air filters should be changed whenever they become clogged and are constricting air flow.
Dual System Heating: The Best of Both Worlds?
In Colorado and Wyoming, a heat pump alone is not a practical solution in winter. But it is possible to install a dual heating system that uses a heat pump to fulfill some heating duties, with a gas furnace available as a backup when temperatures plunge to unpleasant depths. With a dual heating system, the heat pump can function as an air conditioner in the summer as well, giving the homeowner a versatile system that eliminates the need for one piece of expensive HVAC equipment.
While a heat pump is generally more expensive to operate than a furnace, even in relatively mild winter temperatures, the heat it produces usually has a higher moisture content than the dry heat produced by a furnace. People who experience itching or burning of the eyes, throat or skin when the air is excessively dry may prefer to use a heat pump in the spring or fall, or in winter when temperatures are relatively mild.
Rheem Pro Partner is Turning Up the Heat
If you are considering changes in your HVAC system, we can help you make the right choice for you and your family. Our product line features an expansive array of outstanding furnaces and heat pumps, and if you contact us today we can introduce you to an impressive variety of superior quality HVAC equipment. In Colorado and Wyoming Rheem Pro Partner is your best bet for great products and even better service, and that is why you should come to us to discuss your home heating and cooling options.
The Department of Energy estimates that water heating costs are responsible for about 18 percent of a household’s yearly energy consumption. Consequently, your determination to save money on energy costs should include strategies to reduce your hot water usage and water-related energy consumption.
If you implement the recommendations listed below, you’ll be rewarded with a lower utility bill each month—and possibly a dramatically lower utility bill, depending on how wasteful you’ve been up to now.
Without further ado, here are 13 ways you can save money on your water heating costs …
#1 Reduce your shower time
For every minute you spend in the shower, you’ll use about five gallons of water. If you cut your average shower time from 10 to five minutes each day, you could save 175 gallons of water and 35 minutes of energy or fuel consumption per week.
#2 Lower your water heater temperature to 120 degrees
A 10-degree Fahrenheit reduction in water heater temperature will cut that appliance’s power usage by 3-5 percent each time it is activated.
#3 Never let the water run unnecessarily
Letting the hot water run continuously when you’re washing hands, doing the dishes or shaving could add a few dollars to your energy costs each year. Since you probably do this without thinking, it should be an easy adjustment to make now that you’re aware of the problem.
#4 Use cold water to do your laundry
Cold water will do the job just as well as hot water in most instances. You should always make sure to use cold water during the rinse cycle, and over the course of a year this action alone could reduce your hot water usage by a couple of percentage points.
#5 Learn to use your dishwasher more efficiently
People tend to use their dishwashers too often or casually. To reduce unnecessary energy consumption, you should only wash dishes when the dishwasher is full. You should choose shorter cycles as well, which will be more than long enough to get your dishes clean if you rinse them thoroughly with cold water before putting them in the dishwasher.
#6 Fix leaky faucets
Did you know that a hot water faucet leaking at a rate of one drop per second could cost you an extra $1 in energy charges each month? Over the course of a single year that adds up to 3,153 gallons of wasted water, plus several hours of excess energy usage.
#7 Install low-flow fixtures
Water faucets and showerheads that are more than 25 years old are a great deal less efficient that current models. A good-quality low-flow showerhead can cut your rates of water usage in half, without impacting your comfort level.
#8 Ask a contractor to install heat traps on your water heater tank
The Department of Energy reports that heat traps on hot water outlet pipes and cold water inlet pipes can save you up to $30 per year on energy. Most modern water heaters already have these traps installed, so you likely won’t have to do this unless your heater has been in place for a decade or more.
#9 Insulate your water heater’s storage tank
To find out whether your storage tank needs more insulation, check its R-value (a measurement of insulating capacities) in your water heater owner’s manual. If its less than R-24 you should install in insulation blanket, being careful not to cover the thermostat on electric water heaters or the top, bottom, thermostat or burner compartment on gas water heaters. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, you can ask your water heating contractor to come and do it for you. As a physical test, you can put your hands on the outside of your water heater tank, and if it feels warm it needs more insulation.
#10 Insulate the first few feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater
What this does is raise the temperature of the water in the pipes, possibly by as much as 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit. This eases your water heater’s workload and gives you the option of lowering its temperature settings a bit below that 120-degree standard.
#11 Install a timer on your electric water heater
A timer will reduce energy consumption by shutting down the heating unit when you’re at work or sleeping and have no need for on-demand hot water. If you live in an area that charges higher electricity rates during certain hours, you can program the timer to shut the heater down during those times, too.
#12 Look for the Energy Star label
The Energy Star label on a dishwasher or washing machine guarantees energy-efficient performance, in comparison to appliances from 15-20 years ago that were tilted more toward the energy-hog side. Appliances that earn this designation will be accompanied by a yellow Energy Guide sticker, which reveals how many kilowatt-hours of energy that appliance will consume each year (based on typical levels of usage) and how much that energy will cost.
#13 Consider replacing your current water heater with a more efficient appliance
Energy-efficient water heaters are now standard, with Energy Star labels and yellow Energy Guide stickers attached to verify their excellence. While a good-quality tanked model could represent a drastic improvement over your old water heater, the best way to save money on water heating is to switch to a tankless water heater. These appliances deliver hot water strictly on demand, eliminating all excess heating costs associated with tank technology.
Rheem Pro Partner Knows Water Heaters
Want to reduce your water heating bills? Then you should contact us today, because Rheem Pro Partners offers a full-line of energy-efficient water heaters plus professional and affordable installation services. We have multiple tanked and tankless options to show you, all accompanied by warranties on tanks, parts and labor. These superbly-crafted and exquisitely-designed water heaters will reduce your energy bills from the day they’re first installed, proving once again that you can’t go wrong in Colorado and Wyoming when you come to Rheem Pro Partner for assistance.
Furnaces are calibrated to turn on and off based strictly on changes in indoor air temperature. But sometimes, furnaces will begin turning on and off too rapidly to be responding to temperature variations.
This is not normal behavior and the problem is unlikely to clear up on its own. This pattern of functioning is called short cycling, and it is a sign of trouble that you cannot afford to ignore.
Short Cycling Means Trouble
Furnaces normally shut on and off between three and eight times per hour, and in colder weather a quick pace in cycling should be expected. But when your furnace is short cycling it will switch on and off every two or three minutes, which indicates a malfunction or glitch somewhere in the system.
Three Common Causes of Short Cycling
Your furnace’s short cycling could be a sign of many things, including:
#1 Dirty air filter
When air filters aren’t changed regularly, they can become clogged and dirty. This leads to restricted air flow through the intake vents, which could cause the heat exchanger to shut down soon after the furnace is turnn’t cool properly and would be in danger of burning out if it kept running.
Experts estimate that up to 90 percent of short cycling is caused by a died on, since it worty air filter, which is a testament to how lax people are about changing their air filters on time.
#2 Thermostat problems
Reliable thermostat performance is required for a furnace to work properly. But if your thermostat isn’t working it can cause a range of system operating troubles, including short cycling.
#3 An incorrectly-sized furnace
If your furnace is too big for your home, it will tend to heat up the rooms in your house too quickly, possible leading to a pattern of short cycling. This may seem like a sign of superior efficiency, but a furnace that short cycles for this reason will wear out much more rapidly than it should.
What Can Be Done?
When your furnace is short cycling, you can do some troubleshooting on your own before you summon a professional. Here are the steps you can take that may solve the problem:
#1 Check your air filter
Air filters that have been in place for an extended period of time should be replaced, and a good rule of thumb is to get a new filter at the beginning of each heating and cooling season. If you’ve been using a cheap fiberglass model, try upgrading to a good-quality pleated filter with a MERV rating of 9-12.
Once the filter has been replaced, the chances are good the short cycling will stop. If it doesn’t, you can move on to the next possibility.
#2 Check the thermostat
A short cycling problem could indicate a failing thermostat battery, or that the thermostat was installed in direct sunlight or next to a heat register, where the temperature spikes can confuse it. You can try changing the battery on your own, although you’ll need to consult a technician if you need to move the thermostat to another location, or if your thermostat can’t be fixed and needs to be replaced. If you suspect the thermostat is faulty and might need replacing, you should ask your HVAC contractor to send someone to your home to exam it.
#3 Check the furnace’s blower
A burned-out blower could be the cause of the short cycling. The way to check for this is to hold your hand next to a heat register, and if air flow is super-low or nonexistent, it means the furnace is running but the blower is not.
A burned-out blower fan could be yet another indication (and an expensive one, at that) that your air filters are dirty and need more frequent changing.
Want a Foolproof Solution? Call Rheem Pro Partner
By following these tips, you should be able to solve your short cycling problem in most cases. But if you can’t, please don’t hesitate to contact Rheem Pro Partner right away. We’ll dispatch one of our top technicians to your home to inspect your HVAC system and diagnose the difficulty, and to make a recommendation on how to resolve the situation once and for all. In Colorado and Wyoming, when your HVAC equipment is malfunctioning you can always count on Rheem to help you out.
If your furnace was installed more than 10 years ago and does not carry the high-efficiency moniker, it might be time to consider an upgrade. While this might require a significant upfront investment, in the long-run that investment could pay off in a big way.
The good news is that efficiency in furnaces is now carefully measured, and that means you can figure out how much a new furnace might save you on energy bills before you decide which make and model to buy.
What is AFUE?
AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency. Expressed as a percentage, it measures the amount of fuel your furnace uses that is converted to heat.
High-efficiency furnaces have high AFUE percentages, signifying the low levels of gas they waste. Current government standards mandate AFUE ratings of 80 percent or higher, and any new furnace you purchase is likely to offer an AFUE rating of somewhere between 80 and 98 percent—meaning between 80 and 98 percent of the fuel you pay for will actually be used to heat your home.
To put these numbers in perspective, a furnace installed 30-40 years ago might have wasted as much as 30-40 percent of the fuel it burned, depending on how well maintained it was, while a furnace that meets the minimal standards today would only waste half that amount.
Cost Comparison: 80% AFUE vs. 96% AFUE Furnace
The cost of a new furnace will vary, based mainly on its AFUE rating. In general you should expect to pay between $1,500 and $4,000 for the furnace alone, not including installation, and a furnace with an AFUE rating of 96 percent will likely cost you 40-50 percent more than one with an AFUE rating of 80 percent.
That might sound like a significant mark-up, but it really isn’t when you factor in expected energy savings.
Savings Differential: 80% AFUE vs. 96% AFUE Furnace
With AFUE data available, calculating the savings offered by one furnace over another is a straightforward affair. You simply use the furnace with the lower rating as your baseline, the take the difference in percentages to compute your expected fuel savings. To put that more simply, a new furnace with an AFUE of 96 would produce heating bills 16 percent lower than a furnace with an AFUE of 80.
Of course, if you have an older furnace with uncertain performance, you can’t be sure how much savings a new 80 AFUE furnace would deliver. But if you estimate savings of 10-20 percent (which may be modest if your current furnace isn’t in great working order), and your current winter heating bills run about $100 a month, installing a furnace with an AFUE of 80 could cut your costs down to $80 a month.
Meanwhile, a 96 AFUE furnace could potentially reduce your bills to just $64 a month, and over time those kinds of savings could really add up.
Efficiency Improvements and Other Factors that Can Affect Savings
Needless to say, the size of your savings will depend on the length of the winter and on the hours you use your furnace each day. In Colorado and Wyoming winters are long and cold, which definitely magnifies the impact of a high-efficiency furnace of any AFUE rating in this part of the country.
In addition to installing a new high-efficiency furnace, there are other types of changes you could make that would have an impact as well. Upgrading your insulation, sealing air leaks, weatherstripping around doors and windows, and switching to double-glazed or high solar gain/low-e glass windows could boost your home’s energy-efficiency by a substantial amount, while remodeling or a sudden jump in the price of natural gas could push your heating bills upward.
But regardless of any other changes you make, getting a new furnace with a strong AFUE rating could still cut your winter heating bills by a consequential amount, and with an expected lifespan of 25 or more years (if you are diligent about maintenance), your new furnace should pay for itself in energy savings well before it needs replacement.
Another advantage of installing a new high-efficiency furnace is that it will increase your property values should you decide to sell your home within the next few years, and that alone could make it worth the investment.
Get High-Efficiency Service from Rheem Pro Partner
At Rheem Pro Partner we sell high-efficiency furnaces manufactured by Rheem, one of the most esteemed and respected names in the heating and cooling industry. We also employ highly-trained HVAC technicians who can handle any installation job regardless of the challenges involved. If you’re thinking about purchasing a new high-efficiency furnace, please contact us today for more information and to arrange a consultation. If you ultimately decide to do business with us, you’ll join a long list of satisfied customers in Colorado and Wyoming who’ve turned to us in their time of need.
New furnaces require a significant financial investment, and if you make the wrong choice the size of that investment may grow as you’re forced to pay for multiple repairs and upgrades.
If you’re in the market for a new furnace, here are eight factors to consider before you make your purchase …
- Fuel-use efficiency
Furnaces are evaluated based on their AFUE ratings. AFUE stands for ‘annual fuel utilization efficiency,’ and it refers to the percentage of the fuel your furnace consumes that is actually converted to usable heat.
In areas where winter temperatures routinely plunge below zero, you’ll want to purchase a furnace with an AFUE rating of 92 or better. A premium-quality furnace might carry a rating of 97-98 percent, and while such an appliance may seem costly it can deliver amazing levels of energy savings over the course of its lifespan.
- Furnace operating speed
Your choices are furnaces with single-speed blowers, which (as the name implies) run at the same speed all the time, or variable-speed furnaces, which adjust the intensity of their operation based on changes in the weather.
Variable-speed furnaces that adjust their pace of heat production up or down as outdoor temperatures rise and fall will consume less fuel and cost less to operate, while still keeping you warm and comfortable at all times. Variable-speed furnaces are more expensive, but because they are more efficient they may reduce your energy bills dramatically if you live in locations that experience frequent fluctuations in wintertime temperatures.
- Programmable thermostats
For maximum reductions in energy usage, you should support your new furnace by adding a programmable thermostat with WiFi capability as a companion piece.
Compared to traditional thermostats, programmable thermostats can cut your energy costs by 10-20 percent. The secret of their success is that they let you customize your HVAC system’s operation down to the minute, putting you in the driver’s seat as you look to reduce your utility costs to the lowest level possible.
- The quality of the warranty
Most high-efficiency modern furnaces come with a 10-year limited warranty on parts and a 20-year warranty on the heat exchanger, which is vital to the continued functioning of the furnace. You might be able to extend that warranty by 5-10 years for a price, if you want to give yourself additional peace of mind.
As you look at the warranty don’t forget to read the fine print, so you can avoid any nasty surprises down the road. Regular maintenance may be required to preserve warranty protections, but its in your best interest to schedule annual maintenance visits anyway.
- Zoning capacity
If you live in a large house, or one that just naturally has broad temperature differentials between rooms, you should consider installing a zoned heating system. Zoned installations feature multiple thermostats for separate rooms or sections of the house, and wireless or manual dampers on your registers will let you direct heated air to the parts of the home where it is needed the most.
Zoning might sound expensive, but keep in mind it still involves only one furnace, and it would allow you to shift the heat exclusively to the spaces you occupy, thereby saving you the trouble (and the expense) of heating sections of your home that are lightly-used.
- Indoor air quality
In combination with your new furnace, you might want to consider upgrading to superior-quality air filters. If you are unsure about which ones offer the best performance, you can ask the HVAC technicians installing your new furnace to check your old filters and make recommendations.
To bolster your indoor air quality even further, you may want to supplement your new furnace by adding an air cleaner or air purifier, which can be installed inside your ductwork. A whole-house humidifier is another great option for wintertime comfort, since heated air can be quite dry and can leave you feeling itchy and uncomfortable.
- The credentials of your HVAC contractor
Unfortunately, there are many fly-by-night operators in the heating and cooling business, and if you have the misfortune of employing one you’ll likely suffer significant financial losses because of that mistake.
A legitimate HVAC contractor will have an established presence in the community, documentation to prove they’ve been licensed, great reviews online, and a roster comprised entirely of highly-trained and fully-certified technicians with a wealth of experience. They may not give you the lowest bid on labor and installation costs, but they’ll save you a lot of headaches and heartaches in the long-run by doing the job right.
- Available rebates and incentives
When you purchase a new energy-efficient furnace with a high AFUE rating, you likely be eligible for a broad range of rebates, tax breaks and other financial incentives offered by state and local governments, the federal government, furnace manufacturers and retailers.
Energy-efficiency is all the rage these days, and you’d be amazed how many benefits are available to anyone who chooses to install energy-saving and environmentally-friendly technology. Financing options are usually available to help you handle the costs of a new furnace as well, and your HVAC contractor will work with you to keep your equipment and installation costs well within your budget.
Rheem Pro Partner Offers Unmatched Expertise in Furnace Sales and Installations
Are you ready to buy a new furnace, or at least ready to consider the idea? Before you take the plunge, please contact Rheem Pro Partner today to discuss your options, and to make an appointment for a full HVAC system inspection. As our satisfied customers in Colorado and Wyoming can attest, we offer top-quality heating and cooling products backed by superior installation services.
Smoothly operating furnaces and air conditioners are fairly quiet, and the noise they do emit is usually consistent and unobtrusive. Consequently, when you hear noises that are loud, grating or out of the ordinary, it could be a sign that something has gone wrong.
Here are six common sounds that could indicate trouble with your HVAC equipment …
- A squealing blower motor
A bad belt may be the culprit, and if it is that’s something you can replace yourself (and for a low cost). If fraying or stretching is evident replace the belt quickly, since it could break at any moment.
Another possible source of the noise could be a lack of lubricant, and your blower motor should have ports if you need to apply more oil. Make sure you purchase a motor oil that is appropriate for use with HVAC equipment, and if you aren’t sure what that might be ask your HVAC contractor for advice.
- Loud banging, thumping or rattling
These sounds may indicate that something is coming loose in the blower assembly or motor. If so this is not something you can fix yourself, and even if you spot the unattached component you should still have a technician come and take a look.
Sometimes, rattling sounds can come from loose fasteners or screws somewhere in your HVAC system. You can check for this by inspecting and testing everything, and if you find anything loose you can tighten or re-fasten it yourself.
- Clicking sounds from the compressor or control panel
If these sounds originate from the outdoor compressor or indoor control panel, it could mean a relay is shot, or that an electric control is malfunctioning and causing the relay to work improperly. Either way, an HVAC technician can provide definitive answers.
If the clicking is confined to the outdoor unit of an air conditioner, it could be that the capacitor is about to fail. This could ultimately lead to compressor breakdown, and you need to summon a trained technician to inspect your HVAC system if you have reason to believe this could be the problem.
- Humming noises from the outdoor unit
If an outdoor unit is emitting humming sounds, it means the capacitor has failed but the compressor is still trying to do its work. This will burn out the compressor in short order, and you must shut the unit down completely if a clicking sound has turned to humming.
Fortunately, the capacitor for the compressor is a relatively inexpensive part, and your HVAC contractor can send an expert out to perform the installation after selling you the new capacitor.
- High-pitched whistling sounds
Whistling or screaming sounds emerging from a condenser (the outdoor section of your air conditioner) could be a sign of impending doom. It could mean that refrigerant is leaking, or that some other mechanical failure is causing a hazardous buildup of pressure inside the unit.
Needless to say, if you hear such noises you should shut the air conditioner off immediately, and contact your HVAC contractor right away since this could be a dangerous situation.
- The screeching of metal against metal
Metal-on-metal screeching sounds could indicate a bent, broken, or obstructed fan blade, if the noise is coming from the outdoor half of the air conditioner. After you’ve shut the HVAC system off, check the fan to see if there are obstructions, such as a branch or stick or other wind-blown item that may have fallen in through the fan’s grill, and if you find anything remove it.
Should metal-on-metal sounds come from a furnace or the indoor half of the air conditioner, it could mean that something is loose or broken, in which case you’ll need to summon a trained technician to handle the inspection and repairs.
Troubleshooting is Fine, but Proceed with Caution
In general, troubleshooting is perfectly fine if the source of the trouble is visible, simple to repair, and doesn’t involve any type of electrical or gas work. If you have any doubts, though, or lack the confidence necessary for troubleshooting, don’t be afraid to call your HVAC contractor to ask for professional assistance.
It never hurts to check things first on your own, but once you identify the reason for the unwanted noise you must take action quickly, before your furnace or air conditioner suffers permanent and irreplaceable damage.
Whether your HVAC noise problems are large or small, or come from an obvious source or are completely mysterious, Rheem Pro Partner in Colorado and Wyoming can diagnose the problem and come up with a solution. Contact us today and tell us what you’re hearing, and if there’s anything you can do about it we’ll let you know—and if there isn’t, well be happy to handle it for you.
This is a fact of life you must face: your heating and air conditioning equipment will eventually wear out, no matter how diligent you are about maintenance and repairs.
But that can be a good thing, since HVAC technology is always improving in terms of durability and cost-efficiency. Consequently, if the time has come to upgrade your HVAC system, you should see that as an opportunity rather than a burden.
When you purchase and install a new, high-efficiency furnace, air conditioner and/or heat pump, here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy …
- Shrinking utility bill
Is your current HVAC equipment more than a decade old? If it is, get ready for some amazing news: a new ENERGY STAR-certified, high-efficiency furnace, air conditioner or heat pump could save you 20 percent or more on your monthly heating and air conditioning bills.
Two-stage or variable-speed furnaces or air conditioners are especially recommended (they are designed to maximize energy savings), and you should look for air conditioners with SEER ratings of higher than 13 and furnaces with AFUE ratings of 92 percent or greater.
- Improved heating and cooling performance
HVAC systems in Colorado and Wyoming are stressed by a significant workload, and after 10 or more years of operation they will start to function at a lower level of efficiency, that is inevitable and unavoidable. You may not notice the decline in performance, since the change happens gradually, but you can be sure it is there.
After upgrading your HVAC equipment, you’ll almost certainly notice an uptick in performance, which will translate to more consistently comfortable temperatures.
- Fewer repairs and service calls
As HVAC systems age, they will inevitably need more—and costlier—repairs.
Ever-increasing repair bills are not a form of preventive medicine that will extend your heating and air conditioning equipment’s lifespan indefinitely, but a sign of impending breakdown, and the sooner you upgrade the sooner you’ll begin enjoying all the financial benefits an upgrade entails.
- Increased home comfort
Your heating and cooling equipment have one primary purpose—to keep you comfortable all summer and all winter long, regardless of how extreme the conditions are outside.
Older HVAC systems that are slowly grinding to a halt will have a difficult time keeping up when temperatures reach their zenith in summer and nadir in winter, but if you invest in modern HVAC equipment those troubles will vanish. New furnaces and air conditioners will adjust their performance to meet seasonal conditions, and you won’t have to worry about them being overwhelmed by the challenge.
- Worry-free days and nights
In the back of your mind, you’ve known for a while that the end is near for your current HVAC system. But thinking about the expense of purchasing a new system has kept you sweating it out, hoping against hope that your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump will somehow beat the odds and hold out for a couple of more years.
Once you take the plunge, however, you’ll soon realize that upgrading your HVAC system was one of the smartest things you ever did. With financing available you should be able to handle the upfront costs, and with all the money you’ll be saving on energy and repair costs you’ll soon realize you made a tremendous investment.
Is it Time to Upgrade? Here’s How to Know
The two best indicators that an HVAC system needs an upgrade are age and rising costs. If your equipment is 10 years old or older it is living on borrowed time, and it is likely outdated in any case. If you’ve noticed rising repair and energy costs it means your current HVAC system is no longer delivering reliable or cost-effective performance, and if you continue to patch it up you’ll basically be throwing good money after bad.